If you’re a paddling guide or instructor you may come across a situation where a student/customer needs a tow after becoming fatigued, sea sick, or in a worse case scenario injured possibly from a shoulder or other injury. In my neighorhood SUP is growing so quickly, many are getting on the water with little or no previous experience or are getting into trouble paddling downwind without being able to get back to their put-in.

Here’s a few options for towing a fellow SUP’er..

– Carry a kayaking throw rope or kayaker’s rescue line (in a waist mounted pouch). Ask the person being towed to hold onto the carabiner or rope. Consider asking them to sit down if they can’t stay up in rough seas, or if you’re paddling upwind. The waist mounted systems can be easily detached from your waist with a plastic fastex buckle. You could alternatively attach your end of the line to the loop on your leash plug. It’s wise to have a quick release on both ends in case of entanglement. Another option is to carry another leash and ask the person being towed to hold it while you attach your end from your leash plug.

Options for kayaking safety tow lines:
Salamander Outdoor Gear
North Water


– Similar to the technique above, some life vests have quick release strap systems to attach a safety line to. These are great for attaching your leash to while paddling whitewater. Flipping the plastic buckle or pull tab open, the attached line will slide free of the vest. Some vests have a short tow line built into a pocket. The Astral Green Jacket PFD is a good choice.

– Suggested by the ASI, give your leash to the person being towed to hold on to. Paddling standing up or sitting you can make good progress this way without adding additional lines. The downside of course if that you’ll be without a leash.

– Similar to the method above, attach the leash of the person being towed onto your leash plug. Again the downside is that the towee will be without a leash.

– Attach a leash plug to your nose for connection point in case of a tow.

Suggested by PonoBill on Standupzone.com 7/15/11:
Three ways. Bare board (no rider) put one foot on each board and paddle.

towing–the best is if there’s a leash plug under the nose–I only know of one board that has this–the Starboard 12’6″ — and not all of those do. Now that I think of it my 12’2″ AST might as well.

–otherwise, take the fin out and tow it backwards from the leash. You can’t tow backwards with the leash in place.

Salmon Bay Paddle SUP Tips

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