Wave Play at South West Rock – Peter James

A short video of Peter cavorting in the waves at South West Rocks.


There may come a time when you will find yourself in the in the surf zone.
This area will test your skills and it is quite easy to be found wanting.
A breaking wave can catch your stern and push your craft broadside.
The resultant capsize usually happens quickly.

In this shot, a wave has caught Bob, lifted his stern, and pushed the bow beneath the surface!

The stern is pushed further around and the kayak starts to capsize towards the shore.

Bob tries to correct the capsize but his head is lifted indicating that he has raised his right knee under the deck. This action is an attempt to keep Bob in the kayak but it will only contribute to the capsize.

Yep .. all over.

How to Side Surf.

  • Tuck your elbows in close to your rib cage.
  • Extend the paddle in a low brace position.
  • Edge your kayak and lean hard into the wave.

This is John in action with a sizeable wave.

The wave beaks and rapidly catches up threatening to engulf him.

John goes into a low brace position and leans hard into the wave.

John is now side surfing. The energy of the wave dissipates and John remains upright.


  • Be aware that the surf zone is a high impact area.
  • The low brace position should be your first choice.
  • The high brace is used with larger waves. It is an advanced stroke and can lead to shoulder dislocation if performed incorrectly!

Setting up for a high brace.
When executed properly, the elbows should be against the rib cage and the paddle below the head.
Raising your arms above your head will expose your shoulders and place the joints at risk.


This excellent series of images was captured by Ian Berry at Yamba, NSW.


During the recent Yamba Camp, weather conditions allowed a small group of paddlers to venture out into the surf at the beach adjacent to the southern break-wall.
It was a great opportunity to practise:
  • Surf launches
  • Surf landings
  • Low braces
  • High braces
And also to have a little fun on the waves.
Unknown to the group, Ian was positioned high on the break-wall and was able to capture some magic moments with his camera and zoom lens.
Here is a small collection.

Step 1 – The Surf Launch

Here is George, ready to party. His rudder is retracted and he has his helmet on .. Bring it on!

Bob and John easily clear the surf zone.

Some do it harder.

Step 2 – The Surf Landing

Behind the breaking waves.
The theory is to follow behind the waves

Check out the ‘Old Master’ George as he skilfully negotiates his way to the beach.

Well he took on a little water .. but a safe landing just the same!
In front of the waves.
In this case, paddlers accelerate and stay in front of the wave

Bob shows how it is done in his long boat.

He is able to hold his bow pointed toward the beach.

Edging and Bracing

It looks so easy? Well here is the problem.
If the breaking wave catches you, it will push the stern around.
At this point, you must brace, edge the kayak and allow the water to pass underneath.

Here is John in action .. complete with his Greenland Paddle.

.. and Max in a low brace position amidst the foam.

The ‘OMG’ Section

They make it all look so easy! Well it’s not!

George is finally caught by a following wave and taken to ‘new heights.’

A set up for a C to C roll.

Bob buries his bow .. “I need a shorter boat.”

Sue empties her cockpit and surveys her damaged rudder.

Max emerges from the foam .. finally!


You wonder why we submit ourselves to this pain?
Simply .. sometimes it all comes together .. and it is sooo sweet!

John with his home made outfit.

A Valley Avocet at Play.