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Are you ready?

Open Water SUP: Courses


Course Structure

One to one: £150 // Two to one: £200

This is a 3 hour lesson with all kit provided. The time is divided between roughly 1 hour theory and 2 hours practical. 

Example Conditions: Open Water skills sea-chop up to 10 cm, non-breaking swell up to 0.5 m. 

High Wind skills - wind up to 15 knots, flat water enclosed environment (not affected by chop or swell) with shallow sloping sides. 

Tide Paddling skills - tide up to 2 knots (flooding tide up to slack water only) 
Equipment: 11'0, 12'6 or 14'0 hard construction touring boards, carbon paddles, rough water buoyancy aids, throw lines, 5mm full wetsuits, suitable leashes, comms, first aid. 

Previous Experience: You will have been on one of our SUP tours or an equivalent intro lesson elsewhere.   

Technical Skills Covered: Upwind, cross wind, downwind paddling; tidal river crossing; back-eddy hopping; paddling with more: speed, power, precision, efficiency; rough water stability; self-rescue and rescuing others; towing and assisting others. 

Theory Skills Covered: Route planning; advanced weather forecasting and tide knowledge; reading sea charts; water reading; fear extinuishing; rough water equipment knowledge.


Divergent from the conventional SUP experience. Get your heart rate up, test your sinews and find out what you're made of. 

The two main differences between the Open Water SUP sessions at Surf Sanctuary and just about all other SUP experiences are: 
1. We used hard construction touring boards

2. You. Open Water SUP is not for 99% of people. 

1. Hard boards. Most people's experience of SUP is on an inflatable board; they're easier to store in apartments and transport in small cars and so now dominate the market. However in terms of performance, inflatable SUPs are inferior to hard SUPs in every way. They are slower, less stable, difficult to manage in surf and are more affected by wind. These factors don't matter too much when paddling on enclosed water, but they become limiting on open water. A couple of analogies would be surfing a foamie type board in barreling wavs, or doing a 100 mile road cycle on a fat-bike. Yes you can do it, but probably only once! For real progression and enjoyment, you need no-compromise equipment. 

Hard SUP boards have the efficiency, stability, chop-piercing and wind-cutting ability,  and planing glide required for real ocean padling. They go further and faster with less energy, and permit your body to respond by growing stronger instead of developing an injury. They behave predictably in chop and swell rather than bucking you off and open up otherwise inaccessible areas of water. Hard boards are both more pleasant and more interesting to paddle. 

At Surf Sanctuary we have a fleet of beautiful hard touring boards that continue to serve us on our ocean adventures from paddling to the Scilly Isles to hacking into a 30 knot headwind on the River Gannel; we will show you how to use them. 

2. You. You've probably heard someone tell you that they've 'done stand up paddling', suggesting there is nothing left to discover. In reality, they will have had a potter on an inflatable all-round SUP in enclosed water. This is like having one game of chess and saying that you've 'completed it mate'. In reality, you will not have even scratched the surface. 

Open water paddling is both a challenging and restorative physically and mentally. Learning to paddle on the right equipment in wind, chop, tides and swells will strengthen your body and mind in ways that will benefit you long after you have left the water. You will develop a sense of self-reliance and self-respect, and become the agent of your own safety and progression. You will become physically stronger, faster, smoother, more coordinated, and have more stamina. Your resting heart rate will decrease, your muscles will develop tone, your mobility will improve. Even at rest you will be just as nature designed our bodies to be: 'ready for anything'. 

There is no short cut to fulfilling your mental and physical potential, no amount of money can buy a drug or surgery to make it happen; your own obervations of people around you will confirm that. Real change requires directed effort and commitment, but from the first step it is an engaging process. If you firmly believe in 'one life, live it' then we encourage you to take up the paddle with purpose. 

At Surf Sanctuary we are believers in the power of SUP and self-medicate with this wonderful treatment liberally and often. The physically and mentally strengthening benefits are the foundation to all our ocean sports - surfing, foil, wind sports, freediving...

As we said earlier, Open Water SUP is not for 99% of people but if you're ready to leave 99% of people behind, let us know. 

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