If there’s one thing Hobie’s diverse team can agree on, it’s that SUP surfing is a blast. While we had them here for the Pacific Paddle Games (where surfing race boards is a must), we asked them to share tips. They all focused on getting off to a good start.
“This is my passion and I want everyone to experience the same kind of joy that I do while SUP surfing. My tip or tips are start with a bigger board and work your way down, learn proper etiquette/share, don’t be bummed if you fall, and don’t forget to have fun!” said the ever-exuberant Kane Johnson.
Fellow firefighter Michael Skelly also focused on the basics. “For surfing I always recommend getting very comfortable with your board and paddle in flat water prior to entering the surf. Over the years I have observed many new paddlers in the surf zone falling and not appearing to have a whole bunch of enjoyment. Safety first!” he adds.
For Hawaii’s Bullet Obra, a man who surfs monster waves on his Hobie SUP, starting with a nice stable board that you are comfortable on is of utmost importance. “You will spend more time surfing than falling. Then make your way to a more performance shape which we at Hobie have a great line of! Find a nice empty line-up where you can get lots of waves and not have to worry about other surfers,” he said.
North Carolina’ own April Zilg agreed with Bullet on the importance of starting with a stable board. But, she added, get one that gives you some room to grow. “Find some friends that will take you out with them and help coach you through your first few waves,” she said.
Like Kane and the rest of the group, three-time ASP world longboard champ Colin McPhillips thinks SUP surfing is so much fun. “If you’re already a seasoned surfer I would say you just need to concentrate on learning the use of the paddle. Get that down and your speed and power in turning will amaze you! For a first timer its baby steps, set new goals for yourself to reach each week. Paddle placement, turning, speed, etc… Get out there and enjoy!” he encouraged.
For Byron Kurt, SUP surfing successfully starts with reading the waves. “If you can’t catch a wave, you will not learn very quick. Reading the surf includes when to catch the wave, where to catch the wave and then riding the wave. Without reading the surf, you cannot properly do maneuvers,” he said.
California girl Lexi Alston recommends learning how to smoothly carve up and down a wave before trying to pull off maneuvers. “Simply read the wave and plan what you are going to do next,” she said.
Frenchman Martin Letourneur has an interesting approach. He advocates learning to surf your SUP board without the paddle. “You are forced to stay in the curl and use your body efficiently,” he said.