How To Use A Surf Paddle
Knowing how to use a surf paddle is not really the hard part in stand up surfing. The hard part is keeping your balance. Beginners are easy to spot wobbling around like a baby deer on ice. Like all great art forms, it will take a little while to learn the basics and a lifetime of love to master.
To use a surf paddle, you will need:
- A stand up paddling surfboard
- A stand up paddle (around seven inches taller than you)
- Basics. Find a mellow spot offshore away from the waves and crowds. Sheltered spots like harbors work wonderfully. Now, stand up on your board near the middle. You want to spread your feet shoulder length apart. Now, start to paddle. You will have a dominant side that paddles like a pro and a confused other half. Make sure to paddle on both sides.
- The Oar. It will take some time getting used to a surf paddle. It will feel weird holding it when you start out and completely awkward when you fall off your board. When you do bail, hold onto your oar! A loose paddle is dangerous in the lineup but almost invisible as well. You should practice swimming with your paddle because you will end up doing this a lot.
- Going out to sea. Always go around the throng of surfers paddling back to the lineup because your oar gives you more speed and you will be overtaking them. As you approach the break, remember, you can’t duckdive that massive board. So, paddle hard towards the approaching wave. Now, slide one foot back and press down to lift the front of the board a little. As the wave rolls under your board, lean forward. Much like duckdiving, this takes a lot of practice.
- First wave. When you paddle for a wave, you first paddle hard on the side the wave is breaking towards. If it breaks left, paddle on your left side. Before the wave breaks, switch over and paddle on the other side. As you slide onto the wave, switch your feet to your regular (or goofy brah) foot stance. If you forget to switch your stance, you will hopefully just fall off but you can also face plant onto your board. Ouch.
- Ride. When you slide onto the wave, you can drag your paddle to slow down and enjoy. If you are in a slow section, you can paddle hard to accelerate back onto the wave. You can also use a surf paddle like a rudder to turn and carve.
If you don’t know how to surf yet, learn that one first. Seriously. It will make things easier if you understand the basics of wave sliding before you jump up to paddling. Plus, you won’t get screamed at when you lose your huge, canoe-like board in a mob of angry surfers.
When you get better, remember the little guys. Stand up surfers (janitors, oarons and others) have a huge advantage for catching waves. They start farther back and thus snake more rides from surfers and spongers. Don’t be a wave hog.