In my first year of SUP’ing I gained a few scars on my shin when my fin hit submerged logs, an old pier piling, and a thick bunch of kelp. If you’re new to paddling – when you’re going full speed and your fin hits something underneath – you face plant. In my case, I not only hit the board but also slid off the board and also hit the object below. Ouch. In time I learned to adjust my angle to avoid such collisions. Even to this day when I paddle in shallow water, I cringe when I see a rock just below the surface or a kelp forest. The kayaking stroke called a “dufek” is a great technique for moving the board sideways while moving.

Last summer I bought a pair of Pro Tech rubber fins from a local rep I work with. While they look flimsy, I found I was still able to track well, even during a race.

They’re also helpful in surfing shallow beach break where I can surf into very a few inches of water without worrying about hitting the bottom or damaging the fin box. In larger surf I haven’t noticed any loss of control.

Many prefer rubber and plastic fins for river paddling as most rivers are shallow and fins can be a problem in boulder gardens and shallow areas.

Kelp Beds and Milfoil:
Yesterday I paddled the Strait of Juan de Fuca near where we surfing WA State. The Strait is lined with miles of kelp beds sometimes 300 yards wide. I had to cross one of these sections to get to a rocky point of interest. Normally with a hard fin I’d be in trouble with catching the fin whether paddling forward or even more so backyards. The rubber fin skipped over the kelp never catching once. I use a coiled leash in these coastal environments where there’s only small surf. The coiled leash stays on the board and doesn’t catch obstructions below.

Check out our SUP classes in Seattle – Beginning to advanced instruction including freighter and tug wave surfing, coastal surfing, rivers and racing, plus PSUPA Certification.

Salmon Bay Paddle SUP Tips