Guide to Ocean Freestyle


Living in a small costal town in New Zealand, it’s a decent drive to a good whitewater river, but luckily being a coastal town I’m surrounded by the great Pacific Ocean and sandy beaches. The water may be saltier and the waves are moving but there is still soo much fun to be had.

Ever since I started kayaking I have been making the most of my local Kakanui Beach. Waves of all varieties, sandy beach, beautiful views, friendly locals, excited tourists and curious wildlife that could never let you get over the place!


Kakanui is where I got my first combat roll 5 years ago and learnt to edge and spin my boat. Since then it has also helped me to progress on more moves and skills, but of course with a lot of good crashes along the way. I have been going to the beach as often as I can since returning to NZ this year and feeling more confident than ever in the surf.

Ocean waves are of course different to river waves as rather than being stationary, they are continuous, and ocean waves have one big break at the start of them and then flow in a foamy mess shrinking all the way into shore. This gives the opportunity for one big trick down the green face as it crashes and then an abundance of smaller tricks in the foam pile as you roll into shore before beginning the paddle back out behind the break.
It also offers the opportunity to work on downriver tricks like wave wheels, macho moves, kick flips and boofs over the peaks of the waves as you paddle out.


Now the hard part about ocean surfing is paddling out to the back of the break so you can relax and catch the ‘big ones’!
I have learnt myself through trial and era, but to save you all the efforts and beat downs, here are some quick tips…DCIM100GOPRO

The best time to paddle back out is in-between the series as there will be less and smaller waves to battle your way through. Of course this is not always a easy green road either, so here is what to do when faced with the oncoming waves…
When a big foamy wave is coming at you, the best way to make it past is to take a big boof stroke, right as you are about to make contact with it.
I like to put my boat on a slight angle and lift my feet over the foam pile by taking the boof stroke on my outside blade followed by a big power stroke catching the green water behind the foam pile to help pull myself over and not get dragged back in the whitewash. You will know when you get it right as you will just bounce right up and over the big salty foam pile that looked like it was going to eat you, and you can carry on to the next one.

However, if you are paddling out and you can see that you are not going to make it over the next peak before it crashes you have two options…
1. Stop Paddling and wait for the wave to break then boof over it as described above.
2. Attempt to keep charging over it anyways. It will most likely crash right as you hit the peak and dump you down into the pit, potentially tossing you around, slamming you to the ocean floor, taking your paddle and/or imploding your deck.
It’s up to you which option you choose here (both are fun, but one results in you making it out back to the good waves sooner, the other can end at the audiologist getting sand grit cleaned out of your ears).

So now that you know how to get out back, what’s the trick to catching and throwing down on the big waves rather than getting beat down?


Out back the waves are bigger and start off greener. Depending on the swell they can sometimes roll longer than other conditions. The key is to have pre momentum, so as the green rolling wave is coming towards you, you must create as much speed as you can towards shore as well so that once it does reach you, the change in speed will be less and you will be more likely for it to catch you and begin surfing you.
Once it does start to catch you it will normally dump quite quickly. I like to put my boat on a slight angle when this happens so that I don’t just drop my nose and initiate a beat down. Instead this will help you keep your nose up as you drop down the face to do as you like.
You can drop down on a hard edge to initiate some bounce and aerial action that you can throw into a blunt, pan am, airscrew or anything your heart desires.

After the pile breaks you will find it hard to initiate that same air but you will have a big foam pile behind you to keep you retentive in any trick you wish to perform.

Now that you have ridden your first big wave in, spin around and work you way back out again! Keep continuing on repeat until your spent then go chill out on the beach!

It’s always important to remember to be respectful of the other people at the beach, so here are a few rules…
1. Don’t paddle out in the oncoming path of other wave surfers
2. Don’t be greedy and catch every wave because you have more speed than other crafts
3. Always watch for people further in as you are surfing as not to hit them
4. If someone else is closer than you to the breaking part of the wave then they have right of wave, so let them have it and just wait for the next one
5. Always wear sunscreen
6. Be the happiest friendliest person you can be and have a good time!

Have fun in the surf, sun and sand!



Courtney Kerin

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