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Surfing your SUP, mastering the basics of stand up paddle boarding.

Updated: Jun 25, 2022

Are you a stand-up paddle-boarder looking to learn to surf? Surfing waves on a SUP is a very different sport from flatwater paddling. To surf waves on your SUP, there are new skills you need to acquire. Not to worry though, if you’re comfortable paddling your board in flatwater, including on those windy and choppy days, you probably have a good head start over a beginner paddle boarder or even surfer!


For SUP surfing, pick a board no wider than 32 inches and in the 9 foot range. Too wide will not work well and too long will impact the maneuverability. Get a paddleboard that has a surfboard-type shape, vs one that looks more like it is used for a lake or in calm waters. It should typically look like an oversized surfboard.


Paddleboard surfers generally use paddles with smaller blades than the larger blades used for touring. This is done for less resistance and a higher number of strokes, you need some speed! When sizing your paddle for paddleboard surfing, a rough guide is a paddle approximately matching your height, but it really comes down to personal preference and board size. Your surf paddle will be slightly shorter than your touring paddle to compensate for your body moving, bending and compressing to balance in chop and swell, which brings you closer to the water and allows for effective motion as you balance on the waves.


When learning to catch waves on the Stand-up Paddleboard, you’ll stand on a board in deeper water and need to balance, gain speed, turn the board and position yourself in the unbroken swell, which is harder to identify. Your foot position also needs to change from the regular SUP square stance to a surf stance at the right time. One thing to practice is too utilize the Surf Stance while on flat water, this will give you the confidence and balance to catch waves.


SUP surfers will benefit from being able to comfortably perform intermediate paddling maneuvers like pivot turns and different foot stances before trying to surf. Fortunately, the skills needed to paddle out and catch waves and the foot positioning for riding waves can all be practiced while paddling flatwater.


Finally its about finding the right waves, they should be knee to waist level high to start with, and I cannot say this enough to always maintain a good distance from where prone surfers are congregating, finally choose a wave, make sure your path is clear of others, paddle to gain momentum, and turn the board towards the beach, at the proper place on the wave in your surf stance. Paddle to match the speed of the wave to catch it and you will be riding that first wave.




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