Riding on Waves 201
Waving Goodbye to the Basics
So, you’re confident and comfortable on your inflatable stand-up paddleboard (iSUP) now and are looking to move on from the basics. The next logical step, especially if you are surfing in ocean conditions, is to begin riding on waves. Not only is surfing on an iSUP extremely thrilling, but it is also a great workout and tons of fun!
However, before you leave the calm shallows behind for a greater challenge, there are some important factors to consider. Let’s take a look at some of the key prep you need to do before riding on waves!
Practice Good Safety and Surf Safely
While surfing conjures up images of daredevils snaking their boards through monster barrel waves, any pro will tell you that following surfing safety protocols will turn you into a better surfer, and can also prevent accidents from occurring out on the water. Whether you’re a beginner or pro, here are 5 safety tips to follow when riding on waves!
1. Make Sure you are Up to the Challenge
Cutting through the whitewater to get to the waves is not as easy as it looks. You need powerful arm and leg muscles to battle against the ocean currents, and even weak tides can be quite the challenge to fight at times.
Before diving headfirst into your iSUP surfing journey, build a fitness routine that revolves around swimming. Once your arms and legs are used to power through the water, you’ll have no issues reaching the waves of your dreams!
2. Awareness is Key
Constantly be vigilant about what is around you and around other surfers. This safety precaution is just as much about protecting others as it is about protecting yourself. If you remain alert while riding on waves, you may be able to help a fellow surfer out, and can also avoid sharp rocks and reefs.
3. Stay Current with Weather Conditions
Practice identifying different types of currents so that you know how to exploit them to get away from shore faster, and what types of currents to avoid. If a riptide takes you by surprise, you could be in for a tough time. The more you get out on the water, the easier it’ll become to identify the various types of currents that are common to experience. Don’t forget to check the weather conditions each and every time you head out to surf, especially if you live near the coast, since weather patterns can change quickly.
4. Learn how to Fall
You’re going to definitely fall off your board at some point, so learning how to minimize injuries when you fall is crucial. If you are using a hard SUP, it’s important to fall off the side of your board so that you hit the water and don’t hurt yourself on the hard surface of your board. This is less of an issue with iSUPs, but should still be kept in mind.
5. Stop When you’re Tired
Don’t forget that you will need to head back to shore after your fun day out riding on waves. If you tire yourself out too fast, getting back will be a slog, and you might not have the energy to fight the ocean current. It’s important to know your limits and stick to them.
Training to Ride Waves – 5 Advanced Techniques
1. Paddling through Whitewater
First, approach the wave quickly, in a staggered stance, and at a perpendicular angle. You should shift into your surf stance as the whitewater approaches. Finally, plant your paddle hard into the whitewash and power the nose of your iSUP over the whitewater. Brace after, so that you are not dislodged from your board by the impact.
2. Getting the Hang of Smaller Boards
Smaller boards provide the agility needed when riding on waves, but they can be tricky to master. The first thing to keep in mind is to remain in a slightly staggered stance. This will give you the ability to have better control over your board. You should also constantly have your paddle in the water to help you balance. Smaller boards are not as easy to balance on as wider, higher volume ones, so you’ll need your paddle for that extra stability. Finally, keep paddling! Some smaller boards will literally sink if you don’t paddle enough. Make sure you’ve always got some forward momentum on a smaller board.
3. Catching Waves
Use short, rapid, and high-powered strokes to build up speed and momentum when pushing into a wave. When approaching a wave, start in a staggered stance and then switch to a surfing stance when you’re just about to catch the wave.
4. Porpoise Pumping
When you’re in position and the wave is approaching, you can try out a technique called porpoise pumping from your surf stance. Essentially, you’ll need to pump your front foot up and down so that the motion helps propel your board towards the wave. Push down into the water when you pump your foot down and as you pull back with your paddle, your front foot should be rising. Once you master this technique, you can build up even more speed when approaching and riding on waves.
5. Paddle Turns
When riding on a wave, you’ll need to turn sharply so that you can remain on the wave for as long as possible. Use your paddle to assist you by paddling forward for speed and pulling or pushing against it to aid with sharp turns.
Best Boards for the Job
For riding on waves, a shorter and lighter board is usually the way to go. Such boards are easier to build speed with and offer greater maneuverability. A few excellent options include:
This board is suitable for both beginners and advanced surfers since the board is not too small and hard to manage. The sturdy design makes it an absolute champ at taking on rougher conditions, while the board’s unique swallowtail design allows for amazing connection and feel when riding on waves.
The AquaPlanet Wilderness is a board that can be used for surfing, as well as any other type of ocean-based adventure! This board is built to be sturdy so that surfers can keep their balance even in the trickiest of conditions. The superb construction of this board also means you can take it to reefs and coastal waters, where the chances of experiencing unexpected bumps are far higher.
This board is small enough for younger surfers to find their sea legs when riding on waves but is also a great option for more advanced surfers. Built to be light and easy to maneuver, the PhantomSurf makes surfing a true delight. Similar to the Wingtail, this board also features a swallowtail design that’s ideal for feeling connected to waves as well as for building drive.
Barrel into a Good Time!
After considering these key safety tips, surfing techniques, and great boards, you should have a solid launching point to keep growing as a paddleboarder. Riding on waves is one of the best ways to grow your skills and attract positive attention out on the water. With an amazing community of iSUP surfers all over the world, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t pick up your board, get out into the water, and wave goodbye to your worries!