When you’re first learning to ride a stand up paddle board, one of the biggest challenges is not a wave but keeping your board going in a straight line. Having to switch the side a person paddles on can be a pain but it doesn’t have to be that way. For most, switching the side you paddle is almost second nature but it can be delayed without the proper technique.
Keeping Your Paddle Vertical and Angle Your Shaft
If you’re on flat water and there’s no wind, keep your paddle next to the board and make sure it runs parallel with the rail with it ending next to your board near your feet. Have the paddle or blade perpendicular to your board with no angle. Done right and you will be able to paddle on the same side for a lot longer.
Try To Keep Your Paddle Straight
When out on the water, you can probably count more time than any how the winds or currents push you in a certain direction. If you want to make your board head left, then paddle on the right while dropping your paddle to at least a 45-degree angle over the board. You can adjust the angle by feel as you continue along, this move is called a sweep stroke. This particular technique can be a tremendous help with tracking and dealing with any side wind.
Using Different Strokes While Paddling
Strong winds can affect the direction you’re paddling in and you may need to use a little more muscle. You could find yourself paddling almost endlessly on one side or kneeling more. You can use the draw stroke by starting or ending your stroke further from the rail and pulling the board toward the blade. You can also push away using the pry stroke, if you have wind coming from the right or you are paddling on the right. Start your stroke approximately a foot off the rail and pull the paddle towards your board. Next, pull the blade down the board like you would do normally to end the stroke near where your feet are positioned.
Remember to Take a Breath and Relax!
If you’re a beginner, getting started as a SUP paddler can be frustrating and physically exhausting. But if you keep paddling and practicing different strokes or techniques, it will get better and you will notice the difference!