Duck diving allows you to get past breaking waves, but the bigger the board, the more difficult it is to duck dive. If you’re looking for a new surfboard, you’re likely wondering what size board you can duck dive.
The size of board you can duck dive depends on your weight, strength, and the efficiency of your technique. The more you weigh, the stronger you are, the more efficient your technique is, the bigger the board you can duck dive.
Beginner surfers often use longer, wider, and thicker boards to make paddling and balance easier. However, these boards make duck diving more challenging.
So, if you’re looking to purchase a bigger style of board and want to know if it will be possible to duck dive with it, read on to find out the duck diving details for different types of boards.
See also this post about the best sunglasses I’ve found you can actually surf (and duck dive) with – as opposed to just hanging out on the beach.
Can you duck dive a 7′ board?
It’s possible to duck dive a board between 7 feet and 7 feet 6 inches, however, it will require strength and technique to do so.
One way to accomplish a duck dive on a board this size is to push down sideways on the board’s rails with your hands and your upper body’s weight. The floatier your board, the more sideways you need to push the board into the water.
After you’ve managed to sink the front of the board as far as possible, use your feet and lower body to push the rear of the board down.
The most efficient way to accomplish this part is by essentially standing on the back of the board, placing as much pressure on the tail as possible.
Once you sink the board’s nose and tail and push the board down deep enough, hold on tight to the board as the wave rolls over you, and then pull hard on the nose to get on the upward stream of the underwater wave. If all goes well, you’ll exit the back of the wave.
Can you duck dive a funboard?
A funboard can be challenging to duck dive because they have a lot of volume in the nose and tail, making it tough to sink the board. It is still possible to duck dive a funboard, though with the right technique.
The technique is similar to the one explained in the previous section on duck diving a 7ft board. Grabbing the board by the rails, place as much pressure on the front of the board as you can to sink the nose. Then, put pressure on the back of the board to sink your tail.
Hold onto the board as the wave rolls over you and try to find an upward stream within the wave that will pop you out the back.
Can you duck dive on a foam board?
Foam boards are tough to duck dive because the foam buoyancy makes it difficult to sink the board. This is also true for Wavestorms which are also made of high buoyancy foam.
What you can do is try to sink the nose as the wave rolls towards you in an attempt to minimize the distance you get pushed back.
While pushing the wide nose down (it won’t sink very deep), try to keep the rest of the board as flat as possible to offer the least resistance to the wave as it rolls over you.
This can be an effective technique in light whitewater or smaller, unbroken waves, however, it won’t work very well in larger, more powerful waves.
Beginners who are still learning how to duck dive should think of this as good practice. For sure, it will be hard to duck dive a foam board, but when you eventually switch to a fiberglass or epoxy board, it will feel much more manageable.
Can you duck dive a fish?
A fish will generally be easier to duck dive than a funboard or foam board, although the difficulty level depends on the board’s volume and your duck diving skills.
The nose of a fish is narrower than other high-volume boards, making it easier to push under the water. Once you sink the board past the nose, though, it requires a bit more strength to sink the board’s widest part.
Once the front of the board is underwater, you need to push down with your feet for a deeper duck dive, especially in larger waves. This can be harder with a shorter fish because you have less leverage for pushing with your feet, unless you’re very short or very flexible.
Generally speaking, though, a surfer who is past the beginner stage should be able to duck dive a fish to get past medium sized or head-high waves.
Can you duck dive a mini-mal?
Mini-mals are typically 7’+ to 8′ in length with a very wide nose, wide outline, and thicker rails compared to funboards. As a result, mini-mals are quite floaty, which makes them easy to paddle and requires minimal (no pun intended) effort to catch waves on.
Duck diving on a mini-mal, especially larger ones, is generally challenging due to the volume and floatability. While it requires good technique, the “sideways duck dive” I mentioned earlier can be used effectively on a mini-mal in small to medium waves.
A caveat of using this technique on a mini-mal surfboard is that, in stronger waves, if your duck diving technique is not up to speed and you can’t push the board deep enough and early enough, the wave will typically hit your board hard (due to the sheer volume) and send you backward 20-30 feet.
