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Playboating - Wave Surfing Basics

Learn some basic playboating moves. In this video, Eric Jackson demonstrates and explains how to control your boat with no paddle, clean spin, and roundhouse to take your wave surfing to the next level.

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Control Your Boat With No Paddle

Let's start with the front surf. Get your boat in a front surf with the boat nice and flat. It should stay straight. Try dropping your left edge slightly. What's going to happen is the boat is going to carve to the left. If you drop the right edge before you get too far out of control, the bow will turn back to the right. You essentially have a little bit of a window of opportunity where you can control the boat without a paddle. If you turn too much, the boat will spin out on you, and a lean will not bring the boat back.

Clean Spins

Clean spinning is a critical move because it really gives you the feel for releasing the boat or letting the boat slide sideways on a wave. Let's first practice your 360s linked together. You spin front to back and back to front all in one motion. It's the same technique you've used before for spinning, but this time you're not going to pause in the back surf. Now the feeling you're looking for is the boat releasing and sliding sideways on the wave. Once you can do that, you're ready to clean it. The key to getting the stern to come around and end up in a front surf again without your paddle is your body and boat leans. You do the hard front sweep to get a lot of spin momentum to spin from front to back, and soon as your boat is backwards, a slight lean backwards and a slight lean on your downstream edge will allow the bow to release and fall back into a front surf. With a little bit of practice you'll find that you can do a clean spin just as quickly and as effectively as a normal 360 with your paddle. It just so happens that cleaning the bow is the same as cleaning the stern. All you need is a lot of spin momentum, and in this case, you need to remember to lean forward slightly to let the bow drag downstream and the stern to slide upstream. On certain waves, you can spin indefinitely without your paddle, just with the boat and body leans.


The round house is simply a spin against the grain of the river, meaning if you're pointed right on a wave, a round house is a quick spin from front to back but turning left. The round house is prerequisite for the blunt. Number one - you need to learn to maneuver around the wave with more control. To succeed in the roundhouse, practice carving more aggressively back and forth. Especially practice harder carving strokes and more aggressive edging. Once you're comfortable with aggressive carving, you're ready to start the roundhouse.

First pick your target. Your target is on either shoulder of the wave. If the wave is diagonal then the shoulder is the most upstream side of the wave. Carve to the corner of the wave and then do an aggressive cut back, but this time keep on back sweeping and finish off with a spin from front to back. If you're cutting to the right for example, you start an aggressive cut back, and as soon as your boat is pointed straight upstream or 12 o'clock to the current, that's when you apply power to the stroke and also put weight on your bow just like with a spin.

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