By Chris Anders, Contributing Writer
I see so many new paddlers struggle with turning their board and head in the direction that they want to go. Here are some simple techniques that will make turning your board easy and effective. Let me start with saying that I only think paddling backwards is good for maneuvering in tight spaces such as being close to other paddlers or inside a marina and docking. In open water use the following methods.
First thing when paddling your board, always look on the horizon and in the direction that you want to go when making slight turns, do not look down at your board. Your body’s natural mechanics will turn your board with controlling your core and your legs, keeping your feet shoulder width apart and toes forward. When making sharper turns place your top end of the paddle on your hip and make a wide sweeping motion from the front of the board (12 o’clock) out wide to your 3 o’clock or 9 o’clock position depending on which direction you want to go.
Pivot turning takes a little more balance and experience. The pivot turn is most effective for turning the board 180 degrees which is very useful when trying to catch waves or pivoting around a buoy when racing. You will initially need to drop one foot to the tail of the board. This may take a few small steps in the beginning but when you get better you can do it in one step, unless you have a 14’ board or greater. Once you step back to the tail face your toes toward the rails. Put your weight on your back foot. If you feel the back of your board sinking too much shift your weight to your front leg and move your back foot more forward until you feel control of the board with the nose coming out of the water. Now make quick strokes with your paddle on the opposite side of the direction you want to turn. For maximum rotation and leverage place your paddle away from your body and pull it toward the tail of the board. The board will turn quickly if you have the correct balance and board tip out of the water. You are definitely going to fall in a few times but once you get to know where your body weight should be you will be in total control of turning your board in any situation.
Chris Anders, CEO
Palm Beach Boat Club and Paddleboard Shop
561.840.1901 • www.thepalmbeachboatclub.com