So SUPping is getting off the ground. To go about it correctly, PL cornered SUP-convert and 2003 US National Freestyle Kayak Champion and ACA-certified instructor Jimmy Blakeney to offer his tips, from beginner to advanced. A SUP rep and athlete in New England for Jimmy Lewis Boards, Blakeney has developed a full SUP curriculum based on his kayak and surfing experience, and launched his new SUP school, New England Paddlesurf, this summer to get people stroking in the right direction…
Jimmy Blakeney’s Top Ten Tips for Good SUP technique in flatwater, whitewater and ocean waves:
1) Keep your head centered over the board, knees bent and your back straight to stay balanced. Don’t lock your knees or hunch forward at the waist, it’s bad style and makes you fall over too.
2) Put the full blade of the paddle in the water before you pull, and when you do so be smooth, don’t try to yank the blade through the water. Never ‘slap’ the water with your blade, insert the blade in the water like sheathing a knife.
3) Use your feet and toes: Assuming you’re barefoot (not advised for whitewater), spread out your toes and grip the board with your full foot to gain more stability; this also develops your foot and lower leg muscles and balance.
4) Look up and where you want to go, not down at your board, this will help a lot with balance and you won’t run into stuff.
5) Torso Rotation: Just like in a kayak, you want to engage your core muscles when paddling. Rotate your shoulders and hips to engage these muscles instead of relying on your smaller arm muscles.
6) Active Paddle: Keep your paddle in the water and keep taking strokes even if you’re not trying to “go” anywhere fast. You’re much more stable when you have some board speed than when you’re stalled out, and the paddle also provides a ‘tripod’ effect to help keep you stable. This is super important when in ocean swell and in whitewater.
7) When running whitewater and surfing, use a staggered “hybrid” stance (front foot with toes pointed straight forward while placing your back foot a few feet behind and to the side of the front foot with toes pointed to edge of board). This gives you more stability and you’re able to lower your center of gravity by crouching down while keeping your back relatively straight.
8) Don’t be afraid to move your feet around on the board. Get comfortable with multiple stances and be ready to move your feet to adjust to the situation.
9) When catching a wave, keep your weight forward to avoid having the board swept out from under your feet by the wave.
10) Once surfing, move towards the tail of the board to turn, and walk back up towards the nose if you feel like you’re falling off the back of the wave. Practice cross-stepping and truly walk on the board, don’t “shuffle”, that’s lame.