Some tips on going straight:
– Keep the paddle shaft vertical when pulling parallel past the rail. If the shaft is leaning in towards you (over the board) or out at an angle away from the board, then every time you take a stroke, you’re turning the board. If you paddle with nearly straight arms (wrists stacked) using some torso rotation for power, this is easier to do. If have limp arms while paddling you may be pulling the shaft over the rail towards you.
– Make sure both feet are parallel to each other facing forward. If one foot is turned out you may be pushing down on that rail thus turning the board in that direction.
– When you put the blade in at the catch (nose) don’t follow the curve of the nose to the rail. You’ll be doing a J-stroke if you do, thus turning the board. Imagine a straight line aligned with your rail on both sides of your nose – follow that line to the rail.
– Use a loose grip on your paddle. A death grip can lead to a slight rotation of the shaft when paddling thus turning the board.
– Make sure you’re using an equal amount of power on both sides. My right side seems to overpower my left (am left handed).
– Get a paddle with a dihedral angle on the blade face (also called the power face). This slight vee or angle on the blade sheds or cuts through water as your blade goes through the water. Without this feature, you blade will flutter through the water thus not having a clean flow and may turn the board.
– You can paddle on one side on some boards usually 11′ and longer without a lot of ton of rocker. Do this by pushing one rail into the water (raising your other) so your lower foot is slightly wet. Paddle on the lower (wet) side. If the board turns, adjust your trim, (your placement between the nose and tail). Move back a few inches, try agin, or move forward til you find your sweet spot. Once it’s found, you can paddle on one in most conditions. A strong side wind above 20kts may throw this technique off. I have one side I can do this on, but seem to over power my stroke on the opposite side.
– Adjust your center fin so it is in the back of the slot (closer to the tail). This helps with tracking. Move it forward (closer to the nose) for easier turning or for surfing.
– Fins. Ohh fins, the mystery of what to get, shape, length, etc.. Not knowing the above info many feel or are told they need a bigger fin. That’ll work but try to improve your stroke first, then if nothing changes, look at fins. Longer is certainly better for tracking, but too long will add drag reducing your speed, and may get caught in weeds or kelp.