At some point as an instructor, guide or paddler you may come across another paddler who can’t get on their board due to fatigue or injury. You may also come across a non SUP’er such as a swimmer, capsized kayaker or similar person who may need assistance.

The Flip Rescue (as I call it) is a great method to get a paddler back on their board.  Those familiar with rafting know this technique as well.  This video HERE shows the basic technique.  In the video, the SUP’er is apparently rescuing a swimmer or a paddler who lost their board (no leash?).

I recently read of an insructor who had a very fatigued student who couldn’t get back on their board.  He used the flip rescue with success to pull the paddler out of the water.

Tips for a Successful Rescue:

Determine immediatly if the rescuee is conscious and needs CPR.  If they are conscious, determine if they are hypothermic, (slurred speach, numbness, fatigue, etc).  Check for any injuries.  Ask them every few minutes if they are warm and how their fatigue level is.

When you flip their board over, make sure to avoid hitting the rescuee or yourself.

– Place their paddle between their body and their overtuned board. When you flip them on to their board, their paddle will be pinned under their chest to the board, (rather than floating away).  You can place your paddle next to theirs in the water or keep it between their board and you.

– If they’re wearing a Type 3 vest style PFD, grab both shoulder straps for pulling onto their board.

– If they don’t have a Type 3 vest or the shoulder straps are loose, cross their arms and hold on to their hands as you flip them over.

– If the rescuee is a big person or larger than you, stand on their overturned board to get as much leverage as possible before falling back to flip them on their board.

– When falling back to flip their board over, keep your board at a distance to avoid hitting it as you fall backwards.  Coiled leashes will unfortantly pull your board towards you.

– Once the rescuee is on their board, swing them around so the are laying prone with their head facing the nose/bow of the board and feet on the board pointed towards the tail/stern.  Align their paddle shaft so it’s under them with the handle sticking out towards the nose.  You can use the paddle shaft or handle to attach a tow line to if necessary.

4 Ways to get the rescuee back to shore:
– Lay on top of them and prone paddle to shore (with your board attached to your leash dragging behind). This may not work depending on your arm length, the thickness of the board or the rescuee.

– If their board is big enough, stand on their board and paddle back, providing you’re not going upwind with your board dragging behind attached to your leash.

– If you’re close to shore, swim their board back pushing from one side of the board.  This may fail if you’re fighting wind and/or current or the conditions are in surf or other large waves. Plus pushing a large heavy object sideways isn’t the most efficient way to go.

– Tow the rescuee back to shore using a waist or board mounted tow rope.  I’d recommend paddling prone or sitting on your board if you’re going upwind.  I don’t recommend giving them your leash to hold on to in rough conditions if you lack a tow rope.  Loosing your board would make the situation a bit worse.  See Tow Rope types.  When towing, make sure you have a quick release buckle on you and also attached to the swimmer.  Avoid towing in surf or in fast river conditions.  Tow systems can be stored on your board or attached to your waist or to a quick release belt on a Type 3 Rescue PFD.

Additional Rescue Tips for Instructors – (in brief, this can be a lengthly topic in itself):
– Take a CPR/First Aid class and/or Wilderness First Aid.
– As an instructor, carry a waterproofed bag with extra warm clothing, chemical heat packets, extra energy bars (or similar), mini First Aid kit, VHF radio (know how to use it), rocket flares, and a mylar emergency blanket. We call this a ‘hypo kit’ (hypothermia).  Kit contents vary depending on your region and type of tour or class.
– Practice the Flip Rescue.

Salmon Bay Paddle SUP Tips

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