Although we’ve been teaching stand up paddle boarding for almost six years now, SUP is still a fairly new sport when it comes to establishing standards for industry providers like Paddle Diva. A recent, fatal incident near our winter home in Rincon, Puerto Rico, illustrates the need for strong regulation of the industry both for SUP instructors — and even more importantly, for the hundreds and thousands of watersports vendors that offer SUP rentals to vacationers without providing even a minimal amount of SUP and water safety instructions.
In the nearby resort town of Aguadilla, a young couple rented out equipment to go paddle boarding off Crash Boat Beach. After being reported missing at the end of the day, the Coast Guard was called in to start the search. The paddleboards were found first (indicating that neither of them had been properly tethered to their boards – it’s still a mystery why their leashes were off); the man was found later that evening, stranded on Desecheo Island suffering from dehydration and injuries. The woman’s body was never retrieved. The two may have been trying to explore the island from their paddleboards and been caught unprepared for some bad weather.
Following the rescue, Coast Guard officials stressed the importance of taking care to always follow safety protocols when paddle boarding, such as using a life preserver, carrying a whistle or even a cell phone. And as always happens after any tragedy, there was an outcry to establish and enforce real regulations on companies that rent SUP equipment to novices. There are plenty of companies that provide boards but are not qualified to instruct on their proper use or on water safety.
Paddle Diva continues to be a leader in the field of SUP instruction, offering quarterly SUP instructor workshops, bi-annual SUP Yoga Teacher Training and SUP certification training through the Academy of Surf Instructors (ASI). We’re proud to be affiliated with the ASI as their accreditation and certification programs are setting and leading the industry standards for SUP instruction. ASI’s educational programs and training sessions provided through Paddle Diva are geared toward developing high quality and consistent water safety standards.