Learn how to Paddle Board Rough Water Reverb otherwise called ‘Clapotis’. This means waves that bounce off cliffs or walls and reverse to again bounce into oncoming waves.

Some are intimidated by the effect and try to avoid it.  With the right skills you can paddle through it with ease and confidence.

From Wikipedia –

In hydrodynamics, the clapotis (from French“lapping of water”) is a non-breaking standing wave pattern, caused for example, by the reflection of a traveling surface wave train from a near vertical shoreline like a breakwaterseawall or steep cliff.
The resulting clapotic wave does not travel horizontally, but has a fixed pattern of nodes and antinodes. These waves promote erosion at the toe of the wall, and can cause severe damage to shore structures. The term was coined in 1877 by French mathematician and physicist Joseph Valentin Boussinesq who called these waves ‘le clapotis’ meaning ‘standing waves’.
Reverb is another word for clapotis

Even More Scientific..

520 Bridge in Seattle.
In the idealized case of “full clapotis” where a purely monotonic incoming wave is completely reflected normal to a solid vertical wall, the standing wave height is twice the height of the incoming waves at a distance of one half wavelength from the wall.
In this case, the circular orbits of the water particles in the deep-water wave are converted to purely linear motion, with vertical velocities at the antinodes, and horizontal velocities at the nodes.
The standing waves alternately rise and fall in a mirror image pattern, as kinetic energy is converted to potential energy, and vice versa.

Long Story Short –

Waves hit a wall and bounce back colliding with the incoming waves creating confused waves in all directions.

Paddling in Clapotis –

The effect creates rough confused water which can be difficult to paddle in but is very good for building your skills in such conditions.Advanced paddlers find clapotis fun to paddle in. Scissor waves which are two waves colliding and sending energy upwards has been fun for kayakers for years. The effect can flip or throw a paddler  vertical or even airborne.

How to Paddle with Ease in Clapotis – 2 Tips..

 Bend you knees, stay loose then use short quick strokes (a high cadence) which acts as a brace to keep you more stable.

– Use a sweeping brace on your recovery/feather (this means hydroplaning your paddle across the surface of the water, instead of above it. This provides a ton of stability.

Advantages of Clapotis in a Race?

Don’t Go Around Reverb – Inexperienced paddlers will steer clear of the effect thus lengthening their race. Take advantage and using the techniques below, keep a straight course thus passing those that try to avoid it. It works!

Surf Reverb

Also, the little bouncy waves can create small surf glides that can push you along. Many times, I’ve found bumps in reverb to surf and help me push ahead of others around me.

Clapotis seen from Seattle’s 520 Bridge on Lake Washington – 


Rob Casey / www.salmonbaypaddle.com
rob@salmonbaypaddle.com / 206-465-7167
Seattle, WA USA

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