Published: Thursday, January 20, 2011
SUP is now a craze here in Florida. The proper use of the paddle, and board is one which we teach on a regular basis. Proper use and paddle position is first.
When I first started and tried out SUPing, my brain said to turn the paddle like I was scooping water with the blade facing the tail of the board, This was not the correct way. The correct position is with the blade facing the nose of the paddle board. After trying it, I did see how I was able to work better with the board when it came to catching and riding waves. The majority of all new SUPers can not afford to think like I did when I first started. Place the paddle correctly.
When it comes to paddle sizing it is important to make surf you have it at the correct length. I and all other professional stand up paddlers make sure to have the paddle between 8 to 10 inches over your head for proper length. I have 2 paddles, one 8'' overhead and one 10'' overhead. When it comes to surfing, I have used both and I prefer the longer paddle. Many paddlers like the shorter length shaft for faster movement when powering to catch waves and surf.
Catching waves and surfing on an SUP. Well we have picked the right sized board for your weight and experience, the right shaft length for the paddle and now you want to catch waves and surf. Surfing on an SUP is really different because you do not get to use both arms like in regular surfing. You have to adjust for the movement when you try to get going from a dead stop on the water. When at a stop the board will move quickly to the opposite side of where the paddle is moving. So if you have the paddle in the water on the left side, the board will move to the right more quickly than if you were already under movement. It will do the exact opposite if the paddle is on the right side. If the board is already under movement, it will not act as abrupt. The movements will be less dramatic and more gradual. The faster your board is moving, the less it moves right or left when catching the wave.
Now you want to catch a wave. The first thing that you have to do is be prepared once you see the swell coming in towards you. You want to position your board so that you can turn it towards the beach and begin paddling in a rate that will not take you not to far into the impact zone. If you under paddle, you'll miss the wave. if you over paddle, you might get pitched into the flats with the board coming to whack you in the head. Proper placement is really important so when you catch the wave, it's at the right place and right time. Another key is not to try catching to big of a wave, so you do not get hurt. Think small surf in the beginning. Even if you are an experienced surfer, there is a learning curve to SUP surfing. You must be standing to catch the wave correctly, this will only add to the overall experience and make it more fun. You see the small swell coming in, you start to paddle on the left, then the right. The board is moving in sync with the wave as it forms. Once you catch it and feel the board starting to accelerate, you turn into your surfing stance which will allow for proper board control. Keep your knees bent to maintain your balance and don't lean on the rails. If you keep yourself positioned on the rear of the board and centered, you will attain more immediate success and minimize the pitfalls of beginning 101 SUP surfing.
It is very important that after you catch the wave, you place your paddle in the water to act as a pivot to aide in turning. Once you have caught the wave and jammed your paddle into the water for turning, use it for advancing along the wave. Pumping your board by paddle will help in keeping up with the wave in case you surf in Florida where it does close out frequently. Along the wave, you may use the paddle to redirect back into the curl and back out in front of the wave as you ride it. I personally switch stance to help in moving the board more in syncronisity with the wave as it comes to me. Not all waves are alike. In Florida we do have many beach break conditions that cause for all surfers and SUP surfers to make adjustments for best wave rides. Whether going left or right, you will need to make the proper adjustments for best wave rides. Remember try small waves to ensure that you will not be overdone by the conditions, board, and lack of experience. Paddling back out is also a chore for all new and some that are not so new at surfing.
Paddling back out into the line up is best on your feet, but I and all others have been on their knees while dealing with the whitewater. I have found that being on my knees has allowed for the whitewater to knock me off the board more likely than if I were on my feet. If you are on your feet, you will be less likely to get drug off the board by the oceans energy. Standing is not as easy as it sounds when paddling back out. You must first engage the turbulance after the wave breaks or may be when the wave crests before breaking. If you pause, you will be knocked off the board in any regard. Paddle with deligence and aggression. The faster you get past the impact zone, the sooner you will be able to rest and not get knocked around by the ocean. I have turned into surfing stance upon a wave that is ready to break and then shifted back into paddle stance, but this is not an amatuer manuver. This takes many practice days and many falls to get right. If you understand that Rome was not built in one day, SUP surfing will not come to you without proper assistance. There are many people out in the water, so it is imperative that you know how to share the water safely. Do not think that others will be as gracious to you if you barrel through them while learning this sport. Find an out of the way location to practice you new found interest, and when you gain control over you vessel, don't forget others want to ride waves also. Be courteous and friendly. Share the water with all others, because we came from surfing before we entered the SUP Zone.
If you need assistance with your attempt to catch waves, or want some expert instruction in the world of SUP surfing, give me a call or email for the best lesson you can get. Enjoy!!