Like most kayakers I’m always trying to improve and learn new skills for my surfing. From when I first started kayaking and wanted to learn how to paddle further, then I learned how to double pump, cartwheel and loop, how to top turn and how to barrel roll, spending sessions at the beach trying to do a new trick and landing upside down and knocked about by the waves. Sometimes making progress can happen after spending a few sessions working on something new, and other times, it is the product of years of smaller steps building up to it.
Every time I get on the water, I want to enjoy surfing and progress my skills. I try to do the moves I’m confident at bigger and better. When surfing the green face of the wave, this means trying to turn the boat higher on the face and closer to the pocket of the wave to maintain more speed. Above the wave, I’m trying to gain bigger amplitude, turn the boat faster and move more precisely. I also try and dedicate time to trying new moves, or to improve the consistency of more recently learned tricks.
Over the past few years I’ve used lots of different methods to do this, from coaching, self-coaching through video analysis, even writing cues on my arms before getting in the water and I have supplemented this through fitness training to improve my strength and aerobic fitness by doing gym sessions, flatwater and crossing training with other spots. I do specific competition training leading up to events to support this where I spend time working on mock heats to out manoeuvre each other, scoring my waves across a 20 minute heat and sprinting out through waves to catch a second wave to quickly try and simulate the end of a heat.
In my own surfing, I’m currently working on regaining the flow of my surfing in the moments between manoeuvres which I’ve struggled to maintain due to less time on water while studying. I’ve also been spending sessions working on trying to increase my airtime and add more consistency and inversion of the kayak when above the lip. I’m hoping to work on flow more by finding some longer waves that will give me more opportunity to do a variety of turns with a focus on selecting the most suitable turn for each section and maintaining the speed and flow of the kayak. I’m also looking for some steep, explosive waves that will provide plenty of opportunity for airtime, and plenty of wipeouts along the way.
I’ve always been motivated to improve for improvements sake, but seeing other surfers I admire online, at competitions have definitely helped along the way. This is especially true when the conditions are worse than desired. Improving your paddling is a natural result of spending more time surfing but spending some of that time working on specific goals is an even better way of achieving this. Even surfing new spots will improve your ability to read the waves and make your surfing more adaptable.