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Some eddy serviced waves you can paddle onto without barely a paddle stroke. Others take a lot of effort and finesse to work across a current for a sweet surf. While eddy serviced surfing is certainly a luxury, some surf spots have unique idiosyncrasies that, depending on water level, can make getting on a wave more or less challenging. Here are a few tips that can be generally applied to all surf waves.

1. Look where you want to go
Just like pretty much any thing else- driving, skiing, mountain biking…ahh walking even. Turning your head affects your body and will help you get there.

2. Paddle to the wave, not upstream.
Sure you need to work against the current a bit, or maybe even a lot, to avoid being flushed downstream, but don’t play the hamster on the treadmill game. Generally your goal is to move over not up, so paddle towards your objective.

3. Keep your boat hull still.
If it lurches all over the place it will not move smoothly over the water. Your strokes should be strong but not necessarily fast. Use your core and full torso rotation to make every stroke count and really think about the separation of upper and lower body so that your lower body can stay still and the hull can maintain its speed. Don’t let your paddling form go out the window just because you are paddling hard against the current.
That said you should still make micro adjustments to your hull soo….

4. Fine-tune your boat control side to side and fore and aft.
Depending on the features you have to pass through it may be advantageous to weight the bow or stern or drop and edge here and there. For example: Is there a boil that keeps trying to suck down your bow? As you pass that point lift your knees towards your nose slightly to pull the bow up a little bit and prevent purling. Remember this is a small motion and you do not want to catch your stern by going too far in the other direction. Once past the boil resume a centered position. Are you on the shoulder of the wave to surfers right but cannot quite get down in the trough? Drop your left knee/edge to slide down and over. Just be ready to straighten out again once you make it to the trough to avoid surfing all the way across and out the other side. The same can be said if you are high on the foam pile and about to be flushed downstream- put your weight forward by leaning forward slightly and reaching towards your toes.

5. Use the features en route to the wave to your advantage.
Is there a small lateral wave you can surf over? Or a micro eddy that can help you maintain height as you cross the downstream moving current? Perhaps the wave pulses and is more retentive during certain moments than others. Ferry onto the wave when it is most retentive. As obvious as it sounds: read the water! Work with the river not against it.

And one bonus thought: If you are tired or frustrated- take a break! It will never get easier to get on a wave if you just keep wearing yourself down. Be nice to yourself, pause, then get back out, try again and have fun.