This is the last in a three part series about ocean paddling. I’m going over things I learned in my clinic with Dan Gavere. We’re covering the three pillars of ocean paddling (well, three of the many pillars, probably). Going through the acronym “PAL.” P stands for power. A stands for angle. L stands for lift.

Read part one, “Angle,” here.

Read part two, “Power,” here.

Obligatory Disclaimer

I am not a pro. I’m not even half a pro. I’m just relating some things I’ve learned to give you food for thought. If you’ve never been in the ocean before, I always highly recommend a lesson. Or, at least go with a friend who can show you the ropes, including safety.

Lift is More Than Being On the Board

I have been excited to write the “lift” part because it is not only related to how you paddle when you’re standing up, but also to safety. Lift is, essentially, the angle of the board in relation to the water. You can change that angle by moving your feet. The water also changes the angle by pushing the nose up and tail down or the tail up and the nose down.

Before you even get on your board, as you’re walking out into the water, facing the waves, you have to keep the nose of the board up out of the water so that it doesn’t get caught and pushed back onto you (if you’re standing in the wrong place) or onto the beach or people behind you (if you’re not holding on to it well). The faster you get on your board and paddling, the less time you have to control it in the surf zone, and the safer you’ll be.

When you’re paddling out–finally on the board–you need the nose up high enough to cut through the top of the wave or go over it, but then you need to immediately get the nose down so that the wave doesn’t end up pushing your board vertical and then flinging you off the back.

As you paddle into the beach you have to keep the nose up so that the board doesn’t pearl (dive toward the bottom) and catapult you off into the sand (opening a potential for broken ankles or broken necks).

Let Me Try to Illustrate This

Right here is how you’re going to understand why it would be helpful to take a clinic. I’m going to do my best with Katie’sCrappyGraphics(tm). These are pictures we took at Battle of the Paddle in 2013, which was a great place to watch the concept of “Lift” in action. Lots of going in and out of the waves, which exaggerates everything. (These concepts still apply when you’re paddling out in the ocean–where you want your feet to be on the board as related to the activity of the swells and what you’re trying to do–ride a bump, catch a bump, or simply stay on the board. It’s easier to see them in the surf zone, though.)

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(Or, above, the guy on the left could be about to fall. Who knows? But IN THEORY, once you make it up over the wave, you’ve gotta get the nose down.)

Below: The two shots are not sequential (of the same people), but they’re sequential in terms of position on the wave. You can see that the paddlers are still al little forward. Some have a surf stance while some are still in a parallel stance. They’ve just caught the wave.

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In this next picture, at they are coming into the beach, they are standing way far back, almost at the tails of their boards, to keep the noses up.

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How Does This Apply to You?

So, for me, I don’t really stand in the surf zone. I’m still not good enough and still terrified that I’ll break my neck. I DO NOTICE the principle of lift, though.

For example, if I hop on my board on my knees to paddle out and I’m too far back on it, so the nose is pointed too far up, I will be picked up and flipped backwards. Now, if I were on my feet, I could be fancy and stand back to get the nose up on top of the wave and then forward to let the wave go under me. Unless I have my angle just right, though, if I can’t get the nose slightly up over the wave as it starts to roll under me, I’ll get pushed sideways and off.

When I come in, I still get down on my knees, but I skootch way WAY far back on my board, just like the guys standing, but I’m sitting.

For #Ocean2K15, my plan is to get better at all of this while standing. . .

I’ll keep you posted.

What are your questions about lift?