Standup PADDLE Surfing is a modern revival of an older surfing style from EARLY PART OF THE last century. The original INSPIRATION for this sport may have come from fishermen standing in their canoes and catching waves. This skill has now evolved into the sport we now know as Standup paddle boarding.
Boards: Standup Boards are wider than regular surfboards, and usually have more volume. This adds to their stability at slow speeds. This is known a static stability. The greater the static stability the easier the board is to learn on. This simply put means bigger is better. When learning How to SUP Standup Paddle Surf, larger riders will want larger boards. Longer is not always more stable. Mostly it is the width that aids initial stability. Some boards are designed for cruising along on relatively flat water, and some boards are designed for riding breaking waves. The cruising boards may be longer, 12’6″ to 14′. Surfing SUP boards may be shorter 10′ to 12′. Surfing standup boards will also have increased nose rocker to reduce pearling when dropping in on a steep wave. The board pictured below is an 11 foot SUP. With an EVA foam deck pad. And a DaKine board leash. This board is made from Styrofoam and epoxy resin, so it is lightweight and strong.
Paddles: Paddles are sometimes made of wood, or aluminum, or carbon fiber. Standup paddles are similar to canoe paddles, but standup paddles have longer shafts, so that the blade can reach down to the water whilst the surfer is in the standing position. Choosing your paddle length is a matter of preference. Most surfers will have a paddle one shaka (8inches) taller than their height. For flat-water coast running, I prefer a paddle 1.5 shakas taller than me (add 1foot). Most paddles can be customized to the rider’s height. I recommend having a few sessions with your paddle before you cut it!
Tip: when learning How to SUP Standup Paddle Surf you can wrap a layer of Duct tape to the paddle blade’s edge, so you don’t scratch the rails of your board.
Paddle blades are sometimes swept forward. this gives the paddle some stability during the stroke. The center of the blades resistance is behind the direction of the shaft’s movement. This helps to keep the paddle blade perpendicular to the stroke. When holding the paddle, make sure that the blade is bent away from your toes as shown.
Launching the board: When entering the water, take the board under your arm and walk straight in at 90 degrees to the surf. Chose a place with an easy water entry point. Preferably at a place with little or no shore-break. Holding the nose of the board securely under your arm, in this way will prevent the board from hitting your legs. Lead the board into the water, and the tail will stay behind you. Make sure you already have your board leash on, and that it is long enough to let you stand this way. The tail of the board will be dragging along the sand. Do not drag your board over rocks. When you get beyond the first few waves into waist to chest deep water, you can get on the board. Paddle away from the beach quickly, so that you do not get pushed back onto the beach by the waves.
Pushing the board? The pushing technique pictured here is not recommended for beginners. The oncoming wave can sweep the board to either side, or cause the tail to get pushed into the surfer. If you are trying this technique you must keep the board pointing directly at the wave, And with one rail raised up so that the wave does not slam down on the deck.
Tail First launch: One easy launch with small waves is to drag the board into the water tail-first. When learning How to SUP Standup Paddle Surf, Simply hold the base of the board leash, and lift the fin off the ground and pull the board into the water. Take care to only use this method in small waves because the board can buck upwards and wrench your arm if a large wave comes. Once in deep enough water, this surfer turns the board around before jumping on.
Starting to paddle: When you jump on the board you can start paddling from the kneeling position. Hold the shaft of the paddle and do some short strokes to get the board moving. Holding the paddle low down on the shaft make it easy to control the blade. Keep the board pointing into the waves as you paddle away from shore.
Going over the Waves: The board will go over the waves more easily at 90 degrees. Try not to let the board get side-on to the swell.
Alternating Strokes: You will have to paddle with an alternating stroke. Paddle a few strokes on on side of the board, and then you will change sides and paddle a few strokes on the other side. This will keep the board pointing in the intended direction. The board will do a slow s-shaped path as you paddle along. Do two or three strokes per side, and change the paddle to the other had, and do two-three strokes on the opposite side of the board.
Getting your balance: When starting out try to find flat water. It is easier to get your balance and coordination. Go out early in the mornings to avoid as much wind as possible. Wind makes paddling harder. and the water choppy. to get your balance, start out in the kneeling position, and then standup when you have more confidence. In the beginning, you may get tired feet and legs, and can sit or kneel down to rest.
Body position and Stance: When climbing up to your feet, stand halfway along the length of the board. a forward facing stance is best. Place your feet a shoulder width apart, and keep your knees bent slightly. Keep your eyes on the horizon to assist with balance. and stay loose as the board goes over small waves. Let the board move over the waves. Do not try to hold it super steady.
Reach with the paddle, and do not over-commit your weight outside the board. As you take a stroke with the paddle, the paddle will push back against you. As you gain experience, you can anticipate the thrust from the paddle and lean on it more.
You will find that you have more stability when the paddle’s blade is in the water.
Turning the Board: make sure that you have plenty of room to turn around. To maximize the time to turn before a wave, start turning as you reach the crest of one wave to get the maximum time before the next one comes. To turn the board you can paddle in a wide stroke on one side of the board, and then the board will travel forward in an arc. To do a faster turn you can backstroke on one side and forward stroke on the other. practice turning when you are on flat water. So that you are ready to turn quickly when you are among waves. make sure that when you are turning that you do not get the board sideways when the wave comes.