Longboarding is both thrilling and graceful, often appearing as if you’re dancing on the waves! If you have trouble dealing with the break, you might end up wiping out or missing the best part of the wave! Here are the best techniques and tips for beginners and pros to get past the break on a longboard.
You can get past the break on a longboard by using the push-up technique to lift your torso off your board and allow the water to pass between you and the board. Then, use the rocket ship technique, where you use your weight to launch yourself over the wave, and turtle rolling to roll under the wave.
A lot goes into getting past the break on a longboard; you need to consider the volume of your board and the width and keep a constant speed. We’ll cover all the crucial factors and follow a detailed step-by-step guide using the push-up, rocket ship, and turtle roll techniques. We’ll cover tips pros use and examine the differences between paddling with longboards and shortboards.
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Paddling Out In Big Surf On A Longboard
You might really enjoy using your 6’6 Foamie board with 44L of volume – its superior buoyancy and stability are unparalleled, making riding the waves much more enjoyable! While this is true, these factors also make it more challenging to negotiate the waves when you paddle out.
Duck diving is a handy technique that you can use to dive under an oncoming wave to avoid getting pushed back. It requires you to push your surfboard under the water, which can be difficult with a longboard board with a high volume (buoyancy) and stubbornly refuses to sink.
So, how do you get past the whitewater on your longboard?
Getting Past Whitewater On A Longboard: Step-By-Step Guide
While you can’t completely stop oncoming waves from pushing you back, you can control by how much. You can use a few methods to help you get past the whitewater and paddle out comfortably at a good pace. We’ll examine the raised method, the rocket ship, and turtle rolling.
The Push-Up Technique
- Increase your paddling speed toward the approaching whitewater or the lip of the wave. Speed is vital to help you build momentum and maximize the chances of the technique working.
- When the whitewater is about to hit you, use your arms to lift your torso up and off the board. This will ensure the whitewater passes between you and your surfboard, significantly reducing the resistance you feel from the wave.
- If you want to take the push-up technique further, you can also perform a hop motion to lift your feet into the air and off the board. The less water hits your body, the less resistance you’ll experience.
This method is ideal for moderate-sized whitewater because if the whitewater is taller than you, it will lift you and push you backward.
- When you see the approaching whitewater, sit up and move to the back of your board, raising your board‘s nose into the air. This is important for gaining the necessary momentum for the next step.
- As the whitewater is about to hit you, reach your arms as high up your board as you can, and pull your weight toward your board’s nose. Watch your timing; if you don’t have enough weight at the nose of your board when the wave hits, you’ll flip backward.
- Shooting yourself forward with your weight will help you to propel yourself up, out of the water, and over the wave.
The rocket ship is excellent for dealing with smaller waves or when the waves are too big for the push-up technique, but more powerful waves will lift you up and possibly turn you on your back, so be careful!
- Accelerate into the oncoming whitewater, keeping your board perpendicular to the wave (facing the wave).
- Use both hands and grab the rails of your surfboard.
- Shift your body off your board and into the water, turning your board upside down so that you are underneath it and holding it with both hands.
- When the whitewater hits you, jab it with your board to reduce resistance.
- Once the wave passes, climb back onto your board and continue paddling out.
Turtle rolling is ideal if there’s a wave breaking right in front of or on top of you.
Rip Currents: How To Use Them To Your Advantage
If you’ve spent time in the ocean or have experience with surf lifesaving, you’ve probably heard about rip currents. While they do carry a negative connotation due to their safety risks, experienced surfers often use them to make it back to the lineup much quicker.
A rip current results from water rushing back into the ocean after hitting the shoreline. When this process happens for long periods, small-scale erosion forms channels that allow the water to return to the sea. These channels are often deeper than the sand around them, which means that waves don’t break in the rip current itself.
Here’s how to spot a rip current:
- Dark patches of water deep-colored water
- Fewer breaking waves
- Rippled surface surrounded by a smooth surface
- Anything floating beyond the waves (foamy, discolored sandwater)
Rip currents are dangerous, so practice safety first, and if there’s a lifeguard on duty, swim where they can see you and between the allocated flags.
Longboarding Vs. Shortboarding: Which Is Easier To Paddle?
Longboards and shortboards are loads of fun and excitement in their own right, but when it comes to paddling, longboards are easier to paddle than shortboards. Let’s look at the facts:
- Length – longboards are longer than shortboards, which means they have more glide and momentum on the water. This makes them easier to paddle and catch waves with. Shortboards are shorter and require more effort and speed to paddle and catch waves with.
- Width – shortboards are narrower and require more skill and agility to paddle and maneuver. Longboards are wider than shortboards, which means they have more stability and balance on the water. This makes them easier to paddle and control.
- Volume – longboards have more volume than shortboards, which means they have more buoyancy and floatation on the water. This makes them easier to paddle and stay on top of the water. Shortboards have less volume and sink more into the water. This makes them harder to paddle and prone to nose-diving.
- Rocker – shortboards have more rocker and have more curves from nose to tail. This makes them harder to paddle and lose speed on the water. Longboards are less rocker than shortboards, meaning they have less curve from nose to tail. This makes them easier to paddle and maintain speed on the water.
- Fins – longboards usually have one or three fins, while shortboards usually have two to five fins. Fins affect the board’s drag, lift, and stability on the water. More fins create more drag, which makes the board harder to paddle but more stable. Fewer fins create less drag, which makes the board easier to paddle but less stable.
Common Mistakes When Passing The Break On A Longboard
Paddling out on a longboard is different from paddling out on a shortboard. Because your longboard is bigger, the wave’s force will have a larger effect on your board, often slowing you down or pushing you back.
