Paddling out through the waves
Unless you are lucky enough to surf regularly at a perfect, peeling point break then you are going to have to confront a broken wave at some point. It's not as tricky as it sounds and just like a good, clean duck dive it can be a pretty cool thing to do especially on bigger days when the adrenalin is flowing.
The best way to paddle over unbroken waves is to stay in your parallel stance and give a good solid stroke before you head up the wave.Use your bent knees and ankles as suspension and flex them to absorb the rise and fall of the wave. If the wave is really steep then you may want to move your feet into their surfing stance for more board control. Use your paddle as a brace when you pass over the back of the wave.
White water/Broken wave
This is the trickiest type of wave to deal with but you will be surprised how quickly you'll master it.
As you approach the wave keep your paddle speed up and if possible increase it. Just as you get to the wave switch your feet into your surfing stance and step back down the board by about a foot. Just before the wave comes in contact with the nose of your board put in a good powerful paddle stroke on the opposite side to your stance (i.e. if you are regular footed paddle on your right, if you are goofy paddle on your left). The important thing is to make sure the board is heading straight for the wave. As you put in this paddle stroke lean back to allow the nose of the board to rise up. As the wave moves under the board lean forward again to counteract the push of the wave. As the board rises to the top of the wave and over the back use your paddle in a flat brace position to stabilise you. As soon as you can you need to put in another paddle stroke to start moving forward again. When stable, move back into your paddling stance.
There will come a time that you don't have the confidence to get over or through a wave and a bail out will be your only option.Bail outs can be dangerous for other surfers as your board is pretty big and on a long leash (dont forget the leash!).
The best way to bail out is to throw your paddle over the back of the approaching wave and then if you are well clear of other surfers jump in and grab the leash as close to the back of the board as possible - this will stop it flying off and hitting other surfers.
If you are close to other surfers then try and paddle into the wave and take it on the head(!), bend down and grab the rail and try to ride it out. If you can absorb the initial impact you are less likely to lose your board. One other option is stand at the back of the board and try and kick/force it over the foam. Whatever you do make sure you are not going to hit another surfer. You will probably have the biggest board in the surf so be aware!
Catching a wave
Once you are out the back you are ready to catch a wave. Don't go for anything too big or too critical for your first waves. You'll find that you are able to get up and riding on a wave a lot earlier than arm paddling surfers, especially once you have been doing it for a while and have a good paddling style.
First off, turn your board in the direction of the beach. Put in some long strokes to build up speed, as the swell approaches draw long powerful strokes speeding up the stroke as you feel the swell pick you up. All this should be done with your feet in the forward facing position. This is the most powerful and efficient paddling technique. As you feel the board pick up speed on the swell step into your riding stance (one foot in front of the other) and step back down the board. You will also find that you can use your paddle to help steer you down the wave as well. You can lean on the paddle in turns to give you a tighter turn. Basically you can build up your own style on the wave. Get up on the nose and ride through some critical sections. Do exactly what you want. Don't forget to get mobile on the board and use the paddle to help you.
Here at Starboard SUPWell we like to encourage a culture of respect and sharing.
Today's stand up paddle boards allow you to catch waves a lot earlier than even the long boarders. This is great but can lead to congestion problems on the water at crowded breaks. Don't steal all the waves. Ride a few then let a few pass under your board. Use your elevated position to call the sets for the other surfers. Use your paddle to head off to other peaks on the beach, which maybe you haven't ridden before. In Hawaii they call it "Surfing with Aloha". It isn't difficult to do, but it will mean the sport grows and is respected by other water users. Don't be greedy out there - give respect to gain respect.
Good luck and get out there....
If you need some extra guidance, support or just want to have a great time paddling with like minded people, please come along to one of our classes!Book a Class