A longboard isn’t called a log for nothing. Even maneuvering a heavily glassed 9’0 noserider makes a petite little lady like myself feel like I’m coasting on a 300 year old redwood tree. For how fun they are to ride, they sure can be challenging in terms of getting around, especially getting around waves bigger than 4-5 feet. Save yourself the frustration of getting caught on the inside with a few simple paddling techniques…
Before paddling out on a longboard, assess the lineup and spot the path of least resistance. If there is a jetty or pier, there is usually a rip current going out to sea that will make for smooth sailing on the log (Just make sure not to get too close to the pylons or rocks). If you’re surfing a beach break, there is a good chance there is no easy paddle out zone, so you’re going to have to go for it.
When paddling through the impact zone, it’s usually best to paddle on your stomach (rather than knee paddling). As you approach the whitewash of an oncoming wave, paddle faster to give you a boost of energy to get through the wave. You have two options here: 1) popping over the wave or 2) turtle rolling under the wave.
Scenario: You’re paddling fast towards the white water and right before it reaches you…
1) …pop over it. To do this, sit up and scoot back on your board so your nose is pointing up in the air. As the whitewater hits the bottom of your board, hold onto the rails and push all your weight forward, forcing it to come down on top of the white water. The wave will go under you. Continue paddling fast so the wave doesn’t drag you back. The pop over method is best for smaller waves.
2) … turtle roll. To do this, grab your rails, slide off the board, and flip it so it’s floating upside down on the surface of the water and you’re underneath it. Hold on really tight to your rails and keep your body parallel to the board and ocean surface. You’ll know the wave has gone over you once the turbulence of the whitewater stops. At this point, flip the board upright and hop back on to continue you’re paddle out. The turtle roll method is best for larger waves.
No matter what, when on a longboard the waves will push you back towards shore, but don’t get discouraged because once you’re back on a smooth ocean surface, the board will fly and you’ll make up lost water.
Knee paddling is a fast way to paddle across smoother waters. I like to knee paddle from one peak to another, plus being higher out of the water is a good way to scope for sets. Another big perk is that it’s an awesome full body workout that really targets the core. Get loggin!