Turning the chaos of a wild foam ball into a playground for a stand up paddler surfer is one of the ultimate displays of grace and control. Let’s talk about how to do a floater on a stand up paddle surfboard. First off, what is a floater anyway? Here’s a visual. You’re cruising down the line on a nice wave doing some cutbacks and turns only to realize that the section in front of you is about to close out. You can see the whitewater feathering on the lip of the wave.
You’ve got two choices, either straighten out and ride the foam in or make one more turn off the bottom, head your board straight at the foam ball, float it up to the top, turn it, and come back off it to complete the wave. It’s a slick way for a stand up paddler to finish off a wave, and sometimes you’ll come off the floater with enough speed to make it past the closed out section and carry on down the line. Here’s how it’s done…
First, it’s extremely important to set up the move with some solid speed off the bottom. Come up to the lip and drop back down the face with as much speed as possible.
Second, bend your knees, bury the rail and do a smooth bottom turn that transfers your momentum back up the face of the wave. Now, you’ll be headed straight toward that ball of whitewater that you used to run away from or straighten out before. This is where you’ll start playing mental games with your standup paddleboard. Your board will say things like, “What are you doing? You’re headed straight for disaster! Turn tail and run! Get out while you can.” You’re mind will say things like, “Yeah, baby! Here we go. I'm going to charge that thing.”
Thirdly, with your knees still bent, or loaded, as soon as you hit the whitewater, unload your legs with a driving push off the tail of the board. This gives you one final burst of speed and pops the nose of the board up at the same time.
Fourth, this is the key. Right after you give that final push and unload your legs, relax your legs and tuck them up under you letting the foam ball roll under your board as your legs absorb the impact of the foam ball. If your legs are stiff, it’ll just knock you off. Keep those legs loose and let the foam roll underneath you. For those of you who are skateboarders, or used to be skateboarders, the motion and transfer of power is almost identical to busting an ollie over a cone or grinding the rail on a ramp.
Fifth, as you rise to the top of the foam ball, shift your weight forward and even over the top of the board as you release the fins and slide the tail around to where the nose is pointing back down the face of the wave. This is a great place to plant your paddle and give a push for leverage and stability.
Sixth, reach your arms out in front of you and shift your weight toward your front foot to keep the fins released and prepare to drop back down the face. At this point you’ll be staring down at a big drop to the water below. This is where you have to keep your cool and go where you’ve never gone before.
Seventh, if you need it, give a low and deep stroke to push you over the front edge of the whitewater. As you drop down the front, quickly shift your weight almost completely to your back foot which should be planted on the tail. If you have a tail pad, feel for that pad with your foot. This will keep the nose of the board above the water and prevent digging the nose under the water and pearling when you reach the bottom. Keep your legs loose and controlled, and the drop down the face will be smooth and thrilling.
And finally, smile, you did it.
Whew, that was about 5 more steps than I thought. When you’re in the moment, it feels like about three motions: push, release and turn, shift and drop. Got comments, something to add? Tell us about your success and post them below. Peace.
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