Self-Coaching Surf Kayak Skills

A new blog came out a while ago that I discovered via Facebook called This blog has a lot of great content created by members of the England National Surf Team, that frankly I wish I’d thought of creating first.

The best concept piece I’ve seen on their site is in regard to Surf Kayaking Self Coaching Techniques. I think the concept diagram does a pretty thorough job of explaining the idea.

Surf Kayaking Self Coaching Concept Diagram

These diagrammed concepts should really apply to all aspects of athletics, but are specifically applicable to kayak surfing.

When I was in Santa Cruz with Sean Morely last spring, one piece of advice he gave was to go out and practice one maneuver over and over. Resisting the temptation to free surf is difficult when you are depending on storms to get waves rather than a predictable swell pattern.

But, taking Sean’s advice to heart, I’ve begun working on just getting totally edged over for bottom turns and cutbacks. With the quick closeout waves we have that’s all we have time for. So this is my technical problem I am approaching.

The physical I am always working on to feel stronger once I break out through surf and chop taking beatdowns a plenty on the way out. Also how to edge the boat  kayak flat along the clean plane of the wave face with the paddle on the downwave side has been a challenge for me ever since I’ve understood the concept of why to do it.

I am using a few cheats to handle this that are tactical in nature, such as always using a breakwall for windbreak, pulling up with my knees at the last possible moment to make sure the kayak nose clears the wave crest, (on small waves), I try to use the return current or rip current right next to the pier, and I pause where I see big sets coming in to time my way out. But I also paddle like hell when I see an opening to make it easy. The other tactical approach is in where I position myself to get good bottom turns and something to cut back off of. So I have been trying to catch waves as they clean up along the inside of the pier, cut a super solid bottom turn and then once the wave closes out to the right, do a cutback and then head straight for the pier, and once that looks dodgy either bottom turn again or if it closes out, hit the foam off the top and go back the other way. This has been really great at showing me how much speed I have, how to keep it, how much I can shed and still surf, etc.

Mental for me is always dealing with the high wind, the sheer whackiness of the storm waves on breaking out. So I try to think about moving my surf kayak out in phases, inner break, not so bad, middle break, usually tougher, and then finally the outer break where if I time it right, I am out the back side waiting to catch a ride no problem. And if I time it wrong I am sucked over the falls by a 12 foot wave and pushed in like driftwood. So the trick is to think of it in stages, and be aware of what that next phase is doing even while staying on top of the current phase.

Good stuff, and check out their paddle out article as well, lots of sphincter tightening shots like this one.

Surf Kayak breaking out through the surf, paddle out technique