Stand Up Paddleboard Racing 101


Stand Up Paddleboard Racing 101 by Michelle Currier


The official start of summer is a couple of days away which means we move into the height of the Stand Up Paddle Race season. If you have been on the fence about racing or are not sure if you have the right equipment, then this blog will provide some helpful information for you.

I entered into the Stand Up Paddle world on my own without any formal lessons or an understanding about the racing world of Stand Up Paddling. I am here to provide that guidance and hope to answer any questions.

Equipment is always important and can be overwhelming to pick from when you first start out. I would suggest to work with a Stand Up Paddle/Surf shop to demo boards or look for demo board events that they may offer. Be sure to try as many boards as you can and during different kinds of conditions. You need to make sure that you are comfortable on the board in all conditions before you make the investment. Once you have found the right board, next comes the training.

Training for a Stand Up Paddleboard race includes water and land training. The best way to start is by putting together a calendar to outline your training schedule. Below is an example of a week of training:

MONDAY    3-4 mile paddle

TUESDAY    30 min. Yoga Stretch
Strength & Conditioning

WEDNESDAY   CrossFit/Gym Workout
1-2 mile run

THURSDAY    5-6 mile paddle
Strength & Conditioning

FRIDAY   CrossFit/Gym Workout
3-4 mile paddle

SATURDAY   30 min. Yoga Stretch
10 mile paddle

SUNDAY   Rest Day (Use this day to stretch)

The schedule above can be adjusted to accommodate your goal for racing depending on the races that you plan on registering for. The key is to make sure to include cardio, strength & conditioning and yoga in your training. The cardio is important to help with the endurance on the water and the strength & conditioning will help with your power. Having the combination of endurance and strength will make you a strong paddler.

Nutrition is another key ingredient to your training regime. Remove the soda from your diet and replace it with water (I know, boring) but adding lemon or limes to the water will make it more enjoyable. Also drinking plenty of water each day will help with keeping hydrated during training. Your diet should include protein, healthy fats, healthy carbs, vegetables and fruits. It should not include sugars, processed foods, unhealthy fats or carbs. There are plenty of apps for our phones, iPads, etc. that you can choose from to that will help you track how many calories you should be eating based on your daily activity and some will also help with creating your food shopping lists. Always make sure to consult with a doctor before starting any type of diet.

As you get closer to your race, your water intake should increase. Coconut water is a great alternative to help with hydration. The night before the race, organize the gear you’ll need such as your leash, pdf, whistle, and hydration pack. Be sure to eat a filling, healthy, meal the night before, go to bed early and be ready to get up early as most races start will start first thing in the morning. Race events typically have early registration times followed by racers safety meetings. Once the meetings and course reviews are complete, the races start. You will often see separate start times for Elite, Recreational and Open race classes. You may want to arrive to the event early to allow you plenty of time to get your gear ready, warm up and check out the course ahead of time without being rushed.

Race day has arrived……. what is that feeling? Nerves will start to kick in right before the race, it’s natural…. relax, breath and simply treat the race as another training day. Get on that starting line knowing you have done everything you could to prepare for this race and now is the time for you show it. Your adrenaline will kick in as the race starts. Be sure to control your breathing and keep assuring yourself that you can do this. Once you cross that finish line either it being first, middle of the pack or in last place, the feeling you’ll get of achieving a finish in a Stand Up Paddleboard race will be awesome. It is one of the most amazing accomplishments and the support you will receive from the SUP community is one like no other. You will learn quickly that once you finish your first race you’ll quickly become a part of the SUP family, a family that will see you through it, support you and help you whenever you need.

After your first race, you will catch the bug to do more and you will want to find more races. Check out or your local surf shop for racing events in your area. You can also learn about a lot of other racers in your area while participating in other races and will quickly discover we travel from race to races in a little tribe.

I would love to hear about your training progress and racing experiences as well as answer any questions you may have. Email me at I look forward to hearing from you soon, or better yet, seeing you at the next race!


If you want to learn how to stand up paddleboard please check out our classes HERE!