Which side should you place your paddle on when taking off? It depends. Practice makes perfect. Photo: Aaron Schmidt

Which side should you place your paddle on when taking off? It depends. Practice makes perfect. Photo: Aaron Schmidt

Ask Sam: Leashes, Nicknames and Paddle Placement

Q: When paddling for a wave whilst in a surf stance should I paddle only on my forehand side? I get a bit unbalanced when paddling on my backhand.—Steve
A: Ah, the surf stance paddle problem. Whether you're a regular foot going right or a goofy going left, paddling solely on the forehand side tends to turn your nose into the curl. This is great if your intention is to do a fading, left-go-right (or right-go-left) turn. But for most take-offs you want to use a combination of forehand and backhand stokes to keep the board tracking straight. Before your next wave try mixing a few backhand strokes in with your forehand, at maybe a 3-2 ratio, and see how that feels. Just be sure to never get caught switching sides at the crucial the board starts to drop in: at that point dig hard on whatever side you're on.

Q: What, exactly, is the purpose of those coiled-up, curley-cue board leashes? I've got one but all it seems to do is get caught under my feet when ever I move around on my board. Do they ease the pull on your leg in a wipeout? And is that worth the hassle? —Shelly
A: I sense your frustration, Shelly, and am with you all the way. Those coiled leashes are primarily intended for open water racing and touring, the purpose being to have a leash that absorbs strain in case of separation, yet doesn't trail behind in the water, causing drag. Leash drag isn't such a…well, drag on SUP surfboards, and besides, you move around the board much more when riding waves. I'd suggest ditching the urethane rotelli and getting a regular surf leash.

Q: Sweeper, kelp farmer, standup comedian, oaron … my buddies are having a great time giving me sh*t since I picked up the paddle. Have you come up with anything I can throw back at them? – Craig
A: It's been my experience that when people start calling you names it reveals a lot more about them than it does about you. But when interacting with those unfortunates still clinging to LDS (less desirable surfing) it's better, from the obviously superior point of view, to just smile indulgently as they flop and kick along on their bellies. They are physically and emotionally challenged to such an extent they deserve your compassion, not derision.

More “Ask Sam” here.

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