Cross forward on a SUP

-- Last Updated: Aug-12-16 7:57 AM EST --

I got to do some SUPing yesterday with my local club. The club rented 20 boards from a local outfitter, and opened it up for members to come to paddle. The outfitter had a group of instructors to get people started, and they encouraged people to try different boards. I got to try a touring board, a surf board (fell off that a few times) and a general-purpose board – lots of fun.

I immediately fell into my canoe paddling strokes with forward and cross forward strokes, and was told by several instructors to switch sides rather than doing cross forward strokes. The cross forward seemed to work well for me, so I’m wondering why you don’t do cross forward strokes on a SUP. Just for kicks, I looked up some whitewater SUPing videos, and those guys seem to switch sides as well. Any thoughts?

Some pictures from last night:

Never been on a SUP board
But I have watched plenty. Mark Singleton is certainly one of the best whitewater SUPers in the Southeast and you can see from this video of Mark running the gates on the Nantahala, he uses cross-forwards all the time:

Probably only time you will see it on SU
Standing on a SUP and taking small cross forward strokes is not what SUP is about. It’s awkward and inefficient for developing speed on the board. OK for tight turning on moving water as in the video. You mostly see it from white water paddlers who come from canoeing. With SUP paddlers like Corran Addison who do big water river SUPing you only see it as a last ditch rescue move to try and salvage a line. In moving water that has some power it tends to throw you off balance.

Works Fine, but
Paddler needs a solid X Fwd to begin with. The shaft length and weight of the SUP paddle which take time to switch, generally suggest pitching the blade to develop onside drawing force if a single stroke correction is needed.

In a canoe, I always suggest taking two or three cross forwards to spread the time lost switching across several strokes. Once committed to several X forwards on an SUP Board, maybe better to have switched sides and top hands too.

A helmet seems like a wise addition
to gear when SUPing around rocks.

No Worries! You’re Lightyears Ahead
They just never saw an experienced canoeist before or they didn’t want you to confuse the other paddlers with your standard canoe strokes. The instructors are all young and never heard of paddling only on one side. When I paddled SUP for the first time, I did exactly as you did and still do. I change sides when the wind shifts or to balance symmetries.

I never understood one sided paddling
in a solo boat where both sides are easy to reach.

I have back and shoulder issues and prefer to balance things out by switching sides frequently.

Most whitewater paddlers use cross-strokes to avoid switching grip because there often simply is no time to do so. Even if there is time to swap grip and shaft hands, doing so risks bobbling the paddle. If that happens, the current will often sweep it away.

Having said that, I have paddled with or seen videos of some outstanding whitewater paddlers who did sometimes swap on-sides. Some whitewater moves are easier to execute paddling on the left and some on the right. Those who do switch usually do so in an eddy or a straightforward wave train where the risk of losing the paddle is not very great.

Slalom C1 paddlers
I’ve never paddled a SUP but have noticed some of the slalom C1 paddlers switch hands regularly to have the best side although they still include cross bow strokes. I’ve even seen them switch halfway down a large drop.

SUP on the ocean

– Last Updated: Aug-13-16 8:31 AM EST –

What I would really like to do is this:

This guy paddled out into the ocean and around the point with no problem. I was in my canoe and wimped out because I can't get back in the boat alone.

I've seen a few whitewater SUPers, but it seems kind of like a canoe on the ocean - you can do it, but maybe not the best boat for the job.

Rarely switch sides…

– Last Updated: Aug-13-16 8:32 AM EST –

I'm a lefty, and it has gotten to the point that I am not a good paddler on my right side. I'll do forward strokes on the right "sit and switch" style, but other than that I paddle on the left with cross strokes. The only time I have ever felt the need to switch sides is side surfing so I can have the paddle on the downstream side.

So I’m and advances SUPer…
and didn’t even know it :wink:

Were about 100 of us out this am …
in Lajolla. I’ve become addicted. Just throw the thing in my car and go. Paddle to a break that’s uncrowded, try to surf, or just paddle along the coast watching the fish and sea life.

That’s “Flat Water” Conditions
By Hawaii standards. So either get a SUP or a rudderless Tahitian style solo outrigger (V-1). Remember, whatever you do sitting down, you can also do standing up too…

To the current crop of SUP enthusiasts, your paddling style will look odd, but veteran SUP paddlers are always improving their stroke and employing new techniques, and sooner or later will eventually adopt some of your technique. Be patient, they will follow, as more canoeist paddle SUPs? Maybe a “freelance” canoeist could demonstrate on a SUP?