How To Paddle A SUP Straight

by Kyle
How To Paddle A SUP Straight

Whether you are a beginner or an expert the most important thing to know how to do in paddle boarding is, how to paddle a SUP straight.

That is why our team at Paddle Board Nation put together this article will show you ways to learn how to paddle board straight.

Steps To Paddle A SUP Straight

In a nutshell, you can paddle a SUP straight by following four steps:

  • Know Your Board
  • Correct Your Stance 
  • Setup The Fins
  • Paddle Stroke Techniques

Know Your SUP

Know Your SUP

SUPs come in all shapes and sizes. The nose shape, length, width, and rocker determine how well a board will track. The procedure is,

  • A board with a pointed nose will easily track straight. The sharp front will cut the water like a hot knife through butter.
  • In contrast, a more rounded nose board will be harder to paddle in a line. A round nose board can hardly cut through the water efficiently.
  • The third option is the hybrid nose board. It sports decent stability and cuts the water at a respectable pace. 
  • Moving on from the nose, a longer board will have an easier time going straight. It’s hard to turn a 14’-17′ touring or racing board.
  • On the other hand, you will have to give extra effort to keep a shorter board on course. SUPs below 10′ length are easy to turn.
  • Unlike the board length, a shorter width will make the SUP go straight. It’s easy to change paddling sides when the board is narrow.
  • It is a bit challenging to paddle straight with a wider board. The extra width will also make changing sides hard while paddling.
  • A high nose rocker board is tougher to keep in line. Especially when you are on an iSUP, the high rocker will catch the wind and take you off course.
  • Contrary to the high nose rocker, a board with a low nose rocker will easily track straight. A lowered rocker is mainly submerged and catches little wind.

If you are on a race board or a touring board, it will be elementary to keep a straight course. A shorter all-arounder may pose a bit of a difficulty when you try to keep it on course.

As long as you know what you are working with, you can find the optimal way to paddle your SUP straight.

Have The Correct SUP Stance 

Have The Correct SUP Stance

When paddleboarding, balance is key. You will need to have a solid stance before even trying to paddle your SUP straight. So here are our tips for improving your SUP balance:

  • Place your feet parallel to the central carry handle. Putting them shoulder-width apart will help you balance better.
  • Slightly angling your feet outward will help you control your weight distribution.
  • Slightly bent your knees. This method will aid you in engaging your core flexibly.
  • Raise your head and look towards your tracking course. With this, you will have a better field of vision.
  • Keep a straight back. After all, you wouldn’t want to have neck or back pain. 

Once you have mastered your stance and can balance well on your board, you are halfway there to paddleboarding smoothly in a line.

Setup Your SUP Fins

Setup Your SUP Fins

Fin setup and SUP performance are closely intertwined. The length of the fins and where you place them will majorly affect your paddling route. For instance,

  • Placing the center fin near your board’s nose will make it increasingly challenging to keep the board straight.
  • On the flip side, placing the central fin near the tail end of your board will aid you in following a straight line.
  • A longer-length fin will track better in water and keep the board straight. However, it will take some effort to make quick turns.
  • In contrast, a shorter-length fin won’t be able to help you much for paddling straight. Nevertheless, it will become easier to maneuver through river bends.

Side fins or side bites are good for making turns. Most of the time, they come built-in with the board. However, if possible, you want to detach them for a stable straight pathing of your board.

Choose your fin setup depending on the environment. Longer fins are better for paddling straight, but they are also susceptible to damage in shallow waters.

Use The Correct SUP Paddle Stroke Technique

Use The Correct SUP Paddle Stroke Technique

Besides the basics of paddling, some techniques will help you paddle your board straighter. We will lay out these techniques for you,

  • Grip your paddle vertical to the water. In this way, you will have better control over your paddle stroke.
  • Put one hand on top of the T-handle of your paddle. Place the other hand on the paddle shaft at a comfortable angle to pull it in a straight line.
  • Reach out towards the board’s nose with your paddle. Only extend as far as your balance allows.
  • Catch as much water as possible with the blade. More water will give you a better forward momentum.
  • Pull the paddle back in a straight line parallel to your thighs. Take care not to hit the curved side of your board.
  • Exit the blade without any twists. Any variation to this will push your board to the sides.
  • If you are a beginner, start with paddling from your dominant hand side. Alternate sides after a few paddle strokes to form muscle memory.
  • When you have some experience, you can start using C-strokes. The starting inward curve and the finishing outward curve will keep you on track.
  • If you are an expert, cross-nose draws and J-strokes will work better for you when paddling straight.

Do note that paddling on both sides may take out some of your forward momenta, but it is the easiest way to go straight.

The C-stroke, cross nose draws, and J-stroke may take some time. But, once you have mastered the paddle stroke techniques, keeping your SUP straight will become a breeze!

Try Paddling Your SUP Straight!

Paddleboarding has become an art form. If you want to paint a better picture, it is fundamental that you learn to paddle your board straight.

Knowing your board, proper paddling stance, fin set up, and paddle stroke techniques will go a long way to turning you into a paddleboarding pro. Furthermore, the solid basics and a clear understanding of paddling straight will help you to master any form of paddlesports.

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