Intentional Capsize to Avoid a Collision

The below series of photos (taken by Drew Trousdell, thanks!) is a good indication of how to avoid a collision when you’re sea kayak surfing.  Drew was confident enough to keep taking photos, rather than taking evasive action, in part because we spend so much time surfing together and have a good feel for what the other will do.

In the first photo, I’m getting sideways to the wave and realize Drew is down-wave, so I start to capsize into the wave in a high-brace.  As I go over, I’ll continue dropping my right elbow to protect my shoulder — you don’t want to leave that arm up high!

You may also notice the boat changes orientation from sideways-to-the-wave to more of a perpendicular alignment.  When you’re side-surfing (right side up or otherwise), shifting your brace toward the stern helps lock the stern into the wave more, and frees the bow to rotate with the path of the wave — I’m doing the same with my “drag” approach.

Note – you can click on the images to see the larger version.

Capsizing into the wave so I don't surf into the cameraman.

In the next series of photos, you’ll see the wave starts to take me along, and I want to avoid side surfing into Drew, so I move from a high-brace position to a diving blade angle to create more drag and hopefully let me fall off the back of the wave/foam.  It’s almost like an underwater draw — I’m hoping to create as much drag as possible.


Here's where I'm really starting to drag the paddle with a diving blade angle.

Converting the diving blade to more of a high brace recovery by dropping my left elbow and letting the paddle get back toward the surface.


Starting to roll up.