Flip Rescue - Revised Technique - How to Rescue People Quicker

The Flip Rescue has been a SUP rescue option since day 1. The method came from rafting and sailing, where flipping happens often. It's for pulling anyone out of the water who can't get on their board themselves due to the following reasons..

-Low upper body strength
-Loose fitting vest PFD catching on rail
-Large people whose chest gets in the way
-Hypothermia (too fatigued or numb hands/fingers)
-6" to 8" thick inflatables which can for anyone be difficult to climb on
-Being unconscious
*Or to help swimmers, snorkelers or capsized kayakers who need to get out of the water.

I perform the rescue 1-2 times a year mainly for students with low upper body strength whose boards have thick rails. Watching a high volume rental operation in our neighborhood each summer, we've seen several renters who can't get on their board for a variety of reasons.

The Technique - 
No rescue is ever the same or is ideal. In the new revised technique below, I cross from my board to theirs to speed up the flip-over time. But if you're rescuing a swimmer or snorkeler or paddler who lost their board (no leash?) then you'll have to get in the water to flip their board, get on it, then flip then on.  Or possibly you don't have a board then you'll flip them onto their own board.

In the NRS video here, the lifeguard throws his paddle away then rescues the person. That's fine providing you don't need the paddle, thus I don't recommend that option.  Also the 2 person prone technique works if the one or both people are not big people and the rescue board is thick (over 4.5" thick) - otherwise you'll sink their board. I'm 6-5 230lbs so this option most likely won''t work for me.    If a smaller person is on top, they may not be able to reach the water, this paddle back.

Our Revised Technique - 
- Approach the victim's board from the opposite side that they're facing.
- While doing so, ask the victim how they're doing - Are they cold? How long in the water? Any injuries? Keep talking to them throughout this process.
- From your board, flip the end of their board upside down (ends are easier to flip)
- Climb on their upside down board using your paddle over each to brace
- Pull the victim in towards their upside down board (facing you).
- Place both your paddles between the victim and their board rail. This corrals them from floating away. Once there, neither you or the victim needs to hold the paddles. Once they flip on the board, the paddles get pinned under their chest on the board.
- At this point determine the following
A. If the person is smaller than you, grab their vest lifejacket strap (it not loose), or under their shoulder (arm pit) and fall back into the water behind you. Make sure your board isn't directly behind you (kick yours out then fall).
B. If the person is bigger than you, ask them to cross their arms, grab their hands (not wrists) then stand up on the board. Step to the opposite rail (or heels over opposite rail), clear your board, then fall back. If you don't stand, you'll fail and have to try again. If they're cold, you need to get them out of the water asap - get it right the first time.
- Once on the victim is on the board, move towards the tail and reach over and pull their legs toward you onto the board. Pulling is easier than pushing from the opposite side.
-Then tow/push to shore.

Approach victim. Talk to them access situation.

Flip their board over at the nose or tail

Climb on their board, use paddle to brace boards

Pull in victim. Place paddles between him and his rail

Grab PFD straps, under arm or cross arms

Clear your board, then fall back

Victim on board

From same side, pull victim legs on board

For big people - Stand on board & cross arms, hold hand for falling back
How to Get to Shore?
-Use your leash to two their board to shore. They can hold your leash, strap it around their paddle shaft or attach it to deck outfitting (bungie etc)

- Tow Systems - Our instructors carry a tow rope at all times from NorthWater. Other great systems available from Kokatat, NRS, Salamander, etc. Throw or tow rope works, various lengths.  Or make your own if you're crafty.

- Push their board to shore with yours, nose to tail.  If really close too shore you can push their middle rail to shore with your board nose.

- Have victim lay flat (prone) with their board overlapping your tail. Have them wrap their arms around both boards to lock them. Then paddle both boards to shore.

- If you don't have a board, swim their board to shore pushing from their tail.

- Prone, as shown in the video providing you can reach the water and aren't sinking the board.

Practice - We teach and practice it often in our PSUPA Instructor Training courses and my regular SUP classes to where I can do the rescue on any body type in rough water in less than a minute. Try it with different body types (especially larger people) and board types, both hard and inflatable boards.

Other Ways of Getting a Person on a  Board - 
- With a non inflatable, sit on their board and sink one rail so water comes up, then pull person on over sunken part (like a dry dock), then flatten once they're on, kicking water off.  Not as easy as it sounds but practise it. Inflatables have too much floatation for this.
- Stirrup technique
- Paddle Support technique - Look for future posts on this technique. Ask now if interested.
- Parallel Board technique (paddles as supports between each) - ditto as above
- How to Fall Safety off a SUP

Any questions give me a holler: salmonbaypaddle@gmail.com / 206.465.7167
Check out our SUP classes - beginning to advanced instruction and PSUPA Certification.

Photos by John Patzer

Boards Used - Imagine Surf Connector DLX 14' and Imagine Icon 10-2