Surf Journal – Rode the Starboard 7.4 again.  I’ve got about a week or so to decide what board I want to ride for the last contest of the year here in Costa Rica.  It’s in Playa Hermosa, which is a heavy beach break, lots of barrels… and it will be in June which is our S swell season, so the likelihood of bigger surf is high.  Lots of power, hollow sections, possibility of breaking a board, means I might opt for the starboard for the contest.  Today I worked on timing more vertical turns.  Amazing how that board comes off the lip.  I think I can turn it almost as hard as a shortboard… and it’s way faster.  I wish I had a touch bigger back fin to test.  Right now I’m using an adapted AM2, which is a bit smaller than the Performer L that I have up front.  I lose a bit of drive off the bottom and it probably contributes to why I don’t like surfing it on rail so much.  But I hate it as a quad (with what I have tried) and don’t have a larger option.  My plan is to ride it for the next week and get a video session in… then review it against the Infinity… see where it’s at.

Here’s a photo from the morning on the Starboard… Weight ALL the way back trying to keep the nose out.  Just took the traction off that board, switching for an OAM Pad that Boehne gave me… that thing got so heavy.  His new pad is way lighter.


My recent posts about surf stance and race stance has prompted a number of emails and comments asking for more information on the subject…  So here it goes.  I’ve taken some (bad) photos of feet on a surfboard (it’s a shortboard, but I didn’t feel like taking fins out of a standup to get the shots… great board by the way, Tomo is on to something special).  What follows are photos of the different stances and when I use them.  Note… I’m no Danny Ching, Connor or Kalama.  I only took an interest in the paddling side of paddle surfing about a year ago and that was just to catch more waves… I’m a surfer who believes that paddle surfing is more fun on most days than surfing.  Now I do find it an art, and spend time on the craft…  Anyways, here are my best practices.

1. Parallel, Race Stance

Parallel or Race Stance
Parallel or Race Stance

In the course of my paddle surf journey, I’ve used this less than any of the others.  I find that paddling smaller boards requires the need for front/back balance and I feel very unstable while in a parallel stance.  That said, I do work on it now, and feel ok in glassy conditions.  I surf a reef break that requires a 15 minute paddle to get out to the break and my current “game” on the paddle out is parallel stance and trying to “J” stroke on my weak side.  It’s coming, but in good surf you won’t see me paddling around in this stance.

2. Semi Parallel Stance


Semi Parallel Stance
Semi Parallel Stance

What separates the semi parallel stance from my normal stance is the separation off the stringer.  It squares me up a bit more and I have more drive off of my weak side.  I am not as stable as in my normal stance, but I’m not bad either.  There is still more of a transition than I’d like to get to a surf stance, so when paddling for a wave I won’t use this stance.  But I do like the front back stability, back toes are a bit ahead of front heel.   And it is a fast way to paddle.

3.  Normal Paddling Stance

Normal Paddle Stance
Normal Paddle Stance

This is my 70% stance.  The front foot is very close to the centerline of the board and back foot is tucked under so that the heels line up.  I find the back foot, pointing out at a 45 gives you a ton of stability side-to-side and you’ve got the front back covered as well.  What is great about this stance is that you can, and I do, move my back foot a lot.  When you ride a smaller board, that sinks a bit, at times you need to get back close to your tail to keep the nose up.  If the nose goes in, you’re more likely than not to fall.  If you can keep the nose up and the paddle in the water, you can keep stable.  Also, on a smaller board the sweet spot for balance becomes smaller.  If you’re riding a 32 inch board, it’s going to be hard to control balance side-to-side with both feet on the stringer.  On a  24-26 inch board, you won’t have a problem.

4. Narrow Surf Stance 

Narrow Surf Stance
Narrow Surf Stance

I would say that I paddle into 80% of the waves I catch close to this stance.  It’s very similar to my normal paddling stance but the front foot is now pointing at your toe side rail and your back foot has dropped back 3-6 inches.  It’s very powerful paddling on your toe side rail and you’ve got a ton of stability as long as you keep your weight erring on that side, because you can always use your paddle to keep you up.  To transition to surf stance when you catch a wave, it’s just front foot back to back foot and back foot to tail.  There are places in surfing where time matters more than others…  Of of those time-critical places is the takeoff.  If you’re spending 1 or 2 seconds getting your feet right after you catch a wave, that’s time your not setting the wave up.  You’re missing speed and not drawing the lines you should be drawing.

5.  Full Surf Stance

Full Surf Stance
Full Surf Stance

I tend not to use the full surf stance unless the wave is steep and I’m pretty late.  It compromises your stroke by limiting your extension and pull.  In this stance I shorten my pull and really dig.  Cadence matters. Fast and hard.  The beauty here is that you can take off SOOOO late.  Most folks don’t realize how deep you can take off on a paddle board.  Once you get confident, you can pretty much catch a wave as it’s breaking.  Depending on how late the drop is, I’ll keep my front foot in its normal position or I’ll transition all the way back to the tail.  To make a super late drop, you’ll need to use the paddle right as you’re catching the wave to pull your nose up and keep your board horizontal, while pulling hard into the wave.  You can basically land at the bottom of the wave like a floater.


