How to SUP: The Eddy Turn
Standup paddling makes everything more fun. Shin-high waves become bragging fodder. Your local lake can be surfed. And moving water, even the easy stuff, is like a carnival ride minus the sketchy carnies and corndogs. Here, whitewater kayaking legend and river SUP guru Dan Gavere shows us how to exit an eddy with style. Eddies are safety zones formed where a rock, stump or part of the riverbank blocks the current, creating a patch of calm water. "Eddies are the river-runner's main refuge," says Gavere. "Catching them—and getting out of them—are definitely cornerstone skills."
PEEL OUT. Find a nice mellow eddy with a distinctive eddyline where the downstream current meets the calmer water of the eddy. You'll start in the eddy facing upstream, and as you cross the eddyline the current will catch the front of your board and turn it downriver—a nice carving turn called a peel out. So start with your stance square and take a few strokes to approach the eddyline with speed. You want to have a little bit of drive as you cross it.
ANGLE YOUR BOARD. Cross the eddyline with your board angled about 30 degrees in the direction of your turn—use a little less angle in strong current, a little more on mellow stuff. Put a little more pressure on the foot that's on the inside of the turn, so that you present the bottom of your board to the oncoming current. Stroke on the inside of your turn or just leave your paddle in the water to act as a brace as you enter the main current.
FEEL THE CARVE. You'll feel the edge of your board carve a turn as you exit the eddy. Really concentrate on the feeling of that edge and how it slices through the water. Be careful not to over-edge, though, by leaning too far downstream. Keep an athletic position with your knees bent, look downstream to your next target and let the board and the river do most of the work. If you're feeling unstable, take a few strokes as you edge. Your board is always more stable with speed.
Put it all together here.
Dan Gavere's Ultimate Guide to Stand Up Paddling is available at SUPinstruction.com