Stand-up Paddleboarding Terms and Definitions

This is a list of common paddleboarding terms with definitions.

Paddleboarding Terms

Paddleboarding Terms

Blade: head / face of paddle where the load is present.
Bow / Flex: the upward angle of the nose created by a wood stringer. Also called the rocker. Where the gym equipment gets its name.
Bump: wave or wake that does not actually break.
Carbon fiber: graphite layered into fibers used instead of fiberglass and epoxy since it is much lighter and supposedly stronger. Used on boards, paddles and fins.
Displacement board: cuts through water like canoe rather than sitting on top like a planing design. Most 12.6′ and 14′ touring / race boards have displacement designs. There are also hulls on these boards similar to canoes which usually measure at least 5 inches deep (thick). The hull is also called the rail.
Dolphin fin: 99% of S.U.P. fins modeled after surfboard fins. Great for tracking straight and for blades with larger surface area. Creates a lot of drag, however, and best for beginners or surfing. The larger the fin the more drag is created.
Downwind board: Designed for bumps. Has a thicker, more voluminous rail outline or full up towards the nose of the board and taper down towards the tail. This gives the board more volume up front, which helps keep the nose from diving under the water when traveling down the face of a swell. The easiest way to tell if a board is a downwind board is whether the nose is significantly thicker than the tail. Pro Surfer Jason Polakow designed the first downwind board, which is still the most popular today for JP Australia.
E.P.S.: expanded polystyrene – the inside of every paddleboard. Not the same as Styrofoam.
Epoxy resin: the coating on top of the fiberglass mesh cloth that covers the foam. Usually also covered in a layer of high gloss paint whereas a matte finish is used for carbon fiber boards.
Foil: See rail
Force: occurs at the shaft of a paddle
Fulcrum: the handle of a paddle
Keel fin: an angled fin that reduces drag by moving the surface area up towards the bottom of the board. Great for flat water or minimal side wake and smaller blades. Minimal drag and recommended for racing.
Leverage Brace: use paddle as crutch to lean on
Load: occurs at the blade of the paddle.
Planing board: floats above water. The nose comes out of the water completely and should never be submerged. There is usually no hull present on these boards and only a thin (not deep) rail similar to a surfboard.
Planing hull: displacement-type board whereas the nose sits out of the water so the entire board can glide on top. Usually present in touring boards. These boards may still have a thin rail and only have the hull present in the front, which will form a ‘V’ shape similar to a canoe’s hull.
Rail: Thickness of the hull’s outline. Also called foil.
Rocker: curvature of the board created by the stringer in the middle. The more curved the rocker the more the nose and tail will sit above the water and is usually designed for surf. The flatter the rocker the better the board will perform in flat conditions. Also called Bow / Flex.
Salty dog: someone who has spent a lot of time at sea or on an island also called old salt or true grit.
Shaft: pole of paddle where the force occurs.
Stringer: the center wood piece of a surfboard or paddleboard, which creates the rocker (bow / flex) shape.
Touring / Race board: hybrid between planing and displacement boards. Used for racing and long-distances. Usually have a thick (deep) rail or hull in the front.
Tracking: Direction the board moves
Trough: area between bumps
Volume: the amount of foam contained in a board which will usually correspond with its load limit i.e. 200 Liters can hold 200 pounds before being submerged.

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