Hope that helps!


Published by Erik Antonson

Erik is the founder and host of the PaddleWoo podcast, 2X Costa Rica National SUP Surf Champion and owner of Blue Zone SUP Camps.

Join the Conversation


  1. Hi Eric,

    This article on foot placement has changed my life.I was really struggling coming from Starboard 7.7×27 to the Starboard 7.4 x25.5 and JP 7.2 x 25 as I found foot placement very critical with the smaller boards.But I’ve employed your ‘normal ‘paddle stance that allows you to trim the board in all directions and it has made all the difference.

    I’m 55 and love challenging myself and learning but had never consider this foot position which at first seems counter-intuitive but works a treat……now to play with my fin set up.

    Keep up the great work,



  2. Hi Erik,
    Sorry for being so late discovering the PaddleWoo site, however, I’m catching up quite quickly…
    I do have a few comments regarding the surf stance issue which have been bugging me for quite a while now. I’m 50 years old, have surfing background, and switched to paddle surfing 2 years ago due to serious back problems, before that I had to rest a day or two after each surfing session. Started immediately with 8.8 board and after a few months went to a smaller 8.2 (but wide at 32″) board. Been paddling in parallel stance ever since I started and your notes strike a lightning in my head. I did have issues switching from parallel to surf stance upon catching the wave, the steeper the wave the more difficult it was to start surfing. I used to switch from parallel to full surf stance by jumping, not moving one leg at a time. Started practicing a few days ago with some progress at “semi parallel stand” with my right foot across and behind the front leg but noticed an ache in my right leg muscles (mainly around the ankle and shin), my right leg is in the back. I experienced no such thing with parallel stance. The first time I tried, the conditions were windy and choppy and I had to work really hard balancing. This morning it was was glossy 3 feet and I did catch many more waves so the theory works great. Did you experience such an issue? is it just different muscles that are working when standing in semi surf stance? is my board too wide for paddling in surf stance?

    1. Hey D. Francis, Sorry for the late reply, you posted in the thick of our travels. First, have you explored Foundation Training for your back yet? If not, google Eric Goodman Foundation Training. His Ted talk is a good place to start and then watch his videos on the Founder exercise. He’s been on the podcast twice, and they’re some of my favorites. We’re hosting a joint retreat this next year.

      I started paddling in surf stance and had to learn parallel stance, so had no issues with it. I can tell you that I just dropped down to smaller boards and I’m all sorts of sore in the lower legs right now. All those little muscles firing! It’s been a few weeks since your post, any improvement?

      All the best! Erik

      1. Hi, Erik! Thanks for your reply, I will try to be brief, I started Foundation Training after I read it in your Blog, at the moment 2-3 times a week but it’s not enough, I practice also Yoga once a week.Also bought Eric’s book. Yes there is some progress with the paddling in surf stance, I came to the conclusion that There is no one-right-way on paddling, I try to build several capabilities like a tool kit and use them according to the sea conditions, how tired I am, etc. I also made an experiment of shortening my paddle (also after I read it in your blog) to my height – 5″11″, previously it was 5″ longer, and saw that it gives me more torque AND mimics somewhat the Eric Goodman exercises since I use more my core muscles to paddle and catch waves. I try to keep my back straight and noticed the same muscle group tension as in the exercises. The idea is to keep improving all the time – it’s called KAIZEN, constant improvement. I’m going to put a tape on the nose of my board and write down one goal of improvement per session, lets see how it goes! Thanks again, D.Francis.

  3. Hi Erik,
    Thanks for the great progression camp you hosted in December.

    Returning to the real-world and going through your vast knowledge base on the site here, I read it now with a better and deeper understanding.

    As you know, I’m working hard to improve my foot position which I think is key for my further progression. I have begun to angle my GoPro to record my foot positions to analyze how I’m doing after the session.

    My question to you is if you could do the same?
    I think it would be a great tool for us who follow you at a distance online to be able to compare your foot work in action with our own.

    I would be particularly interested if you could capture these moments:
    – paddling towards a wave
    – catching a wave
    – frontside riding
    – backside riding
    Preferably in smaller, weaker waves.

    Hey, you could perhaps use the mount on the SB Pro 7’4?

    1. Hey Henrik! Good to hear from you brother. I’m running a retreat this week with a small group of good intermediate surfers and the focus has been footwork. Good idea. I’ll see if we can get something out. E

  4. I came to sup’ing recently, just bought the cheap costco board and went for it. But I could never get comfortable with the parallel stance – my natural stance has my front , left foot at 11 o’clock left of the centreline and my back foot at 2 o’clock right of the centreline — weight evenly distributed. Quite a wide stance, too, relative to all I see, and gets wider (and lower) the choppier it gets. Its just where I want to be on the board.

    Is there any problem with this, should I force a parallel stance?

    I’m 55 and can go for hours in my natural stance. I find I get a lot of stability this way and can manage the chop better than almost anyone else out there in their parallel stances off of Long Point beach, in Lake Erie ontario canada. I used to be a solid snowboarder and whitewater kayaker so maybe some of this is instinct.

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