Tips On Back Surfing A Sea Kayak

by  tOM Humphries

Most waves this day were not big enough outside to carry to the break & impact zone, so we stayed inside the soup or in this case settled for catching short rides between the build & dumpy break, which can get tricky. Successful take-off, starting to plane-off in front of the building wave. Time to establish direction, starting with the outside edge carve while I go for a rudder to the inside.
All Photos by Mark Boyd

Planed-off with enough speed to have some quick fun in front of the building break wave. Looks like I'm just starting to come off from cranking a quick little turn to the looker's left. Ruddering on the inside of the turn and trying to carve with the outside edge,; this takes less speed from the boat and allows me to accelerate down the modest wave face. My left foot is pushing hard, right foot is light while I try to anchor with my right cheek,(no, not my face). Foot pressures ect. would be reversed if surfing forward.

Already time to set-up for the bail-out before the break in the impact zone. Starting a hard bottom wave cut-back to looker's right. Having built enough speed to start outrunning the wave, I can crank up that inside edge a touch along with my inside rudder, it feels a lot like banking or balancing a bike through a turn.

I still have good speed here and am just waiting for the right moment to crank into the wave to avoid either a pitch pole or window shade. You can see there are two waves converging just to my right; the wave on my right will be the foam pile I want to brace into. I'm just a little early here, so I'm coasting; I don't want to work back up the wave when it's about to dump and get worked in a windowshade. If I were in deeper water I might be able to cut-back hard to the left & run out the wave face but not here where it'll dump.

Making the exit move! If I don't get to a side surf here, my bow will get lifted causing my stern to auger in & prolly pitch me over. You can clearly see the speed I'm holding here, I want to crank it over hard to scrub some of that and to get sideways to the foam pile. Things are happening fast now and I want my paddle at the ready, hips are cranked as far as I can, left knee is up, right foot pushing hard.

Safe! Cranked hard into the wave first with a high brace, flicking my hips & boat toward shore then pulling my boat back under me & transitioning to a low brace as the foam pile catches up,(remember to keep elbows down & in when high bracing no matter what your hips are doing). Short, exciting & fun. Be ready to pay for moves like this one with plenty of failures. All the best, tOM & all The Neptune's Rangers.


  1. What a great article and I will be certainly taking a look at this site so thanks for sharing.It may what I've looking for.

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  2. Thanks for the step by step tips! Great help for beginners like me. I tried kayak Philippines and I fell in love with it.

  3. Tom, these pictures seem like a great example of doing some unique surfing. Being able to know different ways to ride the surf sounds like it could give you more options to chose from when going to the beach. I have a friend who loves to surf and this might make for some good tips for him.


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