Stay sharp with our commonly used paddleboard terms. Next time you’re on the water or heading to the shop, you’ll have some key verbiage to bring along.
Here are some key terms to keep you knowledgeable about paddleboard terminology:
2 or 3 piece paddle
This refers to a paddle that can be broken down into 2 or 3 pieces for convenient travel. Sometimes referred to as a 2 piece paddle when the adjustable handle/shaft extension stays within the main shaft, but technically a 3 piece paddle.
This is a paddle which can be adjusted in length. Usually includes a range of 5″ to 16″ adjustability to match different paddler heights, thicker or thinner boards, different conditions or different paddling styles. Read more on how to correctly fit or measure a stand up paddle for you.
This is the flat part on the end of the paddle that goes in the water and provides the forward motion.
The edge of the paddle’s blade.
A bag for your board. Could be a wheeled bag, backpack, board sock, zippered bag etc.
The underside of the stand up paddle board.
Elastic cord used to tie down equipment on the SUP deck. Attached to tie down points or d-rings.
How much float a board has. See volume.
A small net attached to tie downs or d-rings on the board’s deck where you can stow things in or under. Such as a water bottle, life jacket, etc.
The velcro straps or belt of a leash used to attach it to your body. It may attach around your ankle or calf.
A D shaped metal or plastic ring used to attach your leash or for tie down bungees or cargo nets.
The topside of your paddle board.
The soft, usually EVA deck grip on the topside of your board. The area where you stand on the board.
Paddling with the wind at your back. Usually along the coastline with a different pick up point.
When something is hanging in the water, it creates drag which slows you down. A leash, your legs, etc.
These are the fine threads inside an inflatable stand up paddle board which keep the top and bottom layers connected. Comes in various lengths for different benefits These different lengths give the board its thickness Usually 4″ to 6″. Also comes in different density. Plays a big part in the stiffness or rigidity of an inflatable paddle board.
A water proof bag used to carry valuables or equipment. Floats and stays water tight and easy to lash down onto eh board’s deck.
This is the foam deck grip where you stand. Comes in various textures, thicknesses and of course colors.
Fiberglass (or fibreglass) is a type of fiber reinforced plastic where the reinforcement fiber is specifically glass fiber. The glass fiber may be randomly arranged, flattened into a sheet, or woven into a fabric. Fiberglass is a strong lightweight material. Although it is not as strong and stiff as composites based on carbon fiber, it is less brittle, and its raw materials are much cheaper.
The fin is located under the tail of the board. The fin provides grip and tracking while paddling and riding the board.
The slot(s) where a fin is attached. Various styles of fin box are available but the most popular is called a US style box.
When using removable fins, especially a US box style fin, the fin slots in and screws down into a small square plate or tab. This allows you to move the fin forward or backward to adjust performance.
This is a paddle with a fixed length. Usually the lightest configuration of a paddle but cannot be adjust for length to suit paddlers or conditions.
This is the term used to describe the wobble or shake of the paddle as you pull it during the power phase of the stroke. A paddle that flutters will move from side to side uncontrollably as you pull it through the water. This can be very tiring and stressing to muscles.
Inside hard boards, foam is used because of it’s lightness and easy to shape characterisitics.
Something you use to measure your inflatable SUPs internal pressure while inflating.
The t-grip or handle is where you place your top hand on the paddle. It is also how you carry the board. Some boards also have tail or rail handles to aid the paddler in certain conditions, e.g. rough water, racing.
A tether between you and your board. Should always be used. There are various styles of leash to match personal taste and conditions.
Where your leash connects to your hard board SUP.
The overall length of the board from nose to tail, or paddle from end of paddle blade to handle.
A streamlined paddle shaft length adjustment system available on many paddles.
A life jacket keeps you afloat in times of stress or separation from your equipment. Be sure to observe your local laws and requirements.
The front of you board, usually pointy, but not always.
Nose runner fin
A long but very shallow fin on the underside of the nose of some inflatable stand up paddle boards to aid tracking.
Plastic, usually relates to the blade on various paddles. Light, strong and usually the cheapest option for a paddle blade.
Also known as deck pad. That area where you stand on and ride the board. Usually a EVA foam of varying thickness for purpose and comfort.
The piece of equipment you use to create forward motion while standing on your board!
A type of surfboard with one end rounded and the other tapered to a point, used chiefly in surfing and often in lifesaving. Also used in other tropical countries as a form of transportation from island to island.
Featured on many adjustable paddles as the method to fix the length of the shaft. A clamp usually allows infinite adjustment between the paddle’s length range, while the pin system lines up with holes in the adjustable shaft and locks into place. Other names/systems: Quik Clamp, Quik Clip.
