How to SUP: Utilizing the Nose Rudder

The nose rudder is very effective way to turn your board very quickly with very little effort while moving, or in river current.  It's ideal for turning your board around a buoy quickly during a race no matter how long your board is.  I learned the turn using an 18-foot sea kayak and found I could turn those boats on a dime in tight spots.

To turn to the right, take a few strokes to get the board moving forward. While bending your knees, extend the paddle out over the water on the right side of your board by the nose with your lower arm fully extended, and rotate your wrists to the right so the power face of the blade faces the rail.  The blade face should be vertical as it reaches the water. Hold the paddle in that position until the board turns to your desired angle. Depending on your forward speed or the amount of incoming current, you can adjust the amount the board turns by varying the vertical angle of your blade.  You can turn the board quicker with a vertical blade in fast moving current or forward speed, while less blade angle is required to turn the board in slower current or forward speed.

You might find that the lower you are on the board, the longer  the paddle will be in the water thus turning the board easier.  Staying low will also make you more stable especially in rough conditions.  The opposite version of this turn is the tail rudder which is often used for not only turning but also keeping the board straight while surfing.

An advanced version of the nose rudder is to push the rail down slightly on the side you're turning on with your feet.  This removes a portion of your board out of the water thus having less resistance in the water. This is called edging.  You might find that pushing the opposite rail down might benefit you instead.  Try both sides and see what works best at varying speeds. Note that each board design will react differently to edging.

— This article is based on material from Rob Casey's forthcoming book, Stand Up Paddling, to be published by the Mountaineers Books in spring 2011.

More videos here.