SUP: Paddling out through waves bigger than knee high – SUP surf technique

Tim Axford is dad to UK young gun SUPstart Toby and regularly sits out personal sessions to shoot pics of his offspring from the shore and in the water – such is the life of a parent. While observing his subject Tim is in an optimum position to spot what works in terms of technique. Here Tim shares his thoughts on paddling out through waves bigger than knee high.

  • Wait – watch the waves and try and time your paddle out when the waves are at their smallest i.e. in between sets.
  • Always check behind you to make sure that the area is clear in case of a fall. SUP leashes can be much longer than normal surf leashes and the boards are heavier in general so can hurt someone if you bail. If there is someone then maybe warn them.
  • Believe you will get over without falling backwards or on other side tipping off.
  • Engage ninja skills.
  • Get in surf stance slightly staggered across the board (one foot either side of centre line) This gives you a much more stable platform.
  • As wave reaches you push hard on tail staying centred over board. Don’t just lean back as you may fall off back of board.

Toby Axford paddle out #1


  • Bend your knees. Dropping your centre of gravity will help.
  • As board climbs the whitewater start shifting weight over front foot. Wait though don’t be too hasty as you could catch the wave backwards.
  • As front foot clears top of whitewater push arms forward towards front of board keeping paddle ready and weight front foot to release tail.

Toby Axford paddle out #2

  • Once on other side use paddle as steady or put in a paddle stroke to draw you over the top. Putting the blade of your paddle flat on the surface of the water will help steady you.
  • Stand up and start paddling hard to get over next one.
  • Keep going as it can be hard but if you do fall get your board back as quick as you can by pulling on the leash not swimming to your board.

Toby Axford paddle out #3


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