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Photo: Haley Nixon from remount technique video (notice she holds her paddle with the hand that she places on the front near side - this is an alternative to the more common paddle in back hand technique Oscar Chalupsky teaches)

To be safe you must be able to remount in all conditions. If you are new to surfsking start practicing in flat water close to shore. When you've mastered remounting on both sides of your ski, start slowly progressing to rougher waters (but avoiding wind blowing you away from shore until you are quite competent). A solid remount will increase your safety AND reduce your fear in big conditions enabling you to paddle with more confidence and catch more waves. Once you've got a great remount keep practicing by occasionally flipping on purpose.

Remounts and wrist leashes
Notice that in all of the techniques described or demonstrated on this page, the paddle is held with only one hand. If you choose to use a paddle to wrist leash - that may impede your ability to remount from both sides using the same remount technique unless you use a quick release with your wrist leash. That would then allow you to let go of your paddle on your leashed wrist side when necessary, but doesn't that kind of diminish the insurance of a paddle leash? You can turn or flip your ski to accomodate the side you need to be on, but that can be difficult and a fair amount of work in rough water. Or as an alternative you could learn both front hand and back hand paddle holding techniques for remount so you can always hold on with your leashed hand and place that hand front or back depending on which side you are remounting from. Or consider using a PFD to paddle leash as another option. Or experiment with a wrist leash that is long enough to not interfere (coiled?) with either side remounts while not being so long that it introduces other tangling problems (see this remount in video)

Important Points

Some or even much of this advice is not completely necessary in calmer conditions (such as mounting on the upwind side or paddling before you set your feet), but each of these points becomes more and more critical as conditions get rougher:

  1. * Know how to remount the surfski you will be paddling * - surfskis can demonstrate significant differences in ease of remount and some may actually be easier to remount using different technique. Make sure you have your remount technique wired for the particular surfski you will be paddling when you venture into rougher conditions.
  2. Be Familiar and Practiced with Everything In Your Setup - your gear setup, leash, stowed items in your lifejacket, etc. all should be familiar just like your surfski needs to be familiar. If you change anything, then you need to practice with the changes and test them, so you are comfortable and know that you have not introduced problems that will interfere with efficient and successful remounts. Example: youtube video unexpected interference
    1. Beware anything around your surfski seat that can catch, trap, or scrape you. These may cause problems while you are falling out of your ski or when you are trying to get back in. Examples:
      1. If you make your footstrap too tight or change to thicker shoes for a paddle, you may find that your feet can get stuck when you fall out of your surfski and be surprisingly difficult to extract.
      2. Surfski rigid side handles can create injury risk, particularly in rough conditions if you accidentally slip your fingers into the gap between a handle and the ski. We know of at least one paddler who accidentally got a hand stuck in this gap while trying to remount and had his ski flip over his head while his fingers were stuck in this awkward position.
  3. In Rough Conditions - Align yourself on upwind side before trying to remount
  4. Once you are aligned correctly, if you find your leash wrapped around your surfski???
    • One solution is to roll your ski once in the direction that unwraps the leash. Controlling such a roll and keeping your grip on your ski can be difficult to impossible depending on your strength and how rough the conditions are.
    • But we do not recommend the alternative of unleashing to undo the leash wrap in conditions that are rough enough to blow your ski away from you.
    • If you can't get yourself unwrapped, just get in your ski and paddle with the leash wrapped around the boat (assuming the leash is long enough to allow) until you get to safety. (does this give you the idea that maybe you want to do a calm water test getting into your ski and confirming that your leash is long enough to allow you to sit and paddle with the leash wrapped around your ski? - test being wrapped in either direction)
  5. Take your time - try to relax and not hurry, you are more likely to miss your remount if you hurry which will tire you more quickly and can make subsequent attempts more difficult
  6. Keep your head down as much as possible - in rougher water it may help to first kick your feet and get them closer to the surface, then as you elevate your torso onto your boat keep your center of gravity low and more stable - get your upper body up out of the water and across the surfski first, (you can pause here if needed or helpful) then when ready rotate your rear into the bucket, rather than lifting your torso up out of the water above your rear all at once.
  7. Get you butt in the bucket but leave your feet in the water - once again, in rougher conditions this is important, for greater stability keep your feet out in the water, (Oscar C.'s technique is to keep them on the same side before you start to paddle) until you have your paddle in position and are ready to paddle
  8. Start to paddle before you put your feet in the surfski one at a time - once you are seated, it helps to start paddling both for greater stability and to go ahead and get your surfski turning or fully turned in the direction you intend to go (in rough conditions you may not be able to turn much until you get feet on your pedals)…. When you are ready take a stroke on the side your feet are on and swing the leg closer to your bow into your boat, then take one or more strokes and when ready swing your second leg in at the same time you are taking another stroke. You can reasonably do all of this more rapidly in benign conditions, but when it is rough it is important to take your time and be as deliberate and careful as required.

