Rob Casey is the owner of SUP school Salmon Bay Paddle in Seattle, co-founder for the PSUPA and is the author of two paddling guides.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

How to Paddle a SUP Straight

Paddle goes in straight line

Having a hard time keeping your sup straight? Back in the day when I was new to SUP, about 2006, I devised a way to keep my board straight when paddling. I added pressure to one rail, adjusted my trim (where you stand on the board) to where the board would go straight. Then I'd hold that angle for a few miles. Luckily, I overheard Dan Gavere mention paddling straight with a vertical paddle shaft.

There's a few reasons why you're not going straight. Here's what I teach my students to help them paddle not only straight, but on one side. You can do 2 of the three tips or even just one if you have a long race or downwind board with a straight waterline.

Paddling on one side is less work, will make you go faster and have more fun...

1. Look where you're going (not down or to the side, for the most part).

2. As the image shows on the right, draw your paddle blade down a straight line from the catch to your feet. The catch is where your blade goes in. If you follow the contour of your board from the nose down, you're actually doing a sweep turn which is very common.

3. Make sure your paddle shaft is vertical through the power phase of your stroke, so from your catch to your exit at your feet. This means your upper hand is over the water. If your upper hand is over the board, the shaft/blade will be doing a C shape turning the board.

      Keep Paddle shaft vertical

For your Forward Stroke - Avoid..

- Pulling your paddle past your feet. A little bit is fine but too much, your body will rotate thus will turn your board.

- Over Grip your Paddle - This extra tension will put strain on your arm/shoulders and limit the flexibility of your arms thus will affect the efficiency and direction of your stroke.

- Paddle with your Arms Only - Make sure to have both arms mostly straight (slight bend in upper arm) thus rotating your torso for your stroke vs bending your arms to paddle. Making sure to reach from your waist (hinging) for your reach to the catch.

Try This...

Count your Strokes - Start counting your strokes on each side. You may notice that you'll get more strokes from one side than the other. For many it's their dominant side. For me, a lefty (goofy foot) I can paddle forever on my left side - but not so effective on the right side. In races when my competitor is changing sides a lot, I can pass him/her by not changing my sides. Downside of paddling on one side is possibly over using that shoulder. Keeping a loose grip (super loose) does reduce arm/shoulder strain.

Fins - Fins can make a difference of whether you're paddling straight. A small fin 3"-5" can not only affect balance but also be too small to really affect your tracking. If the above techniques don't work for you, get a bigger fin. Many race fins are 10" deep and 4-6" wide. Larry Allison's Ninja and Gladiator Fins are examples of popular fins that help paddlers not only go straighter but will make them more stable.  Most of my surf style boards have 9" fins. I use the Ninja for my race board.

Your Stance Affects Direction - Years ago, I called Prijon, the kayak manufacturer for my boat at the time. I complained that the boat must've been warped as I couldn't keep it going straight. I never heard back. Turns out, I was probably sitting slightly ajar in my cockpit. Same goes for SUPs. If you're adding more pressure to one rail than another, your board will go in the weighted direction. If the board isn't flat on the water - nose up or tail up, then this will affect your forward direction. Have someone look at your board from the side to make sure your it's flat (with u on it).

Any questions give me a holler. Join my mailing list! Contact me: / 206.465.7167 - Check out our SUP classes in Seattle - Beginning to advanced instruction including freighter and tug wave surfing, coastal surfing, rivers and racing, plus PSUPA Certification.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

SUP Podcasts & Adventures on Stand Up Paddle the World Radio

(L to R) Me, Darrel and NOAA Scientist Mark Powell
Despite a lot of rain, we have a lot going on here in Seattle when it comes to SUP. Just so happens, paddler Darrell Kirk lives 2 blocks from me. Darrell runs Stand Up Paddle the World which is a collection of pod casts interviews of SUP paddlers from not only the Pacific Northwest but also around the world.

Darrell's page also includes his explorations of many SUP trips he's taken on the Chicago River, 400' under Missouri in a mine, the Salton Sea and many more places.

Check out his site here..

Search Darrell's many pod casts of paddlers, a NOAA meteorologist, families who paddle together, women in SUP and SUP fitness experts.

Check out Darrell's channel on iTunes

Any questions give me a holler. Join my mailing list! Contact me: / 206.465.7167 - Check out our SUP classes in Seattle - Beginning to advanced instruction including freighter and tug wave surfing, coastal surfing, rivers and racing, plus PSUPA Certification.

Yes, It's True: They CAN Shoot You From Shore

Interesting article reposted from

By Tamia Nelson
March 7, 2017
Article by Tamia NelsonMany years ago—William Jefferson Clinton was still living in the White House, and Farwell and I were just starting to write for what was then—I was skimming through a not-very-good book on waterfront photography when I came to a chapter titled "You Can Shoot Them From Shore." The subject was photographing boat races with long lenses, but I couldn't help thinking that the title hinted at another, darker meaning. And no, I wasn't being alarmist. I'd already come under fire when I was on the water. A young man—the son of a neighbor, as it turned out—decided to amuse himself by sending a few rounds over our heads as we took the Tripper out on the 'Flow for an evening paddle. He'd apparently concluded that he could shoot us from shore with complete impunity. He was right, too. The long arm of the law often proves to be pitifully short in the Adirondack foothills. The "jes' havin' a little fun" defense may not figure prominently in the statute books, but it commands respect from many rural cops and courts to this day.
In any event, we escaped unharmed from the shoreline shooter. (It helped to have a bowman with no small experience in assessing—and evading—incoming fire.) Nor did the incident recur. But it served to remind me that paddlers can easily pass for sitting ducks. Deliverance may have been fiction, but almost any one of us could someday share Drew Ballinger's fate.
I hasten to add that this isn't very probable. Though something like 30,000 Americans die of gunshot wounds every year, very few of them die with a paddle in their hands. To keep things in perspective, it's important to remember that a steering wheel is our usual companion when we meet a violent end: The automobile is the reigning champion in America's trauma stakes. Back-of-the-envelope extrapolations suggest that one in every 115 Americans will be killed in or by a car, with two out of every three of us sustaining crash injuries that require medical attention at some point in our lives. And far too many of these injuries will lead to crippling disabilities. My conclusion? The most dangerous part of any paddling holiday is the drive to and from the put-in.
That being said, there's still a chance that you'll someday find yourself on the wrong end of a gun. A case in point: Only a month ago, four kayakers came under fire in Arizona. You can read the details in the Mohave Valley Daily News, but here's the executive summary: The kayakers incurred the wrath of a waterfront property owner, who allegedly expressed his displeasure by shooting at them. One quick-thinking boater made his escape downriver, but his companions were less fortunate. According to newspaper accounts, they were held at gunpoint and forced to leave the water. Luckily, none of the four was injured or killed, but the property owner now faces an impressive roster of felony charges.
Could you someday find yourself in the same boat? Yes. Most navigable rivers pass through private lands, at least now and then, and many rural landowners keep a gun within easy reach. But is it likely you'll ever end up in someone's sights? No. There's comfort to be had in statistics. Still, given the often life-changing (or life-ending) consequences of stopping a bullet, it pays to be prepared. You could add body armor and a Kevlar helmet to your gear list, of course, but unless you're paddling down the Tigris, this would be…er…overkill. The best way to avoid trouble is—you guessed it—to avoid trouble. In short,…
Check out our SUP classes in Seattle - Beginning to advanced instruction including freighter and tug wave surfing, coastal surfing, rivers and racing, plus PSUPA Certification.