Mistake 1: Learn Your Paddle Techniques
If you aimlessly flail your arms when approaching oncoming waves, you’ll spend most of your time trying to catch a wave to ride. It can significantly hinder your progress to the next level because you aren’t spending your time where it matters!
Make sure you’re aware of and practice techniques on paddling, like the push-up technique, rocket ship, and turtle roll.
Mistake 2: Learn How To Paddle Properly
Your ability to paddle well is a vital skill that will prepare you for a great experience. For one, you don’t want to miss out on catching the best waves! You’ll need to be fast and efficient while conserving the energy you need to enjoy those waves.
Here’s what you need to know about paddling properly:
Vertical Body Position
To paddle well, you need to find the sweet spot on your surfboard or the point where your body is balanced, and your nose is slightly above the water. You can find it by moving your chest up or down your board until its nose barely lifts 2 inches (5 cm) out of the water.
Finding the correct body position also requires keeping your head up and not on your board – you need to see what’s in front of you when you paddle! The space between your chin and the board should be just big enough to fit a football.
The human head is heavy enough that, by lifting it from your board, your board’s nose will rise significantly. When your chest and head are in the correct position, your board’s nose will rise out of the water by over 2 inches (5 cm), and you’ll know you’ve hit the sweet spot.
Horizontal Body Position
You should make a habit of centering your body on your board. If you lift your hands out of the water and tilt to one side, you don’t have a horizontal body position.
It’s helpful to imagine a line running through the middle of your board; that line should also run through you’re the middle of your body.
A common mistake many beginners make is to try to balance their board with their legs – avoid this! It will make you slower because your legs will drag in the water.
Mistake 3: Proper Hand Motion
If you want to paddle more easily in the water, you should practice the proper hand and arm movements in the same way that a fish knows how to use their fins to swim properly.
Step 1: Wrap Your Arms Around A Log Or Barrel
When you move your arms, imagine wrapping them around a log or barrel. Your fingers will also automatically point down while your elbows remain high: this is the EVF (early vertical forearm) position.
You can check this position by drawing a line from your hand to your shoulder and checking that your elbow is above that line. The primary goal is to get into a position that makes your arm like a big paddle. This way, you can push more water back and move faster forward.
Step 2: Pull Your Arms Backward
If you followed step 1 correctly, you only need to ensure your hand and forearm stay straight and point down during your stroke and your elbow stays high. Don’t let your elbow drop or move back while you paddle. This will make you slower because you will pull less water.
Step 3: Motion To Reduce Drag, Injury, And Save Energy
This motion involves moving your arm out of and above the water after the paddle stroke and moving your hand forward in front of your head.
Your elbow needs to exit the water first – this should happen naturally if you keep your elbow bent and don’t straighten your arm completely at the end of the underwater pull.
Lift your elbow up and forward, and when your arm is halfway up, let your take over and lead your arm into the water again. You should only start moving with your hand when your hand is at the same level as your shoulder.
Step 4: Prepare Your Hand For The Second Stroke
Your hand should enter the water a fair distance ahead of your head and shoulder. If you’re on a big wide surfboard, your hand should go into the water next to the rails of your board to reduce drag.
Make sure your fingertips go into the water first. Ensure that your wrist remains higher than your fingertips while your elbow also remains higher than your wrist.
Improving Your Longboarding Skills: Drills and Exercises
Whether you’re a professional surfer or you’ve recently bought your first surfboard, there’s always room for improvement! Here are some handy drills you can practice to help you improve your longboarding skills!
- Don’t go to the nose unless you know you can hang-10 – when you do a hang five, you can balance on your board’s nose even if you are not very close to the breaking part of the wave. But if you want to do a hang ten, you must be in the steepest and most exciting part of the wave.
To nose ride, you need to catch the flow of water that starts at the tip of your board and goes around and over your board. The water flow sucks in your board and causes it to lift.
- Nose-riding drills – you can practice nose-riding on your longboard by finding a small and gentle wave and practicing moving your weight forward and backward on the board. You can also use a nose guard or a leash plug to mark the nose of the board and practice hanging your toes over it.
- Pop-up drills – you can practice popping up on your longboard by finding a small and gentle wave and practicing going from lying on your stomach to standing on your feet in one smooth motion. You can also practice popping up on different parts of the board, such as the nose, the tail, or the middle.
- Turning drills – Practice turning your longboard in the water by finding a medium-sized wave, shifting your weight, and rolling your ankles to make the board lean on each edge. You can also practice different types of turns, such as bottom turns, top turns, cutbacks, and cross-steps.
Getting past breaks while longboarding requires using the three primary techniques: push-up, rocket ship, and turtle rolling. If you’re an experienced or professional surfer, you can also use rip currents to your advantage for an efficient route to the lineup. The secret to cutting down the time it takes to get past the break to a standstill is employing all these techniques – so dive in and have fun!
- Paddling out on a longboard: YouTube.com
- Duck Dive: YouTube.com
- Rip currents: YouTube.com
- Paddling a longboard: surfertoday.com
- Surfing a shortboard: YouTube.com
- Longboard Vs. Shortboard paddling: YouTube.com
- Longboard: pass the break: YouTube.com
- Common mistakes: longboard passing the break: YouTube.com
- Paddling properly: YouTube.com
- Longboard improvement drill: YouTube.com
Torsten Bird is a talented and adventurous waterman from Western Australia, passionate about surfing, stand-up paddleboarding, hydrofoiling, skimboarding, snowboarding and skateboarding. Torsten has spent countless hours mastering his skills and his dream is to one day represent Australia as an Olympic athlete. Follow Torsten’s adventures on Instagram.