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SUP Rescue with Moi's SUP School and Plus Sized Paddler

Posted by Lydia Burdett

How important is it to learn how to self-rescue ?

Self-rescue is an absolutely vital skill to learn when considering taking up paddleboarding as there is a strong possibility that you will fall-in – we are doing a watersport after all! Without the essential knowledge, skills and confidence it can be extremely daunting, frustrating and exhausting to get back on your board. And more importantly with our rivers and seas rarely getting above 15 degrees – the point at which cold water shock syndrome can set-in - it’s essential to get out of the water and back on your board.

What are the benefits of learning in a pool?

We are the UK’s only SUP School to run regular, dedicated self-rescue clinics during the ‘off-season’ winter months in swimming pools around Oxfordshire. For the last 3 years we’ve welcomed over 200 ‘students ‘from as far afield as Essex & East Anglia looking to learn this essential skill in a warm, safe, comfortable environment without the added worry of water quality or water depth. Students are more than happy to practice falling-in and practicing different methods of self-rescue all under the guidance of Moi’s SUP School coaches.

What was it like to be joined by a Red ambassador for the sessions?

We strongly believe in paddleboarding being as all-inclusive as possible with a strong focus on ‘body-positivity’, We were delighted that Sarah aka @plussizepaddler & Red Ambassador was able to join us and run her highly successful #PaddleHerWay clinic this March, We welcomed six paddlers keen to learn alternative methods of self-rescue with & without the use of assistance straps, all using Moi’s SUP School fleet of Red 10'8" Ride paddleboards which offered the stability and low rail depth essential for effective self-rescue.

Can you share some top tips to those reading about how best to self rescue on a paddleboard?

  1. Get a lesson from a registered SUP School - Moi’s SUP School is a registered BSUPA School which means that we carry all the appropriate insurances, certification and expert qualified instructors.
  2. Ensure that your buoyancy aid is fit for purpose and fits well – a buoyancy aid is not a lifejacket (there is a difference!). Please do not buy anything online under the guise ‘suitable for paddleboarding’ – go to an expert and/or dedicated watersports store to get expert advice & fitting.
  3. When you fall-in the water (and it will happen!), don’t panic. It will of course be a shock and it will take your breath away for a moment. If you can fall in as flat as possible you will not go as deep into the water (think Starfish position!). Relax, take your time and present yourself at the side of the board by the centre handle. With one hand on the handle and one hand on the deck, use a combination of pushing down with your hands and kicking with your feet behind you. If you feel you need to grab the opposite rail to help, please consider that this can tip the board over. Alternatively you can swim to the back (tail) of the board, sink the tail underneath your ribcage and pull yourself up the board. There are assistance straps on the market to help with this method of self-rescue but please be aware of how to correctly use them.
  4. Preferably go out paddling with an experienced ‘buddy’ who can help you with self-rescue by coming alongside and putting pressure down on the opposite rail to keep the board flat, which will enable easier self-rescue.
  5. If you find that your paddle is in the water, simply lie flat on the board and prone-paddle to retrieve
  6. Make sure you compose yourself before paddling off and if you are feeling cold, get off the water as soon as possible.
  7. Always carry your phone in a waterproof case.

Does this increase your confidence out on the water?

The majority of beginner paddlers have a ‘Fear of Falling-In’ which can lead to them ‘planting’ themselves on the board with their feet, which can in turn lead to cramps & discomfort. Learning the best self-rescue method (that suits you) and having the confidence to do so in the comfort of an indoor pool first makes for a significantly more happier and relaxed paddling experience.

Our ‘in-pool’ self-rescue sessions take place every year during the winter months at locations across Oxfordshire, from October to April. Our winter 2024/2025 dates are soon to be published but all the information is readily available on our website Indoor Paddle Boarding Lessons, Oxfordshire - Moi's SUP School ( As you can imagine, spaces on these clinics get snapped up really quickly, so it’s best to subscribe to our newsletters (via home page) and follow us also on FB and IG - @moisupschool – for when the dates are announced!