× Tips and techniques for getting the most out of surfskiing.

Bracing in beam waves, windward or leeward side?

6 years 1 month ago #30099 by DrA5
I was in some heavy surf and spent some time with the plan of a point to point of moving up shore with good sized beam waves. Going out and then down was not an option for that day. I struggled a lot. I was told to brace, but when I asked which side, i did not get a clear answer.

So, as a result in trying to improve, I did do some searching on the net, and found that one person's recommendation was to alter the pacing of the paddle stroke to be able to have a blade in the water behind the crest of the wave on one side, then short paddle to get the blade behind the crest as it passes under the boat and goes to the leeward side. That appears to be as too much of a choppy paddle stroke to keep good stability.

Some said to really slow your rate of paddle strokes so you have the blade in the water longer for stability. I do know that a relaxed posture helps too and I will work on that.

Then, I was referred to a Chalupsky video on bracing, where he holds a light touch, but again, does not address how that would apply in real world scenarios, just the technique of bracing, but not when. He is sitting in a pool in the video. Doesn't transfer over to functional application.

I did read too on how in the trough of the wave, the boat will move towards the oncoming wave crest, but at the crest, the boat will then move with the crest, so you can best prepare for that lateral shift in center of gravity too in the boat to aid with stability. I know time in the boat will help, but if I can't get quality time in the heavier beam waves due to swimming every 40 meters, I don't see how I can improve rapidly enough to improve overall.

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6 years 1 month ago #30106 by Cryder
I'd suggest you get some coaching, and commit to a few sessions. Not knowing exactly what is going on based on what you describe, here are some general tips that might prove fruitful:

• General rule of thumb is be aware of the water, but don't fixate one particular wave. Tip: Instead try to get in sync with the rhythm of the water (it's constant, despite appearances).
• For most paddlers, the first thing to go when they feel threatened is the foot pressure on the footboard (and as a result that, your bum also loose contact with the back of the cockpit) that will diminish your connection to the ski and the water around you. Tip: When you feel threatened or unstable, keep the foot pressure on!
• The best brace is a good catch: Ski's are incredibly responsive, and will do whatever you tell them to; good bad or ugly. Tip: Develop a good vocabulary of skills that help your ski listen to you, chief amongst them is a powerful catch and stroke that will allow you to stay connected to the water and make balance adjustments dynamically.
• New paddlers tend to struggle with too many moving parts, moving in the wrong direction and at the wrong times. For example, your paddle has enough purchase to pull you in the water if used incorrectly. Tip: Limit the liability of your stroke by simplifying the movements you make. Focus turning your entire body into a lever that moves at one point, and one point only (your hips). A handy way to experiment with this is to pretend that you have no elbows, and that your hips and shoulders are locked together like two hinges on a door (they must rotate together, not one faster than the other).
• When you get into dynamic water of any sort, the tendency is to "juggle". This begs for mistakes to be made, because no one can juggle water. Tip: Slow the game down, and focus on the fundamentals. To build better balance and technique, try paddling in slow motion, in figure 8's in progressively more dynamic water. This will force you to not juggle, but instead focus on maintaining your connection to the surfski and the water around you.

There are other tips, but I suggest you get Dawid Mocke's book "Surfski with the Pros" to cover the good stuff. Also, Epic has a nice technique series that should be helpful for covering the basics. www.epickayaks.com/article/article/epic-technique-series

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6 years 1 month ago #30107 by Cryder
Oh, one other thing when re-reading your initial question; plant the paddle in the meat (*thickest part) of the water around you.

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6 years 1 month ago - 6 years 1 month ago #30110 by zachhandler
The bracing that Chalupsky demonstrates is a brace that is used to rest and gain stability when surfing down a wave. I can also be used on the flat, but you have to be gliding pretty fast to get much support out of it. It is technically a low brace because the back (convex) face of the paddle is used. It does force you to take a pause from the cadence of paddling. The pause could be one second of glide or it could be 20 seconds if you are surfing a big long wave.

The brace that is used when paddling in confused chop and beam waves is a usually a different brace. You could call it a slap brace. It can be done with either face of the paddle, but usually with the concave face if at the front of the stroke and with the convex if at the back. A slap brace does not require a pause in the stroke. it simply substitutes for a normal stroke without breaking rhythm.

