Can a person be too heavy to paddle board? The short answer is no. The key for any paddle boarder is to get a board that can support the rider’s weight.
While its true that a person could submerge a paddle board if he is too heavy for the board’s design, that doesn’t mean that the rider is too heavy to paddle board. All it means is that he is too heavy for that paddle board. In other words, the paddle board he submerged simply didn’t have the volume to hold his size.
PADDLE BOARD VOLUME
To many people, stand up paddle boards look like overgrown surfboards. They have similar shapes, are watersports equipment, and both types of boards can be used for surfing. The biggest difference between paddle boards and surf boards is their size. Surfboards can be smaller than 6 feet in length, but most paddle boards are at least 10.5 feet long, and can be as long 16 feet.
Paddle boards are much larger than surf boards, which means they have greater volume or displacement. That’s why, people can stand on a SUP that isn’t moving, which is impossible to do on a surf board. A surfboard simply doesn’t have volume to support a rider’s full weight when it’s not moving.
WHAT IS VOLUME?
A stand up paddle board’s volume is measured in Liters and it signifies how much water is displaced by the board when it enters the water.
Paddle board manufacturers create boards of different volumes to enable a better match between rider weight and the board’s function. A perfect example of this is the Wappa Classic and Nova. Both boards have similar All-Around shapes, and are designed to do the same things. The biggest difference between them is their size. The Nova is 10 inches longer and has 25 more liters in volume (190L Classic, 215L Nova). This means, that a heavier person can ride the Nova and experience the same ride as a lighter person on the Classic.
THE PURPOSE OF VOLUME
A paddle board’s volume is determined by the size of the board. Generally, the longer and wider the board, the greater the volume.
Volume brings two things to a paddle board. Stability, and how much weight it can support before submerging. The greater the volume, the more stable the board and the greater the rider weight that can be supported.
However, as rider weight increases, a boards stability may decrease if the rider is close to the board’s maximum rider weight.
SIGNS THAT YOU’RE TOO HEAVY FOR THE SUP
If you’re reading this article, I am going to assume that you are a beginner to the sport and have limited experience on the board.
If you get on a board, and it’s extremely unstable for you, it might not be your balance, rather, the board is just too small for your experience level and weight. If lighter people can get on the board and find balance, but you can’t, then the board is volume than it should for someone your size. Ask about the volume of the board. If the volume is within 15 Liters of your weight, it will provide good beginner stability.
If you stand on the board, and it becomes submerged more than 50%, then the board is too small for a beginner.
A person can never be too heavy to paddle board. All heavier people need to do is find the proper size board. By determining the board’s volume and matching it to your weight and experience level, a great day on the water is guaranteed. Don’t be discouraged when you see slimmer people paddling. There are boards made for you too. Just get one the right size and have a great time!
“What size SUP do I need for my weight?” This is an excellent question that should be asked by every first time SUP shopper. An even better question would be “what size SUP do I need for my weight and experience level?”
A paddle board should never be sold based on a person’s height. Your height is irrelevant to paddle board performance. Your weight, experience level and paddling goals are what matters.
While paddle boards vary in shape, width, length and thickness, the most important measurement when purchasing your first SUP is volume. A paddle board’s volume which is measured in liters is the best variable in determining what size board is best for you. A board’s volume tells you how much water the board displaces when it’s placed in the water. The higher the volume, the more weight a board can handle before performance diminishes.
Below are some examples of different Wappa paddle boards, their volume, and maximum rider weight the boards can handle.
As a general rule, the larger a paddle board’s volume, the more stable it will be. The heavier the person, the greater a SUP’s volume has to be to maintain an equal level of stability.
A common mistake many first-time buyers make is purchasing a larger board than they need because they want something that’s very stable. While getting a larger board then you need will be very stable, you may quickly become frustrated with your new toy as you gain experience. After a few sessions, your balance will improve and by the end of your first summer paddling, you will feel very comfortable on your board
However, as you gain experience, the big, stable SUP you initially loved may start feeling like an aircraft carrier as you paddle longer distances, or try to take some waves.
The key to selecting the right SUP is getting one with the proper volume to give you the stability that is needed at the beginning without it being too big that your skills advance past it in a few months. A good measuring stick for a first-time buyer is to compare your weight to the board’s volume. If you weigh 25 lbs. less than the boards volume, you will not be getting a board that is too big for you. In fact, you will be pretty much in its sweet spot.
If your weight is close to the volume of the board, it will be nice and stable. If your weight is over the volume of the board, but below the maximum weight, it will still be a great board for the long term, but it will be a little less stable for you as a beginner.
As the above chart illustrates, longer SUPs have more volume and can carry more weight. That doesn’t mean that if you’re 250 lbs. you should be getting a Wappa Scout just because you “fit it”. That board is big and long because it’s deigned to easily cut through water. It’s also 2”- 4” narrower than the other Wappa boards. When shopping, you will need to pay attention to the board’s function as well.
As you shop for paddle boards, don’t use your height as a measuring stick. Instead, use your weight. Select a SUP that will put you in the “body weight/board volume” sweet spot. Once you do that, you’ll be on the right track to selecting the properly sized paddle board.
The Wappa Blog
Written by Wappa's founder Layne Pennell, the blog's aim is to educate and share his love of stand up paddle boarding with anyone interested in SUP.
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