So you have taken your SUP out for a lazy Sunday afternoon cruise across calm waters, and now you think your ready for some stand up paddle surfing. First things first, do you have enough experience to hit the big waves? Things are quite a bit more hectic out on the surf..
Paddle Board Equipment
Get the right board… we’re not saying it is impossible, but it can make the experience much less enjoyable if your out there with the wrong board. Kind of like riding through sand with a thin tired road bike… even the most experienced riders will find it difficult. That being said, makes the inflatable paddle board best of what you’ve got, and go for it! It would however be a good idea to wear a life jacket when paddling out on the surf for the first few times. Worst case scenario, you fall onto the board, and bust yourself up a bit. This is why having multiple people to spot each other is always recommended. Most importantly, USE A LEASH!
Choose a Good SUP Surf Spot
Assuming you have an average sized stand up paddle board, you’re gonna want to start out on some pretty small waves. Anything between two and four feet should work well. The last thing you want to do is go out in six footers and get rocked… which also might decrease your interest in the sport a bit too. So don’t go overzealous when choosing the stand up paddle board surf spot. You want to start on waves that are less than waist high.
Get To Know the Rip Current
Even though you’re starting out on small waves, you want to get into the practice of using the rip current to your benefit. It is almost easier to spot the rip current on a stand up paddle board, simply because you have a better view of the waves. You will notice that they tend to crash more in some spots. In between the break points, the water is actually flowing slowly out away from shore. Stay in these areas when paddling out… it may not seem like it helps, but when you get into big waves you will be amazed at how much easier it is to get out beyond the surf when riding one of these. This is probably the number one mistake that is made by new surfers and stand up paddle surfers: they will exert all of their energy paddling out through the waves, only to find they are exhausted when it comes time to ride a wave.
After locating the rip current, you’re gonna want to paddle out right down the middle of it. You will find that the waves aren’t quite as steep in this area. One major issue that people with paddling out over waves is the lack of longitudinal stability. Your feet are side by side as if your riding on calm waters, but your balance will not be able to handle going up and over the waves. Use your paddle as much as you need to, and don’t be afraid to drop to your knees if need be. Some people find it easier to put their dominate foot a little bit back, just to get a little front to back stability on their stand up paddle surfer. One thing to keep in mind, no matter how out of balance you feel, keep your board straight on the waves. The second you go sideways, your most likely going for a swim.
Catch the Wave
Once you’re out beyond the waves, paddle away from the rip current, towards the breaks. It will still be wavy beyond the breaks, but the waves are much less steep. Stand up paddle surfers have the unique advantage of being able to see much lower into the trough, and they can also spot waves much easier. So at this point, your just gonna want to cruise around and wait for the right wave to come. This is a good time to greet all of the sharks that are circling below your feet;)