How to Steer a Surf Kayak

How to Steer a Surf Kayak
When kayak surfing you always want to start on small surf, gain momentum and then work your way up to big surf. The process is pretty challenging, but you can look for spilling waves in high water conditions such as high tide, high sand bar and deep bottom. (A spilling wave crumbles at the top.) When surf kayaking, you must pay attention to the size and location of the waves and position your kayak in relation to it in order to steer the kayak in the direction you want to go.


Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • Paddle
Step 1
Enter your kayak by stepping in the center of the boat with both your feet side-by-side.
Step 2
Paddle out into the water.
Step 3
Gain momentum. When the stern of your boat is lifted by the first wave, the bow will remain relatively still. Stillness occurs because the water near the front of the kayak isn't moving, unlike the water located at the stern of your boat, which is. Gain momentum by tilting the kayak into the wave at the point when the boat turns and is positioned parallel with the wave. Sit upright and lean forward to edge the boat from the wave and prevent a flip.
Step 4
Tilt the boat by pushing your weight onto one butt cheek. Keep your elbows tucked to your sides and do not extend beyond the width of your shoulders. Allow the wave to break under your kayak as you continue to build momentum.
Step 5
Paddle the kayak by moving the whole blade of the paddle in and out of the water on the left and right side of your kayak. Keep the paddle close to the side of the kayak to move straight. Allow the next wave to pitch up behind you as you gain speed. Remove your paddle from the water and let gravity pull you down the wave. Steering is not necessary at this point because your boat will shoot out in front of the wave.
Step 6
Increase your speed and prepare to surf higher waves. Turn your kayak by using a low brace. If you see a wave that is breaking, turn your kayak into it so the wave breaks behind you. A high brace is also possible. Lift your knee to help edge your kayak away from a breaking wave. Use this technique to help climb up the face of a wave and exit just before it breaks.
Step 7
Gather speed by steering your kayak over an oncoming wave that is just starting to pitch up. Maintain the same speed as the wave. If you reach a surfing hole, start to rudder steer. Point the paddle straight to the back of the boat, and pull the water towards the stern. Continue until you steer the kayak away from the surfing hole.
Step 8
Cross the ocean by keeping the kayak slightly turned. Sweep the paddle wide, away from the side of the kayak. For a quick and unexpected turn, use reverse strokes.

Tips & Warnings

Become familiar with the water and the intensity and height of the waves before venturing out too far.
When surfing, always go into a low brace position for a small wave and a high brace position for a large one.
Practice how to brace yourself when your kayak is turned sideways.
Always keep your hands loose on the paddle for easy maneuverability.
Always actively steer your kayak onto the glassy part of the wave.
Use a short paddle with small blades to minimize stress on their body.
A16-foot kayak that surfs the length of ten boats will have covered 160 feet of water, so make sure your surfing path is relatively clear.

Article Written By Charlie Gaston

Charlie Gaston has written numerous instructional articles on topics ranging from business to communications and estate planning. Gaston holds a bachelor's degree in international business and a master's degree in communications. She is fluent in Spanish and has extensive travel experience.

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