If you’re not confident about sinking the min-mal deep enough before a larger wave, your best bet may be to let go with the board – first making sure no other surfer is downstream from you.
Can you duck dive on a longboard?
Most surfers are unable to duck dive a longboard because it is just too much volume for even strong and skilled surfers to push underwater. Instead of duck diving, most longboarders do the turtle roll.
As the wave is rolling towards you, hold onto your rails and keep your body flat against your board. Lean your body weight to one side of the board, causing the rail to sink and the board to flip. Stay close to the board to flip with it.
You should now be in the same position as you are when lying prone on the board, only underneath the water with the board upside down.
As the wave rolls over the bottom of your board, which is now face up above the water with you underneath it, pull on the rails as if trying to pull the board down underwater. This will sink the rails a bit deeper and anchor the longboard into the water as the wave rolls over it.
The turbulence can sometimes make the board move erratically, so be sure you keep your face away from the board while you’re underwater.
After the wave has gone past, you can flip the board over and hop back on to start paddling.
The turtle roll isn’t an easy technique to master. At first, the wave may rip the board from your hands or send you and the board dancing underwater.
The secret is in the right placement of your body underwater alongside the longboard, and in the timing and strength of the downward rail pulling.
Start practicing in whitewater and smaller waves and progressively move on to bigger ones. Over time, you’ll get more and more effective and lose a lot less ground with each wave you pass.
How much volume can you duck dive?
Can you duck dive a 40L board? 50L?
The more you weigh, the stronger you are, the more efficient your technique is, the narrower the nose and tail are, and the weaker the wave, the higher the volume you’ll be able to duck dive.
The shape of the board also plays a factor. For instance, boards that are narrower in the nose and tail will be easier to duck dive.
There is no exact science to determine how much volume a specific surfer can duck dive. The individual variables mentioned above are dynamic and unique to each surfer and wave type.
However, there’s a roundabout equation that can give you a general idea. The principle is that you should be able to duck dive around 1 liter for every 4 to 4.5 pounds of your weight, depending on your skill level.
- If you’re a beginner, divide your weight by 4.5 pounds.
- If you’re an intermediate, divide your weight by 4.25 pounds
- If you’re an expert, divide your weight by 4 pounds
For example, if you’re an intermediate surfer that weighs 175 pounds, you can reasonably duck dive a board that is around 41.18 liters. You may be able to duck dive a bit more than that, but it is a good baseline to establish where duck diving will start to become more difficult.
Don’t forget that the shape of the board will also play a factor. If we take the above example of an intermediate surfer who can duck dive around 41.18 liters we can then adjust for board shape.
If that surfer is looking at a big guy shortboard, which has a narrower nose and tail, we might be able to add a few liters onto that estimation because that shape is easier to duck dive.
On the other hand, if that same surfer was looking at a minimal or egg shape board, we might want to keep the estimate the same or even subtract a couple of liters because the additional width and volume within the nose and the tail of those boards make it more difficult to duck dive.
Additionally we need to take the size and strength of the waves into account.
The board in our example that is 41.18 will be more difficult to duck dive in bigger, more powerful waves, and will be easier in smaller, weaker waves.
In general though, duck diving a 50 liter board will require a heavier, stronger surfer with an effective technique.
Biggest surfboard you can duck dive?
It’s tough to say the biggest board you can duck dive because the limit depends on the surfer’s unique qualities.
However, we can pretty confidently assume that a board over 8’6” and 60 liters will be impossible to duck dive for most surfers. It may be possible to duck dive a slightly smaller board if the surfer is strong, heavy, and skilled.
Choosing a surfboard always involves a tradeoff between ease of paddling and catching waves (more volume), and ease of duck diving (less volume).
Of course there are many other factors at play, such as board shape as relates to your size, riding style, and the size/type of the waves you ride.
Your ability to duck dive, just like your paddling technique, is a major factor in your surf progression. With solid technique, you will greatly expand the range of surfboards you can effectively duck dive on including in bigger and faster waves.