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How to Duck Dive a Bigger Board

How to Duck Dive a Bigger Board

We get a lot of questions from customers about whether or not specific board models will duck dive.

If you're not familiar with the term, duck diving is one of the preferred methods of getting you and your board safely under an oncoming wave, and out the back.

Here are the steps for a proper Duck Dive:

  • Paddle straight toward an oncoming wave
  • Press the nose of your board under water (as deep as you can)
  • Then use your foot to press the tail of your board down even lower than the nose of your board, putting your board on an upward trajectory out the back of the wave.

When done well, you can escape under a wave with relative ease.  When done poorly, you and your surfboard can end up taking a ride in the ol' washing machine.

Hot tip: I have always found it mysteriously easier to duck dive when I keep my eyes open under water.  When you really need to get under a wave, get deep and keep your eyes on the prize.

Controlling your surfboard, while you're in the lineup, is a critical rule (for your safety and the safety of others).  Never ditch your board to avoid the punishment of an oncoming wave.  It can become an unavoidable hazard to other surfers paddling out behind you or the surfer who may be up and riding on the wave you are attempting to avoid.  An uncontrolled surfboard flying through a crowded lineup is one of the most dangerous parts of surfing—especially when the waves are big.

Efficient duck diving is one way to avoid dangerous situations in the lineup... but there are two other tips to keep in your back pocket.

1. The Bronc' Rider

If you find yourself caught on the inside on a big board, that's hard to duck dive, channel your inner rodeo bronco rider. (This tip works best when the wave has already broken and a big wall of whitewash is coming your way)

  1. Sit on your surfboard with your nose in the air
  2. Turn you and your board around so you back is facing the oncoming wall of whitewater. 
  3. Keep that nose in the air—way in the air.
  4. Lean back and hold onto your rails with both hands.

The wave should take you for a small, manageable ride and ultimately pass under you.  Just lean back and ride it out.

2. Time Your Paddle Out

The simplest way to avoid duck diving, bronco riding, and getting in the way of surfers who are up in riding is the simplest... it just requires a little patience...

Time your paddle out.

Every surf spot I have ever been to (with the exception of one) has long lulls between sets.  Use the lull between sets to paddle out.

It's so easy for us to get excited and want to paddle straight out the moment we get to the beach.  Save yourself (and your arms) the pain, and wait out the set.  Watch the lineup for 5 or 10 minutes and see what's going on and where the best corners are.  Time your paddle out for the lull and make life easier on yourself.

This rule also applies after you take a good wave in.

Rather than kicking out and paddling straight back to the peak... wait on the inside and wait for the next lull to rejoin the lineup.

So many collisions, near-collisions, and energy-draining duck dives could be avoided if you used a little patience.

What's Next?