02 August 2010

Technique: reverse surfing

After the recent training with Queensland instructor Craig McSween, I gained more confidence in the surf.
Craig taught me how to land on the beach when the waves are bigger and one technique that he advocates is to reverse in, with the bow pointing out at sea.

His teaching calls for paddling your kayak backwards between the waves while forward paddling as waves roll in. The bigger the wave the more forward paddling/speed required to avoid the steep ones pushing you back.
In case my timing is out and a larger wave is approaching at the wrong time, he suggested paddling back out against the wave to brake the speed the wave could generate on my kayak.

However I wanted to know what would happen if I intentionally paddled with the wave, in reverse.
I wanted to surf them instead of just landing safely between them.
Reverse surfing is similar to forward surfing but the weight transfer is opposite.
To prevent pearling (burring my kayak's end in the water) I leant forward to the bow and un-weighted the stern.
It really works on small waves and after a few runs I was having great fun.
To push the technique further I then tried to actually lean back and bury that stern.
As predicted the kayak pierced the water's surface, the stern dived and I was pitched up in the air.

PS SEP10: this video was published by Rapid Media here


  1. Great stuff Gnarly, and love the cracking soundtrack! What camera are you using for your footage, the quality is great! Cheers - FP

  2. FP,
    I use the same camera that is used in some of the footage for "Top Gear" TV series.
    It records in full HD, however Youtube display does not give credit to the high quality original footage...

  3. Dog,

    Your half way there to doing a Pirouette. Pick a beach with a sandy bottom. Paddle forward into an oncoming wave, four to six feet works well, timing it so the wave pushes up hard on the bow.

    At this point do not do the usual throw your weight to the front; you are not trying to go through the wave. Throw your weight to the back as you describe above so the wave stands you straight up. As you reach vertical lever off the wave with your paddle and use body english to do a 180 spin and when you come down, voila, you are surfing forwards towards the beach. You have done a Pirouette.

    My buddies and I discovered this, although I'm sure we were not the first, when launching our sea kayaks through the surf one day. One guy did something like this by mistake and we all started doing it, having it perfected in about fifteen minutes. We had planned a few hours of rock gardening, but never made it. We ended up doing silly surf tricks all day.

    The Pirouette can be done forwards also. Back hard into the oncoming wave and throw your weight forward, flipping up and spinning. Now when you come down you are surfing backwards.

    The sandy bottom becomes your friend after a while. By going through the motions intensely you can run your bow/stern into the sand anchoring your boat, causing a faster, more crowd and self pleasing manoeuvre.

    Have fun, Shark

  4. Looks awesome. Having buried a bow or two and going arse over head, I cannot imagine what doing it all in reverse must feel like.

  5. Shark,
    where I paddle is just about all sandy beaches.
    I like your trick of the Pirouette.
    Next time I am out in the right conditions I will give it a go and maybe even put it on film.

    the reason I am doing this reverse surfing with attempted endo it's the awesome feeling I get from rushing with my kayak in reverse and then getting pitched in the air.
    Just like rolling for the fun of it, it's the reason I paddle maneuverable kayaks instead of fast kayaks.
    Sea kayaking to me is mostly a fun activity; I get my kicks from playboating, not from the workout :-)

  6. Stern first coming in is how we always land in a dinghy, so nice to see it in the kayak. Look forward to trying it ;)

  7. Now that looks fun! Very nicely done.


  8. cool! I like!



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