Planning a road trip to a SUP race

Updated June 29, 2016

If you are hopping in your cars and heading for the nearest SUP event, here are a few things to remember:

The first step: Cover the basics

  • Register for the event
  • Make a reservation at the event hotel or one close by
  • Make sure your car is serviced, check tire pressure
  • Let someone know where you’re going at home, and that you’re on your way to someone at the event

Make a plan for the road

  1. Plan your stops
  2. Research places to eat (Otherwise, you are choosing from fast food almost foods)
  3. Bring hydration in a cooler. I bring water and coconut water. I’m not going to overdo it, but to stay hydrated, starting a few days out is important.
  4. Get an audiobook, playlist or podcasts (I love the Ted Talks and am listening to a few books on Audible). It’ll make the ride faster.

Scheduled Maintenance:

Use this opportunity to do a quick gear check. Things wear out.

  • Replace your leash string
  • Replace your fin screw
  • Replace your pfd CO2 cartridge. If you need it and have to pull that string, you’ll be really bummed when it doesn’t open.
  • Check the seals on any dry cases, dry bags, phone cases
  • Replace batteries on any safety devices such as lights or marine/gps radios
  • Update any software on your Garmin, Speed Coach, Velocitek, phone (you don’t want to be at the start and have an update prompt)

Packing List:

  • pfd
  • appropriate leash (depending on conditions/setting)
  • whistle
  • board
  • paddle
  • straps
  • fin
  • fin screw
  • leash string
  • hydration/nutrition: I’m using OX Endurance and Carbo Pro, with a GU or two in case of emergencies. We love Scratch labs, here’s an article on it
  • Camelback/Water bottles we like CamelBak Molokai
  • Bottle cage
  • camera
  • charger for your phone
  • gps/speed coach and charger (charged fully and turned off before you leave)
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Glide
  • Hydration pack
  • Race nutrition
  • Board shorts
  • Hat
  • Tuxedo

Find out the schedule of events and event location:

  • When and where is the racers meeting?
  • Are there requirements that you hadn’t planned for? Like pfds for prone paddleboards or leashes in surf races.
  • What time is the start?
  • Where do you park?
  • Where can you store your board? How to keep your boards from being stolen post

To have with you on race morning

  • Board
  • Paddle
  • pfd
  • leash
  • whistle
  • Race bib and 4 safety pins
  • Hat
  • Hydration, with ice
  • Bottle cage for prone
  • Head rest for prone
  • Water Bottles, filled with mixes
  • Any nutrition such as gels (make sure you take the empties with you when you get out of the water)

Home Depot BucketTo have in your car:

  • Duct Tape
  • Screwdrivers (flat and phillips)
  • Extra straps
  • Extra safety pins
  • Sharpie
  • Rack pads
  • Extra fin
  • Extra paddle
  • Extra pfd
  • Extra fin screw
  • Extra leash string
  • Extra whistle
  • Bucket for your wet gear

Before the start

  • Eat at least 1.5 hours before
  • Drink something 30 minutes out
  • Wear sunscreen
  • Check to see that your water hoses and bites work so you’re not 20 minutes into the race and can’t get a drink
  • Check your fin to make sure it’s secure
  • Paddle for a 5-10 minutes to get used to it, to get your water legs moving. If it’s a new board to you, spend even more time. If it’s a water start, practice your water start.
  • Attend the racers meeting and PAY ATTENTION
  • Go over the course map
  • Pre-visualize yourself paddling the course
  • Find the start and get your spot if it’s a beach start
  • If it’s a water start, get out there early, get your spot, sit down prepare mentally


  • Put lotion on your knees, sunblock on deck pads is the worst
  • Forget to wash your hands after applying lotion, sunblock on paddles is almost as bad

After you finish the race

  • Open you vent plug if you have a manual vent
  • Make sure the board is turned over so the deck pad is not in the direct sun
  • Hydrate, eat
  • Even a board in a board bag can be damaged by heat. Keep it in the shade. Park in the shade. Opening a small gap in the zipper, and not facing forward on your rack will help vent a board bag. 99 times out of a 100 they are fine, but that 1 time is tough.

Random Extra Tips:

  • Add a whistle to your PFD. Just stick it in there. It’s a requirement that we don’t hear much about.
  • Join AAA, you get hotel discounts and they will tow you for 100 miles for free. They rock. Essential for those who take car trips
  • Hotels have the cleanest bathrooms, don’t bother with fast food places
  • If you have to pull over on highways, get off on an exit ramp to do it (if you can). If not, pull over as far as safely possible. Texters drift.
  • Don’t speed through work zones.
  • Stay out of the fast lane unless you are passing.
  • Get out of the slow lane—move over—if there is a police car or emergency vehicle on the shoulder
  • Stay away from trucks, they throw a ton of wind around and can blow an insecure board off a roof
  • Check your straps every time you stop for gas and in the morning if you’ve left them overnight.
  • If it’s raining, tighten your straps, they can stretch.
  • If it’s raining, do not put the board bag with the zipper side on top, it can fill with water
  • Make sure the opening to the bag is in the back of the car so it doesn’t open in the wind
  • Make sure the board in the bag is as far forward in the bag to the end that’s facing the front of the car

What did we miss?

We’re sure there’s something because we forget things almost every time we travel. Comment and we’ll add them.