How to start SUP surfing ?

You all know the stand up paddle (or SUP), this practice where you stand on your board and use a paddle to move forward.

Well, there are several disciplines in paddling and today we are going to talk about SUP surfing. This practice requires a first experience in paddle, but also adapted equipment.

We will see which equipment to use, the spots to be privileged for the beginners and how to take its first waves in SUP surfing.

What equipment to practice sup surfing ?

Which board for sup surfing ?

Let’s start with the base: the board. Today, on the stand up paddle market, you can find inflatable or rigid boards of all types and brands. Don’t panic, we are here to guide you.

The inflatable paddle

The inflatable paddle is known for its practicality, it takes up little space, is easy to transport and is ideal for walking on the water. It is also stable and therefore allows you to start in complete safety.

With the inflatable paddle you may be able to ride the swell and catch some small waves, or even some nice waves if you already know how to surf. However, an inflatable board will be less efficient in terms of gliding.

The inflatable SUP is therefore recommended for people who want to surf a few waves from time to time, between a few sunbathing sessions in summer or at the end of a ride. If you want to ride the wave and start maneuvering you will need a more powerful and rigid board.

The rigid paddle

Rigid boards strongly resemble classic surfboards, but in reality they are bulkier and therefore thicker to be able to support your weight at rest.

In general, they are quite short (less than 9’6) and wide to facilitate manoeuvres, unlike for example the SUP of race which are very long and thin. A 10′ to 11′ board will be ideal for paddling and going to the peak, but once in the wave the paddle may be much more complicated to guide.

As for the shape, the rocker is raised at the front to avoid diving into the water and the nose is thinner, especially on the rails at the back to avoid stalling in the wave.

The rigid SUP is therefore recommended for people who really want to start SUP surfing. With a little bit of bedding under your feet, you will also be able to enjoy the board on short rides.

Which paddle for sup surfing ?

The paddle is an element not to be neglected when choosing your equipment. In SUP surfing it is advised to reduce the length of the paddle (maximum +10cm of your height) to not be disturbed in manoeuvre.

It will be used as a support point so it must be flexible and light with a rather stiff blade. This way, it will be able to withstand the strokes of the oar without putting too much strain on your joints.

There are several types of paddles: adjustable or not adjustable in hard plastic, adjustable or not adjustable in carbon. An adjustable paddle will be ideal for combining SUP surfing and paddle touring but for some, the adjustment area can be giant in surfing. A non-adjustable carbon paddle is ideal because it is light, strong and practical. Be careful to choose the right size.

product image sealion paddle

Which leash for sup surfing ?

In supersurfing, the classic leash is preferred, identical to the one used in classic surfing. 

What are the best spots to start supersurfing ?

In SUP surfing as in many other sports, you have to go step by step and not rush. If you are a beginner, choose surf spots on a day when the waves are small (40 cm to 80 cm) and when there are few people in the water (safety for you and for the others).

Start in the foam by choosing a place where there are few people in the water, swimmers or surfers.

As you go along, you will be able to venture out to spots where there is a peak with rolling waves. To do this, you’ll have to pass the bar and we’ll explain how.

How to catch your first waves in supersurf ?

To catch a wave in SUP surfing, whether it is big or small, technique is necessary. You have to know how to manage your feet and your paddle. 

Start by taking parallel footed foams if you are a beginner and try to stabilize by going straight to get the feel of the glide. Once you are comfortable, choose which foot will be in front and which will be behind (note that the leash will be attached to the back foot). Try to make starts in the foam by rowing with your feet parallel to each other and switch your feet in front of each other in the surf position. This position will allow you to manage the weight on the board and its balance.

If you master this step, you will be able to pass the bar to go and get the waves that roll off the bottom. But before reaching the peak, you have to pass the bar, which can be complicated at first. Look for a small pass to sneak out to sea and paddle on your knees at the start if it’s easier for you.

When you feel ready to go, position your board on the side where the wave rolls and where you feel more comfortable. Paddle to the side of the wave to launch the board, letting the board rotate. As soon as you feel yourself slipping, stop rowing and switch feet, knees bent and anchored on your supports.

At first, try to follow the wave while paying attention to the others (because these are often very crowded spots) and if you want to maneuver, turn your shoulders to direct your board and use your paddle if you want. Remember to stay 

In SUP surfing, it is a question of anticipating to master your take-off (departure) then you will be able to take tubes like Bruno below!