Whilst teaching techniques across watersports have evolved massively there’s still a tricky learning curve for anyone looking to learn how to surf in conventional mode. Surfing has mass appeal, perhaps because of its associated ‘cool’ lifestyle which stand up paddle boarding doesn’t quite own (yet). Boardshorts, bikinis, beaches and barrels coupled with blaring sunshine – you know the deal. So many buy into this, even if the UK’s surf scene is anything but Californian.
For those choosing to actually learn how to surf there are certainly applicable ‘tools’ available. Boards suitable for beginners with an experienced coach at a venue with reliable swell will put anyone wanting to get to grips in good stead. The fact is, however, Atlantic juice can be quite powerful for the uninitiated (even broken white water) and a decent learner surf board is still pretty low volume and relative unstable.
Enter stand up paddle boards, inflatable or hard – it doesn’t really matter which. Due to their oversize nature and additional volume SUPs can be good platforms for learning to surf without a paddle. Their dimensions mean you only need a mere dribble of chop to get it propelling forwards. As such, not only are SUPs way easier to get the feeling of riding waves your choice venue suddenly opens up. What mightn’t even be classed as a surfing location is suddenly on the agenda with a stand up paddle board. And as great as this is for adults it’s also bang on for kids.
One of the hardest things when learning to surf is the pop up, or getting to your feet. A surfboard needs momentum and because of its smaller dimensions requires more power to move forwards. In contrast stand up paddle boards jet off at merest sniff of a wave and reach top speed quicker. This instantly gives stability. Add to the mix a SUP‘s wider deck and more voluminous shape and you suddenly have a platform that allows the practising of those previously tricky pop ups more often. Repeating, repeating and repeating again(with the odd rinsing) is the only way to dial in any kind of technique.
We appreciate out test subject in the associated pics isn’t standing. But he’s pretty little (young) and happy to just have fun gliding along on his belly. The point being, however, that at barely three years old our little chap is getting used to swell shoving him along at speed. Intuitively he’s trimming the board to avoid nose dives (or pearling as the surfing term describes it) and is ready to get to his feet. We actually have it on good authority that blondy can stand up with a little help from dad perched on the board’s tail.
The more often the above is practised the more muscle memory can lock in so when the rider in question transfers to a surfboard, rather than SUP, popping up becomes more doable. Learning to surf on a stand up paddle board therefore helps lay foundational skills much quicker in a lot of cases than learning to surf on a Swelly (as beginner surfboards are often referred to). When the time is right transferring these skills should be much easier. Likewise, if he/she never goes near an actual surfboard then we’re pretty there’ll be no loss of fun. After all, the term ‘surfing’ describes the act of riding a wave and however you decide to do it’s all good in our book.