I recently had someone ask me what’s the most effective way to paddle in chop when the waves are hitting you from the side or from a quartering angle. Here was my response. I thought this may help other people when they find themselves in more challenging conditions.

Paddling in the chop can be challenging for sure but its one of the fun aspects of SUPing and allows you to gain confidence as a paddler.

Some Thoughts:
Going directly into the wind or chop is fairly straight forward and just requires some hard work but the board stays fairly stable.
Going with the wind and chop is call downwinding and is one of the funner aspects of the sport. Especially in bigger conditions. It’s basically surfing and understanding how to catch waves and where to be on the board. A lot of footwork…..fun.

When the chop is on the side or on a back quarter it can be very challenging to stay upright. Certain boards handle the side chop better than others. Some tend to get tweaked pretty easy. Here are my suggestions for dealing with side chop.

Lets say the chop is coming from your starboard side(right):

1. BEND YOUR KNEES and lower your stance: by doing this you lower your center of gravity(good) and you get in more of an athletic, reflexive position and you are able to respond more effectively.
2. STAY LOOSE: Think of an airplane wing that has to deal with turbulence. If the wings were built stiff they would snap but an airplane wing is built to withstand huge amounts of turbulence and is responsive to that turbulence. Same as buildings and bridges that are built in earthquake zones, they are built to move and oscillate. STAY LOOSE. LOOSE HIPS FLOAT SHIPS. Have a beer, that usually takes the edge off!
3. If the side chop is on starboard side again open up the end of the board so the chop flows under. You will have to shift your weight to the left side so the right side of the board opens up and water flows under and doesn’t catch. Its like going into a current with a kayak. You always open up the side of the boat that the current is flowing from.
4, Keep your paddle in the water. Always keep paddling…..your way more stable.
5. Increase speed if you can. More stable.

If it really gets too challenging just go to your knees, instantly more stable. Yes you will get more wet but thats the trade off.

Paddle with a leash as you do not want to get separated from your board.

See you on the water.


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