How to Get Your Sup Board into the Water

How to Launch Your SUP

Beginners sometimes struggle with launching their sups for the first few times.  Here are some general tips and tricks for getting into the water smoothly for the first few times!

From a Calm Beach or Lake Shore

These tips are appropriate for learning how to launch your sup in lakes, calm rivers and calm bays where wave action is very minimal.

Getting to the water:

  • Carry your board to the launch site using its handle or, if you have a friend, carry it together with one person at the nose and the other at the fin.  Do not carry the board by the fin – you could damage the fin box (the slot where the fin is attached to the board) or the fin itself.
  • Stay upwind of the board as you walk to the water.  That way the board will not push into you, making it difficult to walk and control the board.
  • If it is really windy, point the nose of the board down.
How to Launch Your SUP
Set the board down fins up!
  • If you need to set the board down, try to do so on a soft area like grass or sand. Set it down deck side down, with the bottom and fins pointing up.   This protects the fins and – in the case of fiberglass/carbon boards – the bottom of the board from dings.
  • Attach your leash to the board and insert your fin(s) if necessary. If you fin(s) are already attached, make sure the screws are solid and tight.
  • Carry your board to the water with the attached leash around you wrist or in your hand that is also holding the board handle.  Do this so you do not drag the leash on the ground.  Letting your leash drag is both a trip hazard and a way to prematurely damage your leash.

Once  You’re In the water:

  • Carry your board into the water until you are at least knee deep. Then set it down.  That ensures you are in deep enough water for the fin to clear the bottom, especially once you get on the board.
  • Turn you board PARALLEL to the shoreline. This also ensures that the fin is clear of the bottom.


Never put yourself between the board and the water!
  • Be sure you are standing on the OUTSIDE of the board.  In other words, do not put your body between the board and the shoreline.  Should a gust of wind or boat wake come up, this ensures the board will not get pushed into you, making it hard to mount and possibly knocking you down.  Also, this is good practice should you ever take your board to the ocean where there are waves.  Read more about ocean paddling here.
  • Place your paddle across your board perpendicularly to help you stabilize the board.
  • Once your board is in knee deep water, turned parallel to the shore and you are standing on the outside side of it, then attach your leash, secure your water bottles, etc.
  • Mount the board and paddle out!

From A Dock

Docks can be a little tricky. Follow the same suggestions for carrying your board to the water as outlined above. You don’t want to end up the in the water between your board and the dock – that can be dangerous.

Once you are on the dock:

  • Make sure there is plenty of room for both you, your gear and others who might be using the dock.
  • Be on the lookout for fish hooks, fishing line, bait that’s been left behind, especially if you are barefoot.
  • Be aware of the large metal cleats bolted on to docks for tying up boats.  If you aren’t careful, you could damage your board or get injured if you hit one of these.
  • Place your paddle near by so you can reach it easily.
  • Carefully lower your board into the water – nose first.  Hang on to the leash to maintain control of the board as you are putting it in the water.
  • Turn your board so the board is parallel to the dock and the nose is facing away from shore. You can use your feet or your paddle to help do this.
  • Once it’s in the water, sit down on the dock and keep the board in place with your feet.
  • Attach your leash to your leg.
  • Gently lower yourself onto your board, using the edge of the dock to brace yourself, coming to your knees.
  • Do your best not to push away from the dock with your hands. Just use the dock to help steady you.  Death grips not necessary!
  • Do not straddle the board so that one of your legs is between the board and the dock. Stay on your knees until you are safely away from the dock and are ready to stand up.
  • Before you paddle out, be mindful of fishing lines, boat ramp traffic and others who might be using the dock or launching from it.
  • With practice, you will eventually be able to launch from a dock from a standing position. To do that, sit on the edge of the dock. Place your feet on the board, wide apart and in an offset stance.  Scoot yourself off the dock and into a standing position very gently and without pushing off too much from the dock.Get your paddle into the water asap – but not between your board and the dock.

Tips for getting out of the water

  • If it’s a crowded launch area, get to your knees as you come in – for safety.
Always look for submerged hazards that could damage you or your board!
  • Do not jump off the board into the water unless you are sure the water is at least waist deep.  Jumping off the board in shallow water is an easy way to break or twist an ankle.
  • Look for rocks or other debris – both submerged and on the shore – that could damage your board.
  • Stradling the board and scooting to the tail or back of the board (called Rodeo, Cowboy or Cowgirl position) is a great way to land in rough conditions or waves.  The legs act like brakes and moving to the back of the board lifts more of the board out of the water.  That slows its forward motion down and makes it less susceptible to waves.
  • When you take the leash off, remember not to drag it behind you.