paddle sup surf

Correct use of your paddle for sup surfing

How to properly use your paddle in sup surf, support at the bottom turn, the divot point for the top turn? Follow our paddle surfing tips!

If you decide to specialize in stand up paddle surfing, you will need an appropriate paddle to withstand the very strong wave pressure and help you build up ever tighter turns. Here are our tips for the correct use of your paddle in SUP surfing.

paddle sup surf

Which paddle and which size to use for surfing

To get started in SUP surfing, you can use your touring paddle.

If you want to specialise and use a SUP surfing board, you will need a sturdy paddle to withstand the aggressive strokes needed for take-off.To launch the board in the slope of the wave, you will need to paddle very fast, or the wave will pass underneath the board and continue without you.To be effective, you need to make as many paddle strokes in as little time as possible. Finally, the blade of the paddle must not be too wide, to protect your shoulders during this very intense take-off.

As for your paddle size, you should adjust it  (exactly to your height) to be shorter than when you are touring. You must only use the paddle to propel yourself for a few seconds during take-off. After this, it will be used for ever tighter manoeuvres on the wave (roller). This is why it needs to be as compact as possible during the whole movement sequence on the wave.

Remember that this new adjustment will greatly modify your paddling position. You will need to lean forward much more during take-off, so that the blade penetrates the water properly.It will take a little while to get used to.

If you can adjust the height of your paddle, make the most of this to try out different lengths. You’ll see that it can be useful to use the touring length (around 15 cm more than your height), to move through broken waves with enough power, then to shorten it when you’re positioned for take-off.

paddle surf bottom turn

Support on the wave during the bottom turn

Naturally, you will be facing "frontside". This means to the right on the wave if you’re regular (right foot behind) or to the left if you’re goofy (left foot behind). Turn your shoulders towards the direction in which you want to turn your board. The paddle must always be between you and the wave. This will allow you to paddle if the board has trouble gaining speed. It can also provide support during turns if you place the blade flat on the wave. The body naturally leans into the turn, so that the rails (the back parts of the board that “bite into the water”) can get a good hold in the wave to move back up towards the top. Support from your paddle will help you stay standing if you lose your balance.

Don’t forget that it is your shoulders and not your feet that turn the board in the wave when you are in the “surfing” position (one foot in front, one foot behind).

If you are facing the backside, the wave will be behind you. Lean onto your heels to turn the board at the bottom of the wave (bottom turn). In this case, you will naturally hold your paddle beachside. You will not be able to use it for support on the wave. It will just allow you to get moving again by paddling if you lose speed. Using the paddle wave side in backside surfing is more technical because you will need to twist your pelvis to get support on the wave. However, it gives you a good support point on the wave to achieve a tighter turn and avoid tipping backward. For this, the paddle needs to be positioned on the wave-side from backside takeoff.

The pivot point in a top turn

Once you have completed your bottom turn, the board climbs towards the top of the wave. You will need to do a top turn (turn at the top of the wave) to redirect the board into the wave for another bottom turn.

To help pivot the board towards the slope of the wave, which is a turn of over 90°, you need to plant the paddle with strength into the water on the wave side. This will help you to push on your arms and send the rest of your body towards the slope.

At its extreme, this twisting movement between the shoulders and lower body allows you to make a very tight top turn. This keeps you in the most propulsive zone of the wave, near the breaking zone (peak).

This is the only move in SUP surfing where you will not use your shoulders to start the turn. This use of the paddle in the wave allows SUP surfers to perform much more radical turns than in normal surfing. And yes, as you will have understood, SUP surfing facilitates wave surfing and rollers (linking together top and bottom turns) are easier thanks to this accessory that surfers don’t have: the paddle!

sup surf top turn
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