Paddle boarding still developing its own water safety rules

The growth of paddle-boarding has water safety advocates advising people to make sure they know how to stay safe.
Storey poses with mandatory stand up paddle boarding safety gear: a lifejacket and board leash. (Madeline Kotzer/CBC News)

The growth of stand up paddle boarding has water safety advocates advising people to make sure they know how to stay safe.

Marcus Storey is familiar with the boom in the sport. His Saskatoon shop sells and rents boards.

"The real heat hits and then you'll start to see the long weekends come through and that's when we'll rent out of boards, we have 20 some boards, and they'll be all gone for a long weekend," Storey told CBC News.

Storey encourages people to take lessons, but notes many do not, in the mistaken belief that it is an easy sport. The reality is, it can be very dangerous.

Karen Letourneau is keen to take up the sport and is taking instructions.

"I was actually concerned," she explained to CBC News. "I don't know. Do you do it with a lifejacket? Do you not? I have seen people without. So that kind of concerned me."

Stand up paddle board enthusiasts say the sport is evolving and safety regulations, for now, are the same as those for canoers and kayakers.

The following gear is required:

  • Life jacket.
  • Whistle.
  • Leash.
  • Throw bag.

According to experts in water rescues, most of the time when people get into trouble on the river, its because they did not take precautions.

"The elements change," Storey noted, which can quickly turn into a tricky situation for a paddle boarder. "Wind is a big one when you're on a paddle board. Whereas, if you take the time to learn the techniques before you're in that situation, you're so much safer."

Saskatoon's river will be monitored by patrols of water safety crews and police later in June. They say they'll be looking for open alcohol in boats and reminding everyone on the water, including stand up paddle boarders, that if you're out on the river you need appropriate safety equipment.

With files from CBC's Madeline Kotzer


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