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Catching a wave 101 at Turn The Tide, a blog by HeySurf

Catching A Wave 101

Catching the Perfect Wave

Once you’ve mastered paddling on your iSUP (inflatable stand up paddleboard), you’ll definitely want to try something a little more exciting and challenging. Getting out amongst the waves is a great way to build more skill and grow your confidence out on the water – not to mention it’s seriously fun! The easiest way to begin your iSUP surfing journey is to catch a wave. This is when you are able to position your board just right so that when a wave crests, it begins to push your board forward, enabling you to ride that wave’s momentum. In this article, you’ll gain all the tools, tips, and tricks necessary to catch the perfect wave in no time at all!

The Right Board Makes all the Difference

iSUPs are built with many different purposes in mind, and not all are designed to make it easy to catch a wave. This means that selecting a suitable board is key in how easy your learning curve will be out on the waves. As a general rule of thumb, it helps to have a longer board with plenty of glide. Shorter boards can also be used, but usually require more skill and effort for success. 

The AquaPlanet Wingtail is an ideal pick for beginners and advanced boarders looking to catch a wave in comfort and style. The board is designed to be highly stable and excels in both calm and rough waters. With useful features like 4” rails, a kick pad and rocker, and a durable design, this is the ideal companion for those looking for a board with amazing connection and maneuverability in challenging conditions.

Another great option is the Aquaplanet Wilderness iSUP, though it is more suited for advanced boarders. Its sturdy construction protects against bumps and rougher waters while offering unparalleled stability and balance – perfect for catching a wave.

Mastering the Basics

Catching a wave is the point when a wave meets the tail-end of your board and pushes you as you paddle. It’s important to remember to catch a wave only before or after it has broken. If you do this as it breaks, it will likely cause you to “pearl”, or nosedive. A quick tip for beginners is to try and catch a wave earlier than you normally would. 

While larger waves further out at sea might look more tempting, it’s always best to practice in closer waters first. The smaller waves are a great starting point and can help you build your skills before taking on more challenging waves. Once you have your technique down, being able to catch a big wave can transform an average iSUP session into something epic!

Building Your Technique

In order to catch a wave successfully, you will need to work on three main parts of your technique. The first is your stance, which helps you remain planted and stable on your board. The second is paddle control. Knowing the best strokes and building up your paddling strength is imperative to successfully catch a wave. Finally, you’ll want to know what to do when you actually catch a wave so you don’t end up wiping out. 

Start with a Solid Stance

Avoid using a parallel stance as it does not provide the stability you require. A parallel stance is where you stand with your feet horizontally, shoulder width apart. Instead, you should adopt a surfing stance with your front foot as far forward as you can manage. This allows you to have a wider base while also getting your body forward so you can paddle with more strength. 

Lean Forward for Power 

With the right stance, catching a wave becomes far easier. You’ll want to have your front knee bent so that your bodyweight is leaning as far forward as possible. To catch a wave early, keep your bodyweight fully-loaded on your front leg with your back leg only being used for minimal support and balance. By leaning forward on your front leg, you can reach further with your paddle to generate more force in your strokes and pull yourself onto the wave.

Practice Your Paddling 

Building up your technique and power with a paddle is a key step in being able to catch a wave. Before heading out into the surf, practice your SUP strokes and build familiarity with your paddle on flatter waters. When you’re ready to catch a wave, bend your front knee and keep your body low to plant your board, which will give you a strong base for stability when paddling. 

Cresting the Wave

You’ve worked hard on your technique, you have a great stance, and your paddling prowess is on point. It’s finally time to apply what you’ve learned! When catching a wave early, you want to make sure you’re looking down the wave with your board pointing towards the beach. This will position you optimally for the wave to push against the back of your board.  As you feel the wave building, you may need to increase your paddling speed to maneuver into the right position. With the wave’s momentum behind you, use short, sharp paddle strokes all the way up to the nose of your board to pull yourself down the unbroken wave face. 

Ultimately, it’s all about timing, technique, and positioning. The more you practice, the more all these components will come together into a cohesive whole. Soon enough, you’ll be able to easily handle whatever the gentler waves throw at you and you’ll be ready to take on some bigger ones!

Practice Makes Perfect

The old adage ‘practice makes perfect’ may be cliché, but it holds true when it comes to catching a wave. Remember to develop your technique, stance, and paddling power. You’ll also need to work on your timing and positioning as you get a feel for how the waves behave. If you find it tough going at the start, you can always head to a new location and find gentler, sloping waves to make things easier. 

Remember to have fun while practicing because improvement is super rewarding. Before long, you’ll be tackling the big waves and be the envy of all those watching you tear it up! 

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