Being on a paddleboard requires the same safety precautions and vigilance as any other activity on the water, which is why before talking about advanced techniques for paddle boarding, Patrick Dwyer recommends to keep all safety measures in mind. A paddleboard is considered a vessel when used beyond the narrow limits of a swimming, surfing or bathing area. This mean that you need to be as prepared as you would be when using what is considered a traditional vessel. Whether you are an expert or new to the activity, you should consider this safety precautions when it comes to using stand-up paddle boarding:
Wear a lifejacket and carry a whistle; learn to swim to a competent level; be prepared to Self-Rescue; know how to tow another board; read about the local navigation Rules and Regulations; understand the elements and hazards of the water, like winds, tidal ranges, current and terrain; know when to wear a leash; navigate in a defensive way; and in addition, take a safety course.
After preparing with safety measures, you are ready for some advanced stuff: First, keep your head still while paddling. When you sway your head and it moves off the vertical axis of your body, something on the other side of your body moves the opposite way. This increases your lateral profile, making more drag. Instead, keep the head still and rotate your body around an imaginary mental axis going down your body from head to tailbone. This is a key technique in maintaining lateral balance, and thus reducing drag. Also, when paddling keep your elbow high. This impacts the amount of propulsion you are able to get out of each stroke. This helps keep the paddle in a vertical position from the start of the stroke.
Distance per stroke and stroke rate, define your paddling speed. To paddle faster, you need to increase either one, or both. There is no one technique that fits all, it depends on your size, weight, fitness, shoulder flexibility, board and paddle type, but here some general suggestions:
The first part of the stroke is the most effective part. To improve your reach you should throw your lower shoulder to the front and the top shoulder back in order to reach far out to the front. The harder you push the blade in, the more effective the stroke will be. Use your whole upper body to push the blade deep into the water and pull through. When you pull the paddle out too far back behind your body it gets harder to pull it out. What makes pulling out easier, is to quickly angle the blade to the side, this will lower water resistance and make it easier to take the paddle out. Avoid bringing the paddle to the front in a wide, circular motion. Bringing the paddle straight to the front is much faster than doing a long detour over the side. Push the paddle down with your whole upper body and then, to take the paddle out, quickly put your body upright again, throwing your hips forward and shoulder backwards. When you feel your blade is hitting the water while trying to bring the paddle to the front in a more straight way, forcing you to do a wide circle, you should change your paddle, because it might be too long for you.
The hull of a paddle board plays a major role in determining how the paddle board performs in the water. There are two hull types: The first one is the planing hull, a flat and wide board, similar to a surfboard. It is designed to ride on top of the water and performs great in ocean waves. Many beginner paddle boarders start on boards with planing hulls because they tend to be stable and are versatile for recreational paddling and surfing. The second is the displacement Hull, designed for paddling long distances and racing. These have a pointed nose or bow similar to that of a kayak. This board slices through water, pushing the water around the nose to the sides to improve efficiency, but adding some difficulty to maneuvers.
This can be tricky. Wind, tides, currents, boat wakes and rebound off of coastal features can all affect your ride. Wind causes the surface of the water to pile up on itself creating peaks and valleys that move rapidly. This is called chop, and a lot of times these peaks of chop water will collide with one another and ricochet in different directions. You may also have to deal with ocean swell in deeper water that moves slower than chop but carries more water over a larger surface area. Your paddle blade needs to be all the way down into the water on the catch phase of the stroke and your back should be kept straight. A longer stroke with a deeper catch is essential in rough water as it will help you power through the chop especially if it is hitting you from the side. Exaggerate your reach and dig the paddle blade deep into the water and start drawing it back only once it is fully submerged.
Widen your stance more than shoulder width apart, and move one foot back several inches. This will give you front to back stability as well as from side to side. As you practice move your feet around the board. Paddle boards are designed to be walked on, so try different stances in different areas on the board and figure out what works best for you.