Richard Forbes on Miller's Run Forgetting Recommendation #2


So you have a bomb proof remount. Are you ready for all paddling conditions?

  • If you are just taking care of yourself - No , not unless you can paddle well enough in those conditions to dependably get to shore upright while requiring a limited number of additional remounts
  • Before you have exhausted your ability to remount in rough conditions, consider adopting some strategy that will allow you to cover distance upright and get to safety or get rescued.
    • Paddle while keeping your legs out in the water - slower but much more stable
    • If you are paddling in cold water, you need to decide to call for rescue - phone, VHF, DSC ??? before you get to the point you cannot operate whatever communication device in question - i.e. while you are still sharp and/or you hands and fingers still work. Mental fog from hypothermia can cloud your judgement on when you need to make the call, and your hands can rapidly lose the ability to operate communication devices even if you only want to press the red DSC distress button on your VHF radio.
  • If anyone else is depending on you for help, then your paddling skill and experience needs to be considerably more advanced than just being able to paddle your own surfski to safety.

Which is Better? Paddle in Front Hand or Back Hand?

We don't know which is better for you. Paddle in “back” hand parallel to ski and holding onto far side of ski is demonstrated and taught by Oscar Chalupsky and is very probably the most commonly used. But some very good, experienced surfskiers use and teach the other technique. Some speculate that the paddle in “front” hand perpendicular to ski approach lends itself to the paddle getting hit by waves in rough conditions. Maybe - we'd like to hear about that from folks who use that remount technique. We do know from experience that the paddle in back hand, parallel to ski, technique is not immune to one blade or the other getting caught by waves then diving, sometimes rotating until you can no longer hold onto the paddle. You may have to test these techniques and determine which works better for you or learn both which may solve the paddle in the wrong hand problem if you use a wrist leash.


Notice in the following videos - in 3 out of 4 the hand closer to the front of the surfski is closer to the inside or holding onto the inside edge (closer to the paddler) of the surfski while the hand closer to the back of the surfski is holding onto the side away from the paddler. The exception is the Maliko video where both hands are on or close to the outside, but the paddler's weight is balanced across the surfski by the paddler having their forearm of the arm holding the paddle actually lain across the front of the cockpit and pressing on the closer side of the surfski. The technique that you choose may work better depending on your strength and body type, but whichever way you do it, you want to have it wired for all conditions you will paddle in.

Remount with paddle on far side of surfski (paddle held with "back" hand - hand closer to stern)



Remount with paddle across surfski (paddle held with "front" hand - hand closer to bow)

Multiple remounts shown. He admits he makes mistakes and has subsequently updated his technique - read the description and comments.




Oscar shows remount in rough conditions

Danielle McKenzie shows basic remount from another angle

Remount Humor

  • Extreme Cold Water Remount Technique - this is in Swedish and is purely for humor wink. But we are deadly serious about everyone needing to have a bombproof remount.
remount.txt · Last modified: 2023/10/09 11:41 by preavley