Thursday, December 10, 2009

How to Duck Dive a Surfboard

Hey gang,

We're back with our weekly installment of FAQs. Today's question relates to 'duck diving' - the technique surfers (on smaller boards) use to get under incoming waves while paddling out past the breakers. Duck diving ensures that you don't waste all of the swimming energy you use to paddle out by getting washed back towards the beach by an oncoming wave. It is especially useful at beach breaks or on days when waves are very frequent and you cannot paddle outside to get a clean swim. NOTE: It is difficult if not impossible to duck dive a longboard...instead you should use the 'turtle roll' technique which we will also cover in this post.

DUCK DIVING: While it may not look like it, duck diving is actually pretty tricky, and can be very hard to learn at first. We recommend practicing in small conditions (or even in a pool or flat water) at first and then moving on to bigger waves. Here are the steps involved:

1. Put your hands on the rails out in front of you and push down, as if you were doing a push up. This should sink the nose of your board underwater.
2. Keep your arms straight and lean forward to help get more of the board under the water.
3. Place a foot or a knee on the board and take a breath as you submerge your entire board underwater, just as the wave is about to roll over you. Keep your board angled downwards and lay flat. 'Scoop' or arch your board and your body under the wave.
4. Aim your head and the top of your board at the surface just behind the wave.
5. As you emerge from the water you should be in position to start paddling again.

Here is a great video to watch that demonstrates what I just attempted to explain. (Bonus: I am pretty sure the soundtrack for this video is from the N64 classic Diddy Kong Racing)

Turtle Roll All you longboarders out there who can't duckdive your sticks are going to need to learn to 'turtle roll' under waves while paddling out. Here are the steps to a turtle roll:

1. As the wave approaches, paddle towards it and roll your board over on top of you just before it reaches you.
2. Pull the board down towards you, trying to stay upright/vertical in the water with the board on top of you. This should form a "T" shape and allow you to act like an anchor.
3. Pull down and thrust your board forward through the wave by kicking against the water.
4. Once the wave has passed over you, flip your board back over, climb aboard and resume paddling!

Here is another video that will probably better illustrate my explanation. These crazy Aussies call it an 'Eskimo roll' but it is the same thing. Fast forward to 3:38 in the video.

-CRSI Tamarindo


  1. Hi, I have no technique, thus is maybe the reason why I cant duckdive a 6'8'' SuperfishXL from Seven. What is the biggest board you are able to duck dive deep enough to survive a 5' - 6' wave? And what is your weight?

    I am 6',190lbs (80kg), and struggle with the 6'8''SuperfishXL (Fiberglass, 43l volume at all).

  2. It depends on a number of factors including size, strength and technique (as well as the width, thickness, buoyancy of the board).

    I would say something like a 6'8" Superfish would probably be difficult to duckdive. I would probably turtle roll it but I guess its up to the individual.

    Try practicing in a pool before you try to dive those six footers.



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