Whether you’ve had some experience on flat water or not, you may want to try your paddleboard in some surf. Summer is a great time for beginners to try some paddleboard surfing—the weather’s great and the water temps are perfect, so you can simply suit up and get out on the water.
If you’re a beginner wanting to use your surf paddleboard in some waves, this post has all you need to get started. We offer tips for beginners so you can hit the surf—both ocean and river—with confidence.
Tips for Beginner SUP Surfing
Surfing on your paddleboard, whether in a river or ocean, can add a new dimension to your paddleboarding excitement. So if you’re new to trying out waves big or small, use these tips to get started successfully:
- Choose the right paddleboard. If you don’t have the right paddleboard, you won’t have a great experience when you try out surfing. You need a board shaped specifically for the type of surfing you want to do. So check out the wide collection of surf paddleboards by Hydrus and find one that fits the type of surf you’ll encounter. Hydrus understands specific conditions require boards with different shaping, and their quality collection offers a board for a wide range of conditions to give you the best success on the water.
- Find a calm and safe location. Before you venture out, scout a spot that has calm waters, no strong currents, and minimal waves so you can have plenty of time to try a wave but recover and adjust before the next one.
- Start in a kneeling position. We get it, you may already have the hang of getting up on your board, but dealing with waves is a new sensation. So begin by kneeling on the paddleboard with your hands positioned shoulder-width apart on the sides of the board. Then start to paddle while maintaining a kneeling position. That way you get a feel for the water before trying to stand.
- Transition to a standing position. Once you feel comfortable and stable on your knees, you can transition to a standing position just like when you first learned to use a paddleboard. Just be sure you don’t transition in the midst of a wave.
- Practice paddling in a standing position. Just like when you were kneeling, you want to get a feel for the waves while standing. So paddle using the same technique you practiced while kneeling.
- Learn to steer. To properly shred waves, you need to learn to turn, which simply means paddling more on one side than the other. Experiment with different strokes and practice turning smoothly.
Just like paddling on flat water, you will get the hang of surfing with practice and experience. Surfing is a different experience, but sticking with it will not only build your skills but also give you a great experience on the water.
What Type of Water Should I SUP Surf On?
If you’re just starting to surf with your paddleboard, start in conditions that match your skill level. Consider these factors when choosing the type of water to surf in:
- Calm or small waves: Look for a location with calm or small waves. This allows you to focus on developing your balance and paddling skills without the added challenge of larger waves.
- Gentle and consistent breaks: Find a spot with waves that don’t constantly come crashing in. Steep or powerful breaks can be more challenging for beginners, so it's best to start with waves that are easy to catch and ride.
- River locations: While surfing brings up thoughts of ocean waves, you can often find smaller, more manageable waves on a river that work well for beginners but be sure to scout the location first. Don’t assume that all rivers have calm, small waves as some rivers offer rougher conditions than others.
- Sandy or soft bottom: Choose a location with a sandy or soft bottom. If you fall off the paddleboard, it's safer to land in soft water rather than on rocks or a hard surface.
- Minimal hazards: Look for areas with minimal hazards such as rocks, reefs, or strong currents. These can pose risks to beginners and may cause accidents or difficulty in handling the paddleboard.
- Less crowded areas: Avoid crowded surf spots, especially when you're starting out. Having fewer people around allows you to focus on your own progress and reduces the chances of collisions or interfering with other surfers.
- Sheltered areas: Consider surfing in sheltered areas such as bays or coves. These locations can provide more protection from wind and waves, creating a more forgiving environment for beginners. You’ll still catch waves, but you may avoid larger ones with powerful breaks.
Before heading out, assess your own skill level and check the weather and water conditions. If you're unsure about the conditions or your abilities, ask other paddleboard enthusiasts in the area or join a group or paddleboarding lesson to gain confidence and knowledge.
Catching a Wave on Your Paddleboard
Catching a wave on your paddleboard for surfing requires good timing and technique. Follow these steps to increase your chances of successfully catching a wave:
- Spot the waves. Look for incoming waves and observe their size and direction. Position yourself in the lineup where the waves are breaking, usually slightly outside or to the side of where the waves are starting to form.
- Paddle into the wave. As you spot a suitable wave approaching, start paddling towards it. Build up enough speed to match the speed of the wave before it reaches you. Use strong, even strokes with your paddle to generate forward momentum.
- Position yourself correctly. As the wave approaches, position yourself on the front half of the paddleboard to ensure it catches the wave's energy. Your weight should be slightly forward to prevent the nose from diving into the water.
- Use your paddle for stability. Hold your paddle firmly and use it as a stabilizing tool. You can dig the paddle into the water on the side opposite to the wave to help maintain balance and control. Avoid paddling while riding the wave unless necessary for steering or maintaining speed.
- Trim and adjust. Once you're riding the wave, adjust your weight and foot positioning to maintain stability and control. If you feel the nose of the board digging into the water, shift your weight slightly back. If the board starts to slide down the wave, shift your weight forward.
- Ride the wave. Enjoy the experience of riding the wave on your paddleboard. Keep your weight centered and make small adjustments with your body and paddle as needed to maintain balance and ride the wave as long as possible.
Catching waves on a paddleboard is well worth the practice. Just like you can find a wide variety of water conditions to paddle on, each wave you encounter can be different, too, which keeps your experience engaging and exciting.
So get started right with your new surf experience by checking out the range of surf paddleboards Hydrus has to offer. Then you can find the perfect paddleboard for the waves you’ll encounter.