The SUP PaddleBoard Turn

How to turn your paddleboard.

Screen Shot 2014-02-17 at 1.46.28 PMEvery paddleboarder knows that there is far more to the SUP experience than simply moving in a straight line. Most of the discussions we have had so far about SUP paddling have centered on how to move forward. Sure, we have discussed some of our favorite boards during those discussions, including some of our favorite paddleboards, the Boardworks SUP 11’6” and the Naish Javelin MC 14’ Race SUP. But even these paddleboards are nothing but well-constructed floatation devices without the human element powering them forward.

There are several things consider about paddling that we have yet to cover. For instance, the flat water you started out on may not be flat for long. Choppy water and windy conditions can wreak havoc on the inexperienced paddleboarder, making it difficult to maneuver and eventually wearing you down. You may simply be running on fumes and need to efficiently get the most out of every stroke.

Let’s start with some terminology. The scoop side to the blade is known as the power face, and for good reason. The other side, while making the SUPer appear to moving, you’ll be getting nowhere. The power face actually faces our body when pulling strokes. The back face of the paddle is the side of the paddle that does the pushing. This simply means that you don’t have to switch the paddle around to change direction.

You’ll need to practice this from the kneeling position, the most stable position on the board. Of course, you’ll need to drop that top hand to the shaft but maintain a loose grip on this type of stacked hand position. To move forward, nothing should change. You should still be able to power forward without throwing your balance off. In other words, your butt should still be tucked.

Screen Shot 2014-02-24 at 1.32.02 PMTo turn the board, also from the practicing kneeling position, simply drop that top hand further down the shaft of the paddle and arc your paddle as far from the board as possible, with the bottom arm remaining straight. You can use the power face to turn, moving from the front of the board to the back or in reverse, using the back face of the paddle, reaching back toward the rear of the board arcing forward.

Now here’s where it gets tricky. You can turn from the center of the board, where you are probably kneeling. But the turn will be incredibly slow. You will get a much quicker, sharper turn if you are closer to the back of the paddleboard. Try moving into a surf stance, or a fighting T stance, if you’ve ever done any martial arts. This has one foot forward and one squared further back, raising the front of the board slightly.

This will take some practice and I suggest you do this in shallow water first. The stroke should be smooth and relaxed, with a loose grip on the upper hand and your arm extended straight. This will also really work your core.

The more experience you get, the more adept you’ll get at the trickier turns with your surfer stance. When you do this turn, speed helps. But you had better mastered that change in stance.

Next up: A discussion about some of the cool paddles offered at Stand On Liquid.

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