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.

Comments are closed.