Below is a summary of a recent intermediate to advanced SUP lesson for a client last week. He was looking to start racing and improve his turns and rough water skills. In 3 hours, we covered the following skills. It may seem like a lot but for an experienced paddler, he either already knew a version of each and just needed tips for improvement, or some of the skills were new him.
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Here’s a few of the strokes we covered Sunday.
- Crossbow – remember to look where you’re going. If turning (crossing over) left, look left. (not ahead). Keep fingers loose, both knees bent for best results. Just untwist, no power.
- Cross-bow – stall – While underway, cross over then hold the paddle in one location letting the board turn. Like the bow/nose forward rudder.
- Forward and Reverse Sweep Turns – Bent knees, place paddle at tail or nose, lower straight arm, watch the path of the paddle from one end to the next.
- Bow/Nose Rudder – Placing paddle by nose of board with power face facing hull. Works best when underway or for incoming current. Used to turn nose. Loose grip.
- Dufek (in book) same as nose rudder but in the middle of the board, place blade in water at side, power face facing hull or nose, rotate shaft to catch more or less water = resistance. Used to turn and go sideways.
- Ferry – technique used to cross fast current so you cross vs get pushed downstream. Place board in a 45 degree angle facing upstream – then keep your eyes/head on where you want to go. Pick a landmark such as a tree or rock. If you look right or left, you’ll lose the board angle and stall out. More board angle for slow current, less for swift current. Paddle on either side depending on speed of current. Also works in wind.
- Sideways - Side–draw. Place paddle in at side, pokerface facing hull. Upper arm straight and on handle, lower arm pulls shaft towards hull. Slice in-water to return blade to starting point. If the nose is turning, place blade in water at or behind feet. Further back for boards with more rocker. Slicing motion also works instead of puling in. Bend knees in bumps.
- Bracing – slapping blade on water at side when tippy. Paddle for stability. About to fall? Get low. Don’t get high to find balance. Or paddle. When in doubt, paddle.
- Turning by pushing a rail in the water on one side. Try both to see what happens. Great for slight turn.
- Walking on board – when paddling, step or jump back then forward. Keep paddling when doing this. Or place blade flat on water at your side. Get comfortable moving about.
- Pivot/Buoy Turn – when paddling or blade flat on water at side, step/slide back behind handle. Turn board. Then move back further. Turn board, etc. At the tail, knees must be bent, be in surfing stance (one foot back) and you should be paddling constantly to stay balanced. Be willing to get wet. Spin in 360s or jack up the board as far as you can go then recover. Watch fin on bottom.
- Using Eddies – look for water with no current behind an obstruction like a dock, rock etc. Use these to move upstream swerving in/out. Works in wind too.
- Forward stroke recovery in-water by slicing blade from exit position parallel to the hull and forward to the nose. Powerface facing the hull. Great for stability and wind.
- Upwind or lost/broken paddle – Prone on belly, paddle blade under chest, using both hands to paddle. OR sitting, using a canoe stroke (one blade) or both ends of the paddle like a kayak paddle.
- Falling – always fall flat. Get back on at the rail adjacent to the tail which is easier to grab the opposite side. Kick hard to float body to surface while pulling on.
- Sweeping brace – during forward stroke, instead of feathering above surface, slide it across the surface like a hydroplane, leading edge up. This will give you a lot of stability in rough water. Same technique for the sweep turn during a pivot/buoy turn.
What next? Aside from working on the above, think about learning to surf your 14’ board. The more rough water you get into the better racer you’ll be. You’ll be surprised how many paddlers can’t handle bumps or funky water with long boards. Paddle in clapotis (reverb), wind, small to medium sized surf, etc. Practice all turns in rough water as well. Use an incoming wave to help you turn your board 180 degrees on one stroke. Paddle smarter, not harder. Any questions, give me a holler! Rob
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