Which way do you brace? With a slap brace go whichever way you need to at the instant you have to brace. The gliding brace that oscar shows is usually done on the side that you are turning toward; usually this means on the uphill side of the ski.

Current Skis: Epic v10 g3, NK 670 double, NK exrcize, Kai Wa’a Vega, Carbonology Feather, Think Jet, Knysna Sonic X
Former Skis: Epic V12 g2, Epic V12 g1, Epic v10 double, Nelo 550 g2, Fenn Elite S, Custom Kayaks Synergy
Last edit: 6 years 1 month ago by zachhandler.
The following user(s) said Thank You: DrA5

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6 years 1 month ago #30111 by LakeMan
This post reminds me to wear a leash when in the ocean.

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill

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  • Wombat661
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6 years 1 month ago #30112 by Wombat661
Replied by Wombat661 on topic Bracing in beam waves, windward or leeward side?
I was just starting out last year and had the same problem. Almost could not get back into the boat. Spent the summer practicing near the surf zone. As you said, as the wave approach, it will shift the boat windward, then as the wave pass, leeward. Good thing is the movement is very consistent from wave to wave so you can anticipate. I would practice using body to compensate for the expected shift. Sometimes I just sit the stationary with the wave coming towards the side of the boat. After a while, it becomes muscle memory, and you don’t even think about it. The wave can be moving the boat back and forth, but you are still perfectly vertical.
You can still compensate by shifting your body on a breaking wave if is just starting to break. If I need to brace, I always brace on the windward side. Reason is if you fall off, you don’t want to be run over by the boat. Also if the wave is starting to move your boat, and you don’t want to be pushed into the impact zone, bracing on the windward allow you to plant your paddle into the water to point the boat into the wave and get up and over it.

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6 years 1 month ago #30158 by Watto
Late into the thread but surprised one point hasn't been made, or did I miss it - what sort of boat are you paddling? Just checked your profile and 4 months ago you spoke of paddling a V8.

Some time back when I hadn't been paddling much jumped into the SR (Stellar 48cm) in choppy conditions off the beach and felt incredibly safe and protected. Occasions like those you spoke of big cross chop in my Stellar intermediate SEI very mindful of what was going on and having to work at it. Similar condition in the SR and big difference. Significantly fewer adjustments and lack of unease, just looking to get the work in and power ahead.

Point is the stability of the boat makes a big difference. If already in a stable boat then all in this thread clearly relevant. In my own experience of like conditions, when it is really thumping and all over the place or consistently awkward beaming then I'm sorry but zen has to take over. Yes paddle on other side of crest works for me and yes varied cadence where practicable, big core work involved too keeping the boat as a stable platform, however given the repetitive nature of strokes against cross chop and wind often off-kilter, you can't just think it out. More you do it in a reasonably stable boat where you're not just trying to survive, the more natural, easy intuitive your paddling likely to become.

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6 years 1 month ago #30168 by nell
If you're falling out every 40 m or so in rougher water, then the first order of business, like Watto wrote, is to get into a more stable ski - and preferably a ski that has more of a roundish hull cross section (as opposed to a flat bottom).

Also, be sure that you're footboard isn't too far away. If either one of your feet loses contact with the footboard while paddling, then your balance in dynamic water is really compromised.

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6 years 1 month ago #30173 by TaffyMick
Thanks Watto. Exact same experience between my SR and SEI. Got to work at it a little bit harder on the SEI.

Also... two sessions ago in very choppy and confused water I left my small Marathon rudder on the SEI. Talk about paddling technique, control and stability taking a dive! Went back in, changed over to my large surf rudder and lengthened my Jantex Gamma Rio med plus from 208 to my K1 paddling length of 214. Totally different...increased stability, paddle technique back on track and in control (30-45km side wind and 0.5m side chop).

After many years of paddling you never stop learning. In this instance rudder size and paddle length also made a big difference.

Stellar SEI, Fenn Bluefin S, Sladecraft Comet Long Rec & Vajda K1

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