Moving Around on Your Paddleboard

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Most of the time that you’re paddleboarding you’ll be standing in the middle of your board. You will be most stable when standing with your feet on either side of the handle. And for flatwater paddling you will also get the most speed and glide out of the paddleboard when standing in that spot.

But there are going to be times when you will benefit from moving around on your paddleboard.   You might stand off-center on your paddleboard because of changing wind conditions that are creating lots of chop and waves. Or the type of riding you are doing might necessitate that you change positions. Let’s look at some reasons why you would stand away from the center of your paddleboard when flatwater paddling.

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First off, when we talk about moving to another position on your paddleboard we don’t mean going to one specific spot for an exact amount of time. How far back or forward from center you move and how long you stay there before you return to the center position depends on the dimensions of your board, your size and skill level, as well as the conditions you are paddling in. So we’ll speak in general terms when looking at these things.

95% of the time you will be moving back towards the tail of your paddleboard. Moving back lifts the nose out of the water and sinks the tail down into the water. The net effect is a dramatic decrease in speed the farther back you step. It also makes the paddleboard less stable in flat water if you stop paddling. Your stability will increase the more you paddle (keep paddle in water = more stability), or if you move back to the center of the board. Practice moving around every chance you get as it’s really a good way to get control over your board and will set you up for learning a number of useful paddleboard skills.

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Doing pivot turns is the main reason why you would step way back on your board in flatwater. This gets your nose out of water sufficiently so that the board can spin around in one spot. Pivot turning is the quickest and most efficient way to slow your paddleboard down and point it in another direction. They are essential in racing (aka buoy turn), and for just changing direction on a dime. And you don’t have to step way back on the tail to get the paddleboard to pivot turn easily- although, you get “style points” if you do.

Paddleboarding in high winds and heavy chop is another reason to move around on your board. It may be coming from behind you, or towards, or from the side. If the winds are strong enough to create swells (bumps) then you’ll need to step back on your board to prevent the nose from going under the water as you go into the wave in front of you or down into the trough between the waves. This is typically a maneuver that is used extensively when downwind paddleboarding.

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If the wind and waves are coming at you from the side then it is sometimes a good idea to step back on your paddleboard. Stepping back raises the nose of your board and lets the waves pass underneath so that they don’t continue to slam into your paddleboard as much. This is also a good idea if you’re dealing with turbulent water coming from several different directions at once.

If the wind is coming straight at you and you are on a paddleboard with rocker in the nose (most paddleboard have an upturned nose) then you may want to try moving your feet forward. You don’t have to move too far forward but just enough to lower the nose so the waves are not slamming into the bottom of the board and slowing you down. This allows the board to PUNCH through the oncoming waves better and you’ll be able to retain some speed and stability.

Moving around on your paddleboard in different conditions and for pivot turning is a great way to build up your paddleboard skills. With a little practice and perseverance you can open up a whole new world of skills. And you’ll gain a better understanding of how the water interacts with your paddleboard in changing conditions.

 

 

 

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