Florida Professional Paddlesports Association

SUP's are vessels

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Document Number: 398
Office of Public Affairs
U.S. Coast Guard
News Release Date: Oct. 24, 2008
Contact: Lt. j.g. Nadine Santiago
(202) 372-4644
Coast Guard Classifies Paddleboards As Vessels
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Coast Guard in a decisional memo dated Oct.3, classified paddleboards as vessels in accordance with Title 1 United States Code, Section 3.
This classification means that when used beyond the narrow limits of a swimming, surfing, or bathing area, no person may use a paddleboard unless in compliance with the Navigation Rules, and applicable carriage requirements for this type of vessel.
This may include a Coast Guard approved life jacket for each person on board, a sound producing device, visual distress signals, and proper navigation lights. A police-type whistle and a flashlight comply with these requirements.
The Coast Guard has also exempted the hull identification number requirement from the manufacturing standards.
"In order to address safety issues and concerns the U.S. Coast Guard has researched the criteria, and has determined that the device known as a paddleboard is a vessel under Title 1, United States Code, Section 3," said Jeffrey Hoedt, chief of the Boating Safety Division, Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety.
Director of the Oregon Marine Board, Paul Donheffner, reported that paddle boarding has been gaining popularity. Traditionally they were used to surf in the ocean, but are now being used not only in the ocean beyond surfing areas but also in lakes and rivers.
It is important to note that paddleboards in the surf-zone will not be affected by the decision and that the Coast Guard does not define the limits of surf zones.
The U. S. Coast Guard asks all boat owners and operators to help reduce fatalities, injuries, property damage, and associated healthcare costs related to recreational boating accidents by taking personal responsibility for their own safety and the safety of their passengers.
Essential steps include always wearing a life jacket; never boat under the influence; successfully complete a boating safety course; and get a vessel safety check annually from your local U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or United States Power Squadrons.
The U. S. Coast Guard reminds all boater's to "Boat Responsibly!" For more information on boating responsibly, go to: www.uscgboating.org.
Standup Paddle Tips
• Safety-First be honest with yourself about your swimming ability. Weak swimmers should wear a life jacket because you might fall in. Never leave your board, if you lose the paddle you can paddle it with your hands easier than swimming, also the wind can blow it away faster than you can swim. Stay attached to it with the ankle leash. Always paddle up-wind first, it is way more difficult than down wind. Do not get caught a long distance down wind, you may not make it back.
• Your paddle is your friend-keep it in the water as much as possible. You can push the blade forward or back to keep from falling, and even lean on it or pull up on it momentarily to keep from falling. Never let go of your paddle.
• Foot position-Stand in the middle of the board, too far forward will sink the nose, too far back will drag the tail and be slow. You generally want to retain the centered straight forward stance for long distance paddling on flat water because its more stable and gives you easier, even paddle transitions from side to side. But when the surface is choppy or you're in waves you'll want to adopt a more fore and aft stance with your dominant foot forward just as in normal surfing. Attach your safety leash to the rearward foot.
• Paddling-reach forward with your paddle and put the blade in almost vertically, close to the board. Stroke back, visualizing pulling the board forward in the water. Don't try to extend the stroke too far past your legs, that angles the blade too much and pulls the board edge downwards. Your blade is angled forwards for two reasons-to make the blade more stable in the water (as you'll see if you try to stroke with the blade backwards) and to improve the release of the blade as you pull it up. Stroking too far backwards defeats that smooth release.
• Happy feet-You need to learn that your feet are not bolted to the board. As your balance improves you can move around the board more. In flatwater you need to imitate this learning by forcing yourself to move your feet around. Shift from centered to fore and aft stance. Move your back foot more towards the tail then back centered again. In chop your learning will be automatic-when you master sideways chop you're bound to be moving about on the board.
• Turning and Spinning-Initially you'll be turning the board slowly by stroking away from the board, but this is the slow way around. Fine for flatwater, but too slow to surf. The faster way is to put weight on the back of the board and stroke with the paddle to pivot the board. Once you are in a fore and aft position you can start practicing this by just putting weight on your back leg. This works even better if you take a step backwards. You need to lean on the paddle a bit to optimize these moves. Once you can spin the board 360 you're ready to surf.
These tips written by Pono Bill and edited by Randall Barna


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