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HOME arrow FEATURES arrow Quick Tips for Keeping Your Stand Up Paddleboard Moving Straight Ahead
Quick Tips for Keeping Your Stand Up Paddleboard Moving Straight Ahead PDF Print E-mail
By: Stand Up Paddle Surfing Magazine   
Sunday, 30 November 2008
    “Do all stand up paddle surfboards drift like this? It looks like everyone else is paddling straight with no problem. Am I doing something wrong?” These are thoughts that probably cross the mind of every stand up paddler who is venturing out on the water for the first time. Let’s talk about why the board your board is drifting and what you can do to keep it moving where you want it to. After all, once you can control the direction of your board, you’ll be able to catch waves with confidence and you’ll no longer find yourself zigzagging across the lake. In this article we’ll give you some basic suggestions for keeping your board on course.


    First off, nothing will help you more than getting some good in-person instruction from someone who is a proficient paddler and is able to watch your stroke and help you make the necessary adjustments for proper form. If your stand up paddle stroke is correct and consistent from the beginning, you won’t have to break bad habits in the future and your muscle memory for a strong stroke will develop right from the start. After than, simply pay your dues with water time and practice until you can master the direction of your board. Meanwhile here are a few things you can do with your stroke to keep your board moving straight.



     A larger fin will always be the easiest and quickest way to keep the board from tracking. The more fin there is in the water, the straighter your board will travel in flat water and surf. For maximum stability and direction, look for a fin that will sit deep in the water once installed. There are specific fins such as the Seeker by Rainbow Fin Co. that are specifically designed for stand up paddling and may be a good choice.

     Board shape will also have a great effect on how effectively your board travels in a straight line. A flat water or open ocean racing board will often have an extremely pulled in nose and tail that makes for fast straight cuts through the water but will also make wave riding near impossible.

    After equipment, comes your own personal paddling technique. First off, it’s important to be aware that the natural tendency you probably will have when executing your stroke is to follow the curvature of your board as you see it in front of you. Since the nose of your board is curved, following the silhouette of your board will sweep you to one side or the other. A paddle on the left will quickly send you to the right. To avoid this, begin your stroke with the paddle away from the nose of your board and bring the stroke back as straight and even as possible. This will channel your energy in to forward motion rather than side to side.

     Another technique that works for some is to slightly tilt the rail of your board on the side you are paddling. For example, if you are paddling on your right side, then put a little extra pressure on your right foot, thus dipping the right side of your board ever so slightly in the water. This helps many new paddlers to maintain a straighter course.

     Finally, just keep paddling. Try and prevent your paddle from banging the rails of your board focus on proper technique until a proper and efficient stroke becomes second nature to you. Although a change in equipment and implementing these strategies will help, there’s no silver bullet and everyone needs to put in enough water time to refine their stroke and train their bodies to paddle straight.

feed3 Comments
paddle board biginner
February 08, 2012

what is the best way to turn without using the back paddle - are there any exercises i can do to increase my ballance

johnny wad
September 17, 2009

what about the J stroke? suuposedly it is supposed to keep you straight buit I have yet to master it.

Rob Casey
June 09, 2009

For the technique of dipping the rail, I've found that after the a stroke, if I release the rail and let it glide, there's less drag and more forward momentum. So dip the rail, stroke, then release.

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