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Surfers and Reasons for Paddleboard Rider Hate

When you are on the beach, chances are you will see a variety of people with boats, boards, floaties and other things in the water. The most common ones are surfing boards, and SUPs, or stand-up paddleboards. Despite this, these two users don’t get along very well. So, one might wonder, why do surfers hate SUP? What are the reasons behind their clashes?

Surfers are usually surfing in the deep ocean zones, where the waves are strong. They have only a limited amount of time to maneuver their boards and change their paths when the waves crash. SUP users are not supposed to be this far into the ocean. Yet they still do sometimes and become an obstacle to the joy of surfers.

There are also other factors that surfers complain about, and all of them are logical enough for them to have a problem with SUPs in the ocean. You can learn more about them by reading the rest of the article. In addition, you would get a better understanding of the difference between the two activities as well. 

Surfing vs. Paddle Boarding: A Comparison

Surfing and paddle boarding are fundamentally different because they differ in their modes of operation. Surfing is more dangerous because it’s done in high waves. These boards are small in size (7-9 feet), so they can easily glide in sync with the direction of the waves. Paddle boarding is much tamer and is sort of a beginner friendly no-thrill water sport. 

To put it simply, a surfboard is designed to ride strong waves and requires greater mobility. This sport is not designed for beginners, especially those new to the ocean. During a surfing session, the body must be balanced in a few seconds, so there is no opportunity to pause. As a result, surfing can be quite dangerous. To master the sport, one needs an open area in the water.

In contrast, SUPs are suitable for both beginners and professionals. In comparison to surfboards, these are significantly larger (10-14 feet). Additionally, the boards come with paddles, which allow the users to control their speeds. Therefore, they do not have to rely on the weight of their bodies to enjoy this activity. SUPs also require small waves to maintain their stability.

Many people wonder, does SUP help surfing? The answer is- no. The paddle boards are designed in a way where they can only be controlled with paddles. And when the waves are high and strong, sometimes the paddles can cause more problems than help. These tend to break frequently since they are mostly plastic. Riding in this condition can pose a danger to the rider.

Why Do Surfers Hate SUPs?

In the surfing community, it is a very common feeling that they rule the ocean. Their bodies are pumped with excitement after spending hours playing in the water and riding the dangerous waves. They cherish this feeling. So, let’s check out why they don’t like SUP riders in the ocean area and whether they are justified in doing so.

  • SUPs Pose a Danger to Surfers

It was mentioned earlier that surfers are limited in their ability to change their direction while in the waves, and balance their bodies with it. In those few moments, if there is a SUP user in front of them, it can cause terrible accidents. SUPs are slower than surfing boards and that’s why they can’t move right away when they see someone coming right at them.

There are numerous cases where a surfer has faced head injuries because they wanted to change direction too quickly. In addition to the added weight of the water, the SUP can also be very heavy when dropped on someone. The US Coast Guard has now classified SUPs as vessels since they are so large and heavy, and can be hazardous to surfers. (1)

  • Paddle Boarders are Inconsiderate of Waves

You can use paddleboards to lose weight, practice yoga, go on adventures, you name it! However, it’s not wise to take these big boards into the ocean during a heavy tide. Additionally, you should not go too far with these, because the farther you go, the bigger the waves will be. Your board’s nose and fins can be damaged, and it will become difficult to get back.

A lot of surfers have complained about how this interferes with their surfing. As the paddle boarders sometimes don’t acknowledge the wave, they get into trouble. When someone is in the ocean, they must maintain some rules and regulations. Also, they must have a sixth sense that can predict the ocean’s next mood. Therefore, some surfers consider SUP users ignorant.

  • Ocean Is Filled with SUPs

Beginner paddle boarding lessons should be in lakes or rivers where the water is flat. The ocean can be unpredictable at times, so it’s not a safe place for people to practice. Even so, people often go to the beach and take lessons there. And surfers find it problematic.

With each passing day, SUPs become more and more popular. As a result, these boards now heavily occupy popular surfing spots. Therefore, surfers have to surf elsewhere because they don’t have enough space for it.

  • Paddle Boarding Is Not a Sport

There is a general opinion among surfers that paddle boarding doesn’t qualify as a sport like surfing. They think it’s not fair to call something that requires a paddle ‘surfing’ or ‘boarding’. Surfers disapprove of it because they consider it cheating.

SUP users, however, have a completely different perspective. They believe paddle boarding needs more skills than surfing, and hence they are way superior to surfers. Many point out that surfers simply stand on their boards, whereas paddle boarders have to use the paddle simultaneously. So, their activity requires more proficiency and skills.

  • Lack Of Surf Ethics

Surfers believe in an unwritten rule, which is: be respectful towards others and don’t steal the wave swells. There have been comments about paddleboarders not understanding these topics and attempting to steal waves. The result is that a lot of crashes and accidents happen every day.

This is why surfers think SUP users lack surfing etiquette. They are said to be more self-centered in their actions, and they need to be more responsible for that.

Etiquettes SUP User Should Follow

Whether you are new to this area or not, when you are in the ocean you have to follow some rules. This is to make sure your presence is as least of a nuisance it can possibly be on your time at the beach. Here are some tips on good beech etiquettes for paddle boarders:

  • SUP boards are huge, so it’s better if you don’t leave them around in random places. Pick a specific spot, where people don’t go as much and keep your paddle board there. It will create more space for surfers to enjoy surfing.
  • You should respect the line-up. Just because your board is bigger than surfboards, you get to catch the waves earlier. You should not practice this, however. Share the waves with fellow surfers, and let them enjoy their time too.
  • No matter how much fun you are having in the water, safety comes first! Hence be aware of your surroundings. It is possible for your board to seriously injure someone. Therefore, keep a close eye on that when you’re riding the waves.


All of the things considered, surfers do have some complaints about SUP users, which are logical enough for them to dislike paddle boarders. However, they’re not disliked by every surfer. Some surfers do blow this issue out of proportion. But, in general, a little more cautiousness from the sides of paddle boarders should put this issue to an end.

I hope this article was able to help you understand why do surfers hate SUP? Thank you for reading and stay blessed.

If you are just starting to look into paddleboarding we have a wide selection of guides to help assist you in finding the best option to suit your needs, check them out here!