Fun and accessible aspects aside, the stand-up paddle board remains a water craft. As such, it is subject to maritime regulations. Itiwit helps you to take stock of the rules you need to know before going to sea, or out on another body of water!   

#1 The legal status of your stand-up board: beach recreational gear or vessel?

Checklist to see if you are allowed to distance yourself from the coast.

– If your board is inflatable or hard and under 3.5-m long, then you are in possession of beach recreational equipment and as such, you must remain within 300 m of the shore. If your board is inflatable or hard and under 3.5-m long, then you are in possession of beach recreational gear and as such, you must remain within 300 m of the shore. 

– If your board is hard and longer than 3.5 m, then you have the right to navigate up to 2 nautical miles (about 3 km) away from a sheltered area. You will need to equip yourself with a life jacket, a leash, a towing device (long and solid) and a light tracking device (waterproof flashlights secured to a life jacket).   

Note: The use of a leash is forbidden in river SUP. 


#2 SUP navigation rules in different bodies of water

Regardless of the body of water, there are certain places which are governed by specific rules of navigation.

- SUP is prohibited in swimming areas unless your board is classified as beach recreational equipment. 
- In general, avoid paddling among bathers.
- Crossing port entrance and exit channels is forbidden to SUP practitioners; away from the coast, the channels are marked by red cylindrical buoys on your right and by green conical buoys on your left.
- Be careful not to cross the path of craft that have restricted manoeuvrability (tug boats, sailboats, ships limited by their draught, etc.).
- Learn more about the protected areas that are within your itinerary.
- If you’re planning on sailing more than 300 m from the shore, do not go alone and inform the authorities of your departure.


#3 Priority guidelines in stand up paddle boarding

SUP: the rules of priority at sea
At sea, vessels with the most limited manoeuvring capacity are given priority. In SUP, therefore, you will have priority only over motor boats that have full manoeuvring capacity. Give way to sailboats, which have less manoeuvring capacity than you.   

SUP: the rules of priority in rivers
In rivers and enclosed bodies of water, the SUP is considered as a small craft: it must therefore move out of the way of all boats longer than 15 m (barges, cruisers). Again, sailboats must be given priority; however, a motorized craft of less than 15 m is obliged to manoeuvre around and away from you.  

The rules of priority... between two SUPs!
The one approaching from the right has the right-of-way! And if you find yourself face to face, you will have to pass on the left of the other practitioner... like in a car! 



#4 SUP surfing rules

In SUP as in surfing, there are a few rules to follow. 

- Surf at your level: Never hit the water if the conditions are too demanding for you. Begin in smaller breaking waves. 
- Never abandon your board: If you are caught by the current, let yourself drift; you will reach the coast a little farther away.
- Favour uncrowded spots.
- Follow surfing priorities: one wave = one surfer. The surfer who is closest to where the wave breaks has priority over the others.  

The water’s surface can be a universe of leisure and pleasure activities, all the more so if each one respects his place. To your paddle!