I have to teach backwards surfing in 2 weeks. Advice?

I am going to an ACA L3/4 Coastal Kayaking ICW in 2 weeks and the “on the water” topic I was assigned to teach is backwards surfing. I have never surfed backwards before, and I don’t live close to waves so I’ll get to go practice in surf twice if I’m lucky. Any advice as to how I can learn this in two days worth of surfing? Tips on form?

4 mistakes I see (and have made) in backsurfing:
A wobbling paddle with neither blade in the water.
A blade in the water, but left downwave after broaching.
Elbows rising up above shoulders.
Failure to lean into the breaking wave.
I would suggest teaching to survive backsurfing vs teaching to perform like a rock star - a learn to walk before trying to run approach.
Lock your elbows against your torso and try significant rotation of your torso to put the blade in the water in front of you. Start out doing it in a brace style on the water more than a rudder style - flatter vs more vertical. This keeps your shoulders safe, puts a braking brace on the water, and allows you to steer and control your bow up on the wave some. It’s like the beginning of a forward stroke without an extended arm. You don’t ever have to move your elbows from your torso. You don’t need paddle extension when you’re moving with a wave. The support is there. Twist your torso instead of extending your arms. And quite simply, always have a blade on the water. If you’re not sure which one. just put one down, and switch sides if needed once you figure it out.
Loosen up by practicing switching blades on the water from this position. This will prevent a sort of paralysis that seems to happen that prevents people from switching their brace from one side to the other.
When you get to that point where you’re broaching, make sure you’re bracing into the wave, and edge into the wave. Look at the wave, not at your kayak or your paddle. Remember that in this sense, it’s simply like forward surfing. When the steep breaking water hits your side, have your paddle in it and lean into it.
Capsizes are part of the activity. Injuries shouldn’t be. Don’t put your arms in a compromised position in a hope to stay upright. Accept capsizes. You find yourself leaning downwave, don’t go for an extended-arm downwave brace. Tuck and capsize. Roll if you can. Next time, don’t let yourself get caught leaning down on a steep wave. There’s a learning curve, but you can continue to progress along the curve as long as you’re not injured.
You can’t see where you’re going when you’re looking at the wave, so you have to know before you get started that there is no one around to backsurf into. Those paddling out should also understand that the backsurfer is surfing blind. They could broach either direction and travel far and fast, so actively stay out and get out of their way.
Most importantly, stay loose and have fun!

Admit you don’t know how, and tell them to find someone else to teach it.

My instructor chose me to teach it because he knows its something I can’t currently do. His goal isn’t for me to teach it perfectly, its to learn something new and teach something I am not as familiar with. For each student, he chooses them to teach what they what they are weak at. It is very beneficial, I would gain and learn nothing if I don’t try.

Thank you very much for the advice! I will re read this before I go out surfing this weekend.

My experience with back surfing is it all depends on the boat / waveski and the wave shape you are dealing with. Some boats will backsurf if just given the chance, others are going to pearl, pitchpole, broach etc no matter what. So I think it’s more or less a trial and error exercise.

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First, you have to make sure that you have enough time to plan the lesson and to prepare yourself.

Second, surfing is not only about being able to stand up on the board and then ride it. You also need to know how to fall correctly so that you don’t hurt yourself when you fall off the board.

Third, it takes time for your students to learn how to balance themselves on a surfboard. It takes practice and more practice before they become comfortable with balancing themselves on a surfboard without falling off every time they try it.

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you can check out youtube with a search on ‘kayak surf backwards’
Here are a couple (Tom Humphries does it well):

With a Sterling under his butt, it’s almost “cheating.” I am not a big fan of backwards surfing, especially with boardies around, so don’t have a lot of practice with it. However, trying several times with my Sterling Progression this past winter (with minimal or no surfers around), it was not a big deal (compared to my previous longboats). Frankly, the high Sterling rocker and hull design make the manuever so much more predictable… Yeah, it’s like cheating.


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A Sterling Reflection and Illusion practicing ‘leaving no trace’, well, minimal trace.

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Definitely watch the Tom Humphreys video.

The vast majority of boats (Sterling might be only exception) do not surf well backwards. They will try to turn sideways more than if going forward. You have to do more bow rudders in order to have a chance of keeping the boat going straight.

Because they turn more than forward, and it is hard for most to see behind them anyway, it is even more important you choose a place where there aren’t swimmers or boardies and keep the kayakers separate.

He once talked about how he would flip his paddle over for backward surfing. I think he rolled it over (so correct blade was on each side, but flipped to power face facing forward). You can see him rolling his paddle back as he ends his run and switches to side surf. He found this flipped over position better. That said, this isn’t a standard action, so may not be something to teach.

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Yeah I’m gonna have to try the paddle thing, Ive never seen someone do that before. Although I am going to practice with a gp first, I’ll play with the Euro after I learn it.