Personal Flotation Device, see life jacket.
When you get up to speed and your board skims over the water rather than pushing through it.
The piece of equipment you use to inflate your inflatable paddle board.
A pin system similar to the pins above but spring loaded and used where the lower (blade) and middle shafts join.
Usually refers to the fin configuration on the tail of your SUP. 4 fins, 2 on each side, one in front of the other but staggered.
The edges of your board that run nose to tail on each side. The rail shape or profile plays a large part in the board’s stability and on water performance.
The amount of curve in the underside of the board from nose to tail. If you lay the board flat on the ground, rocker can be seen as how much the nose and tail lift on the ground. Rocker controls part of how the board performs on flat water, rough water and in waves.
Red Paddle Co’s patented rail stiffening system. Uses fiberglass battens inserted in the board’s rails to increase stiffness. It does this by spreading the weight of the paddler over a larger area.
The paddle shaft connects the paddle to the handle.
Common on many SUPs. A single fin at the tail of the board.
Another name used for the top or bottom layers of an inflatable SUP. Terminology that has carried over from kayaking and rafting.
Commonly used acronym for stand-up paddle, board.
How wobbly or steady your board is in the water conditions.
Stroke – reach, catch, power, release, recovery
Your paddle stroke used to propel the board forward. Broken down into various phases: Reach – reaching forward before placing your paddle in the water. The Catch is when you place the paddle in the water. The Power is the ‘pulling’ part of the stroke. The release is taking the paddle out of the water and the recovery phase is bringing the paddle forward again for another reach.
The back of your board. Your fins are on the tail of the board and where your leash usually connects.
A long but very shallow fin on the underside of the tail of some inflatable stand up paddle boards to aid tracking. Acts like a regular fin but does not get in the way, requires no maintenance and is very durable.
The width of the board at a certain distance from the tail. Common practice for tail width measurements is 12″ from the tail. Usually used in surf style boards and measurements.
The thickness of your SUP board. Varies greatly in the shape of a hard board but a little more consistent in inflatable paddle boards – usually between 4″ and 6″. Thickness on hard boards helps to control volume (float) and the shape of the rails. On inflatables it plays a part in the board’s stiffness. Usually the thicker, the stiffer, but there is always compromise for performance characteristics and usability.
A 3 fin layout. Common on regular surfboards. Features a center fin and two side fins near to the rails and forward a little towards the nose.
Tie down point
A place where you can attach gear to your board. See D-ring.
How straight your board goes when you paddle. Longer and narrower touring or racing boards/hulls will go straighter for longer before you need to switch sides paddling. Flatter shaped boards/hull designs and shorter surf or river style boards will tend to zig zag more easily. Tracking is also adjusted by number, placement and size of fin(s).
Also known as a 3-piece paddle. A paddle which breaks down or comes apart into 2 or 3 pieces or parts. Usually helps when travelling and usually fit in your inflatable SUP board bag.
A two fin setup carried over from surfing. Not often seen on a SUP. Fins are side by side under the tail of the board.
The point where you connect your pump to inflate your inflatable paddle board. Usually a Halkey-Roberts style valve with a twist in nozzle and cap and an internal seal controlled by the valve head or pin.
The cap you screw into your valve to protect it from dust, dirt and water. Does not actually seal the board’s pressure in but covers the internal seal and valve head/pin from damage, dust and dirt, etc.
This spring loaded head/pin controls the internal valve seal, the seal that holds the board’s pressure. It sits in 2 positions activated by turning and pushing. In the head/pin out position, the seal is closed but allows inflation. In the head/pin down position, the seal is open and is used to deflate/store board. See more here.
The amount of water the board would displace if totally submerged. Commonly matched to board thickness in basic shapes. This measurement is a good indication of the boards load carrying capacity. On hard boards, volume can be spread in certain areas to aid performance, whereas inflatables usually have the same thickness throughout.
The width noted in board measurements is measured at the widest point of the board. Usually a wider board will provide greater stability but it also depends on how much of the board carries that width. Narrower boards will be less stable but faster for racing designs and more responsive for surf designs. It’s about finding a balance for the ride and chosen paddling/board style.
An app used to track and report the current wind speeds in surrounding areas or the specified area that you select. The app takes readings from nearby weather beacons. Very useful for kiteboarders and watersports enthusiasts alike, to be able to predict wind and avoid potentially harmful wind gusts.
A stand up paddle board which includes a mast track or mast base screw attachment point. Opens up your SUP to attaching a sail and windsurfing when eh wind picks up. Giving your SUP board a dual use.
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