SUP Technique: Faster Starts on the Water

Hey TotalSUP readers! It’s Robert Norman AKA SUPerman here with another paddle tip! Water starts are a prominent feature in SUP races. Two easy tips to get ahead of the crowd in your next race or your next friendly sprint with a friend.

In the first clip, I take three full strokes then switch sides. This is the mistake. In the first 10 seconds of a race the difference between being stuck behind people and breaking away is how many strokes per side you can manage. Line up your board to prepare for 15-20 strokes on one side, you’ll immediately pull ahead of anyone who switches early or often. I usually try to switch side once I am clear of any racers at a race.


Second tip is to increase your stroke speed. You don’t want to take one long herculean stroke as your first stroke, it seems to be more efficient to take a shorter stroke more often to accelerate THEN lengthen it back to a race stroke. In clip one my first three strokes are sluggish before the board gets moving and in clip two there is much more intensity to get going.

Shortening your stroke length will help get that initial momentum forward a little quicker, I personally cut my reach and exit and only focus on the power phase. Once the board is gliding I’ll go right to my race pace and ease into a long distance speed. I also choke down which you don’t necessarily need to do either!

Thanks for reading! Through TotalSUP I am offering online coaching that includes a video analysis of your stroke and a workout plan for 25$ if you are interested please contact me at

About the Author

Mathieu Astier

Mathieu is the hyper-active founder of TotalSUP and a multilingual online marketing veteran with more than 20 years of experience working for top international internet companies. His love-at-first-sight for Stand Up Paddling in 2013 led him to build one of the leading online media dedicated to SUP in English and French and to turn his family lifestyle towards the ocean.

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