I was paddling like crazy on the 11'2 and missing waves and my freind would catch them even with a board that is more difficult to catch waves with. (longer boards develop more speed per paddle stroke, shorter boards are more manoeuvrable.
I allways thought catching waves was about speed. Well this is true but it is not what really counts.
What I had to work out, is what other surfers have always known, you need to position yourself so that the part of the wave that contacts and lifts you has the right amount of power to get you up and moving. Too steep and you may not be able to build speed quick enough or prevent the nose from digging in, not steep enough and you will not get enough power.
For regular surfboards they need a steep face to pick them up. (they are a almost dead weight and require more wave energy to get them moving). That is why traditional short board surfing is so gutsy. For SUP you can get the wave at a more gentle angle or earlier and from further out. This is why Laird Hamilton, Robby Naish and other big wave surfers can use SUP's to get bigger rides, because, like Tow in Surfing they can catch the wave easier at a more gentle angle building speed before it turns into a sheer cliff of roaring terror, on a traditional surfboard, they would have to take the drop, Not even these guys can make a 10 story drop.
Anyway forget about Hawaii for a moment.
Even with a Stand Up Paddle Board, it still takes a little skill to pick the right spot and trim the board. Trimming the board is matching the flat bottom of the board to the angle of the wave surface that is passing beneath your feet.
This is what the good surfers are doing, they look at how the wave is shaping up and take a stroke or two to get themselves in the right spot, then the wave does the work and they can focus on shifting their weight forward or back to get initial speed and balance.
While teaching a friend of mine to ride the local Mush, I noticed that some times I would glide-on easy with great speed and sometimes I would paddle like crazy and go nowhere. It was all about position and trimming the board as you start to move. While I was paddling, I could not concentrate on trimming the board.
You will have much better balance, go faster more easily and catch more waves if you know how to Paddle with Power
2-Stroke Training Method.
* Pick your wave, watch where it will be steepest, (ie most forward drive)
* Stand one foot forward and one back as well as across the board, Take one deep Paddle towards shore but angling to get closer to that spot. (this stroke breaks your board free from the water and starts it moving).
* Your next stroke is for final positioning and adding speed.
* Now you stop paddling and concentrate on getting the board trimmed right. Lean forward to match the boards bottom planing surface to the surface of the wave. Get low, for balance and also pay attention to how you are weighting the rails. (side to side balance, the board will move faster when it is flat on the water). Your upper body has a lot of weight, by leaning low and forward over your front foot you will angle the board down the wave. If the nose starts to dive, shift your weight back to centre, as the board gains speed you can shift more weight over the back foot.
What often happens when we paddle that third or fourth extra stroke, is we are not paying attention to the boards trim, which will produce more power, (by using wave energy) than the extra stroke would.
Some places and wave shapes, will need many more strokes.
The point is that, if you pay attention to the position and the trim of the board, and pick the right part of the wave you will get more rides .