Paddling through surf: kneel or stand?

After over 50 years, I have had to give up “normal” wave surfing because of knee problems that impair my ability to quickly pop up from prone to standing position. I have acquired an SUP (11’6" VESL) in hopes that I can use that at the beach to largely replace my surfboard, catch waves, and surf them in standing position. My expectation was that I would be able to paddle from the beach to the break without the need to pop up. However, I am observing that most SUP riders kneel while navigating from the beach through the breaking waves. I anticipate that this is going to be just as hard on my knees as popping up from prone position, possibly harder. If you ride breaking ocean waves on your SUP, how do you paddle out, kneeling or standing? Do you have any tips to share aout making this process easier? Thanks!

50 years of living, or 50 years of surfing?

Either way, if you’re having such a problem with your knee(s), maybe it’s time to explore other things where they aren’t so critical to success.

It’s a little counter intuitive perhaps but standing for paddle outs is likely to be much harder on knees. It requires you to use your legs as huge shock absorbers. The sensation to me is much like skiing moguls, which I no longer do because of knee pain. Go slowly with the knees and stand up paddle surfing. It’s probably going to be easier on your knees, but hard to know exactly what your specific knee issues are . To be honest to surf on small to medium sized waves say up to 5 or 6 feet, you really don’t need to worry about being able to pop up to your feet rapidly. On a board of your size you can take quite a bit of time going from a kneeling or sitting position (requires more of a surf pop up). Paddling out through breaking waves standing up is preferred by most experienced SUP paddlers, if you are experienced paddling kayaks etc in surf you may find kneeling is much easier than standing when going through whitewater. In reality it’s propbably best to know how to do both, Kneeling you can quarter waves and keep from getting hit in the face , standing you can shoot the board over the lip of a wave. Both methods take practice. My advice would be to take some lessons and find some locals that you can surf with to learn the ropes. Don’t get caught up in trying to pop up and paddle like the most experienced surfers, take your time, and do what is comfortable for you and you will be OK. SUS surfering can be quite a workout on legs that are not in shape. Look for videos by Dave Kalama for exercises that you can do (lunges for example). Practice with a balance board .

While I am at it here are several pretty decent videos on paddling out in the surf …