Kayaking Technique Forum

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Re: Ways to stop surfing sideways ?

Hi Steve,

It sounds like you were paddling close to the rocks and the wave caught you broadside. In this scenario there is little you can do to stop the side surf. If the wave seemed to appear out of nowhere, it means there there are submerged rocks so capsizing is not a great option. Secondarily, capsizing to avoid the force of a wave is generaly only effective if you are heading bow first into the wave.

Nigel Foster describes, in his book on surfing, how to move fore or aft along a wave during a side surf. Basicly as you move your supporting brace towards the bow, the boat will tend to move astern. As you move your brace astern the boat will move forward. These steering techniques might help you avoid a rock or two but they do not stop the side surf however.

As Lee said, for most situations side surfing is the lesser of two evils. There are some things you can do to paddle out of a side surf, but they involve climbing over the wave rather than turning the boat. If you reduce the edging towards the wave (be careful not to catch an edge shoreside) and change your brace to a vertical skull you can actually climb over the wave most quickly.

I do not recommend tring to turn the boat with a sweep stroke. In my experience that will only capsize you and make things worse. I'm a big fan of rolling under breaking waves as you paddle out through the surf zone. But rolling near submerged rocks during a side surf is too crazy even for me.

Situations like you've described are actually great practice. Avoid the capsize at all costs though. Have fun, play safe!