Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How Kayak Surfing Works


Kayak Surfing Techniques
Before hitting the ocean, you should stand back and observe the pattern of the waves to get an idea of how fast they're going and how much time is between them.
Before hitting the ocean, you should stand back and observe the pattern of the waves to get an idea of how fast they're going and how much time is between them.
©iStockphoto.com/Rey Rojo

Here's a step-by-step process for how to best kayak surf:

Take a look at the waves from the shore and come up with a game plan. See if there's enough lull time to paddle out to the waves, and look to where the waves are breaking. Then, you can decide when and where to enter the ocean.

Board your kayak where the surf hits the shore so that your kayak doesn't move much along the coastline. Once you're ready to set out, use your arms to push your kayak into the water. Paddle to the part of the ocean where you want to ride the waves. To get to the swells, you might have to paddle over or through some waves -- make sure the waves don't break on you. If you think a wave is about to break on you, you should turn away, paddle over it or just ride the wave in.

As the swells start to build, begin paddling to shore to catch the wave. Ideally, you'll want to go only fast enough to keep up with the wave. If you go too slowly, the wave will pass you; however, if you paddle too fast, you'll be too far ahead of the wave and miss it.

When you see a wave that suits your requirements for speed and volume, you can position yourself on top right facing shore before it begins to break. You'll drop into the pocket of the wave where it is steepest and fastest. Here, you'll be able to practice the most moves and maneuvers.

Once you've caught a wave, lean forward and paddle to ride it either straight into shore or slightly angled in the same direction the wave is breaking. If the wave is very steep, it could cause the bow, or front, of the kayak to dip too deeply into the ocean, which could cause you to capsize. To avoid this scenario, lean backward so that your weight is toward the wave [source: Beman].

When landing your kayak, you might be able to ride a wave all the way to the shore if you are a seasoned wave rider and the beach is free of swimmers and other riders. However, if you can't ride into the beach, you can do a controlled surf landing, in which you paddle backward to avoid catching a wave as it approaches, then paddle forward to chase it toward the shore. This will slow your landing and allow you to control where you go and how fast you get there [source: Foster].

On the next page, we'll learn about some kayak surfing tips.


More to Explore