What if prior to a race or rental, people had to show that they could safely perform a set of basic paddleboard skills in order to be allowed to rent boards or participate in a race?
Safely demonstrate the following
- Launch and comfortably stand on a paddleboard
- Hold the paddle correctly
- Paddle 50 feet to a buoy, stop, turn around and return
- Paddle on both sides of the board
- Fall off and get back on
- Give a visual indication that you need help
- Give a visual indication that you are ok
- Operate a pfd
- Out on and take off a leash
Do you add a basic written test? Do you ask right-of-way questions? Basic boating safety information?
What’s level 2? What’s level 3?
How would these broken out into paddling, ocean skills, surfing, whitewater, downwind skills? There are people doing this already. It’s just not mainstream and it’s connected to teaching. The ACA seems to be leading the way in this area.
Karate has it’s belt system. Should Paddleboarding have it’s own?
That way, we could have most everyone do basic skills the day before the event, make sure we’re putting people safely on the water.
Take that a step further and what if certifications to teach required a specific level of skills pre-certification? That way people weren’t getting certified to teach who were new to paddling. This use to happen all the time. Not as much anymore, but it would make sense.
What if they fail?
That’s good. At least we know on the edge of the shore if they have the skills to race, to paddle out and most importantly, to get back safely.
Have a beginner class the day before or right before the race. Schedule a basic group lesson. If they fail, offer a beginner course. All of these options build income for shops and instructors, safety for the paddlers, and sanity for race directors.
Go ahead, poke holes.
That way the concept gets stronger. Could something like this work? Will insurance companies drive it? What’s going on in other sports? Someone’s doing it.