– Make sure you paddle shaft is vertical during your forward stroke. This means your upper hand will be over the water and/or your wrists are stacked. If your shaft angles over your board (very common) you’re doing a slight sweep stroke thus turning the board. Have a friend follow you from behind to see if your shaft is vertical.
– Many curve their paddle blade around the curve of the nose on the catch. This is a J stroke as you’re creating outward pressure to draw the blade to towards you. Instead, imagine a straight line from your feet (parallel to the rail) that leads directly towards your (board) nose. When you take a stroke with your vertical paddle, draw the blade straight down towards your feet. If it curves at all, you’ll turn the board.
– Look where you’re going. As a drivers Ed teacher told me in 1985, if you look at the at dog out the window, you’ll drive there If you watch where you’re going, your body will take you there. If you watch your paddle, you’ll go in the direction you’re facing. Use this technique to assist our turns too – instead looking where you want to go – or not looking at an obstruction you don’t want to hit. At Deception Pass or on a river, when crossing current, watch your destination – the board will take you there.
If you’re doing all the above and you’re still turning, a few misc tips..
– Get a bigger fin. Larry Allison’s Gladiator and Ninja fins will do the job (they’re big).
– Take the paddle out at your feet during the forward stroke. Going beyond rotates your body thus turning the board.
– Loosen grip on your paddle. A death grip may rotate the paddle shaft during your stroke.
– If you have a 6-9′ board with a lot of rocker you may have to do all of above to keep it straight.