Big Wave Paddle in Surfing

Big wave surfing is the ultimate test for all surfers, challenging yourself against the might of the raw ocean under the power of only your arms. 

Long had been tradition for surfers to paddle into big waves under their own power before the advent of the jet ski which has helped the sport conquer new territory.  Waves that were previously conceived unsurfable, wave sizes previously only imaginable.  Now, where possible, the focus has gone back to paddle and testing the courage of even the most hardened waterman to throw themselves over the ledge of big waves.  Big wave surfing will be one discipline of the Ultimate Waterman event not to be missed.

Connor Baxter OC TUW2016SS (1)

Waka ama / OC1

Waka are Pacific watercraft, usually canoes ranging in size from small, unornamented canoes (waka tīwai) used for fishing and river travel, to large decorated war canoes (waka taua) up to 40 metres (130 ft) long.

Waka ama is the New Zealand term for the sport of outrigger canoeing. Waka ama have been used in the Pacific Islands for centuries, but were rare in New Zealand by the time Europeans arrived. Waka ama is one of the fastest growing sports in New Zealand and has several disciplines in regards to boat size and number of paddlers.  The Ultimate Waterman event will have an endurance race for single man waka within the Hauraki Gulf.


The longboard is primarily a single-finned surfboard with large rounded nose and length of 9ft plus.

Noseriders are a class of longboards which enable the rider to walk to the tip and nose ride. These are also called “Mals”, a shortened form of “Malibu boards”.
Longboard surfing is carried out on surfboards over 9ft in length.  The longer boards require a more traditional approach to riding waves and the discipline can be related back to the origins of surfing in Hawaii.  Surfing on a longboard requires surfers to walk the board and complete manoeuvres that would otherwise not be completed on a shortboard.

The eight athletes competing in the 2016 Ultimate Waterman event, being held in New Zealand, spent today the 19 March  participating in the Longboard Surfing discipline, event 5 of 7 held at Aucklands West Coast Beach of North Piha. Hawaii's Zane Schweitzer won the event by 0.1 of a point over Kiwi and 2015 Champion Daniel Kereopa. Zane now takes the lead in the overall standings.
Daniel Kereopa SB TUW2016CS (3)-001


A shortboard is the most common equipment used in the sport of surfing. Surfboards are relatively light, but are strong enough to support an individual standing on them while riding a wave.

Surfers ride shortboards generally ranging from under 6ft through to over 7ft depending on a surfers ability and weight/height.  The small boards allow surfers to complete high-performance manoeuvres in critical parts of the wave.

Stand-up paddle

Stand up paddle surfing and stand up paddle boarding (SUP), (Hoe he’e nalu in the Hawaiian language) are sports originating in Hawaii as an off-shoot of surfing.

They enable surfers to paddle farther into the ocean than is typical or to paddle standing up as a sport unto itself. A 2013 report called it the outdoor sporting activity with the most first-time participants of any in the United States that year. Paddlers race on lakes, large rivers and canals, ride breaking waves, and glide over long distances along sea coasts, often using tail winds to aid the trip.

Caio Vaz SS TUW2016CS-001
TUW_Connor (2 of 4)

SUP endurance

Using slightly modified stand up paddle boards, SUP riders race over long distances.  At time races are held between islands and long stretches of ocean.

In endurance racing, stand up paddleboards are used to race long distances, generally downwind where they have the ability to catch and ride unbroken ocean waves to help them get from A to B.  The Ultimate Waterman event will have a 15km endurance race with several course options depending on wind direction during the day of racing.

Underwater Strength Run and Swim

The Underwater strength run and swim is a test power and endurance.  Athletes will jump into the water, grab their 2x 25kg weights, hold their breath for 40 seconds in the 1m start zone and then proceed to run 20m along the bottom of the pool, lace the weights on a mat and swim back to the other side of the pool.

The goal is not to come to the surface for a breath. If an athlete needs air, they simply place the weights on the bottom of the pool, breathe on the surface and then go down again until they get their weights into the 1m zone. A three second penalty will apply if the athlete does not place the weights into the 1m zone. Athletes then freestyle sprint swim the 20m back to the other side of the pool.

Zane Schweitzer USRS TUW2016CS (2)-001
Mark and Connor PP TUW2016SS

Prone Paddleboarding

If you are looking for an endurance workout on the water, an alternative to swimming or a way to improve your surfing, prone paddling is a great choice.

Prone Paddleboarding is carried out on either your stomach or knees and on a variety of boards ranging from 10’6” up to 16’ depending on distances you are paddling.  In The Ultimate Waterman, athletes will use 10’6” boards.  Starting on the shoreline, athletes will pick up their boards and race in to the line-up paddling out through the waves on a 1.5km course, completing three laps.  Waves can be your friend or foe making the race an exciting spectacle when paddlers either get hit by waves heading out or wipe out coming in. Good technique is essential. Prone paddleboarding is one of those sports where it seems really easy but very small changes in technique can make a huge difference in speed and efficiency.