What you need to succeed while SUP surfing

Much ink has been spilled about how SUP surfers should conduct themselves in the presence of other surfers. Avoid crowded lineups. Don’t be a wave hog. Surf the shoulder, not the peak, and so on. Each of these anecdotes may be relevant advice at one time or another. Other pieces of content, including some on this site, focus on paddling tips for SUP surfers. Always wear a leash. Time your paddle out. Use a staggered stance. Learn surfing etiquette and more. These statements are also intelligent and valuable contributions.

The one thing overlooked in the prevailing narrative is to paddle and surf with confidence. Confidence while SUP surfing comes in two parts: Confidence in your equipment and confidence in your abilities. Let’s take a look at each.

Confidence in your equipment

Prior to one year ago I was your basic fumbling, bumbling intermediate SUP surfer. My SUP surfing skills had progressed beyond the 10’6” x 32” tank of a board I learned on, but really had not developed much further. I was in a rut. Despite my 150 lbs and 5’6” build, I needed a comfortable SUP that I could stand on, i.e. not a sub-100 L potato chip. I don’t have a traditional surfing background, so my balance and surfing IQ was, and remains, a work in progress. I also knew I didn’t want a slug of a board. I wanted a performance SUP that I could grow with. Then I discovered the Infinity New Deal.

Designed as a performance longboard SUP, the Infinity New Deal has been the perfect board to give me the long sought after confidence in my equipment. What makes the New Deal so great?

For starters, it is not a ghost shape. Infinity was formally established as a brand in 1970. Their knowledge runs deep and the Boehne family has decades of combined experience designing and shaping every type of board imaginable from traditional longboards to 21st Century SUP foils. Riding an Infinity is the equivalent of driving a Mercedes-Benz. It a timeless piece of California surfing heritage.

Confidence in your abilities

Gaining confidence in my ability SUP surfing became an extension of having good equipment beneath my feet followed by spending time on the water. Gaining experience and taking some wipeouts. Getting creamed by breaking waves paddling out. Learning how to read the conditions. How fast is the wave traveling? Where is it likely to break? How quickly can I paddle? Stepping on the tail to execute a quick turn, and more.

One of the great things about the ocean is it is different each time you go out. This also makes it challenging. The wind and waves are never quite the same. Paddling out on a SUP is always a bit of a mission. You can’t duck dive or turtle roll. But with time you will learn the prevailing rhythm at your local break. You’re proficiency at executing the core components of paddling out, catching a wave, and performing a bottom turn with improve with repetition. You will slowly gain confidence in your abilities to handle different situations.  

You should always error on the side of caution, particularly when your safety or that of others is concerned. Even so, before long you’ll see that large wave approaching and think to yourself, yeah, I got this.   

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Matt Chebatoris

Matt is a former national security professional and lifelong adventurer. He has published material on a variety of topics in the foreign policy arena and created PaddleXaminer™ as a platform to share his enjoyment of paddling with others. When not on the water, Matt can be found hiking along rugged mountain trails in the California wilderness. Matt resides in Los Angeles and is a member of the Lanakila Outrigger Canoe Club in Redondo Beach, California.