Sandboarding in South Africa

How to Sandboard

Learning how to sandboard can be great fun. This will be a guide to get down the dune in one piece and with style. It can be as extreme as you want it to be. Start slowly and be safe before you hurl yourself down a sand dune at 60 km/h.

Your first dune

Right you are at the dune. Find your first mountain of sand. Make it a small one. Try a very small hill with a flat starting point leading onto a four or five metre slope. It is important to be able to push off the flat down the hill for your first runs.

It is best to start on a dune that is nice and smooth. Try keep your foot and head prints to a minimum. Make sure there is no glass, stones, shells and sticks on the dune.

Be very considerate to the environment. Make sure you are clear of plants and grasses and that you won’t ride into them.

Waxing a sandboard

To wax your sand board place your board base side up on the sand. Use very little wax on the board. Rub stripes of wax sparingly across the board from the bottom to the top. Rub a little on the edges of the board too.

Next we rub in and off with some sand. Make sure it is dry sand if possible. Wet sand will cause it to stick and give you a slow start. Make sure all the sticky parts of the board are rubbed down smooth. Grab a hand ful of sand and throw it across the board. If it sticks keep rubbing.

Now hold the board firmly with the base on the sand. Slide it back and forth a few times so that the board feels slippery. Now you are ready to go.

Your first run

Place your board on the flat facing downhill. Watch out if you on a slight slope your board is going to want to run away from you. Sit down on the sand and strap yourself in. Strap your ankle binding in first if you are using snowboard bindings. This will push the foot closer to the high back to keep your foot nice and tight in the binding. Standing up you are going to put your weight centered . Bend both knees then bend your back knee to slightly move your weight to the back foot. Make sure you are in the upright stance. In this stance position your board your hips and shoulders are all in one line. Your body is straight up and not bent over (bent over position). Keep your knees bent. Your body has to be directly over the board. Your head will turned towards the direction you are looking in. Your arms should be either side of your body . If you lose control of the board you are most likely not in this position. Generally you will have a little weight on the back foot but not too much. Now slide the board forward. If it’s a slight slope you will probably be moving already. As you pick up speed keep your back leg strong and keep your weight almost centerd. It will be a natural tendency to lean far back and rotate your shoulders so you are looking directly downhill. Fight this by concentrating on your hips keeping them in line with your board and push them forward to center your stance. Ride this out don’t try to turn yet. Keep going on the small hill until you feel comfortable going straight down without falling.

Going down bigger hills

Pick a bigger dune but don’t head to the very top just yet. Pick a slightly longer run than you did before. The main difference here is you are going to start on a slope which can be tricky at first. Dig a flat area which is 90 to the direction in which you will be going. Throw some dry sand on this area if you have uncovered some wet sand. You don’t want to start with this on your board. Start up from here to give you a flat area to stand from. Later on when you have practice you won’t need to do this. Now you either make a small 90 degree jump or slide your front foot round to the face downhill while you lean forward down the dune to center your weight. Now same as before ride it out until you slowdown and stop.

Side Slipping

This simple exercise is good for two things. Firstly to learn how to stop and secondly how to keep those edges up. Without knowing those two techniques you will be eating lots of sand. Start on the slope of the dune standing with your toes pointing downhill. Dig your heels in and keep your toes up. You shouldn’t be going anywhere. Now drop your toes down so that the board is almost flat. You should start to slide down hill. Slow yourself down by lifting up your toes and digging your heels in. Now try that facing up the hill with your toes dug in the sand. Lower your heels to slide backwards and lift them up to slow down. Catching that edge can make you fall real hard so get it right.


So you are riding straight now. Time to learn to stop. Get some speed on a straight run which flattens out. As you hit the flat sand you are going to slide the back leg out so that you are facing down the slope. To do this move your weight onto your front foot by pushing forward with your hips. Rotate your shoulders and hips frontside. Now Lift those toes and slide that backfoot out. When you are sliding, centre your weight onto both feet and slide evenly. This takes a bit of practice to get this right. Don’t get into the habit of using this technique for slowing down whilst riding it tends to take the wax off the base really quickly.


Now this can be a difficult one to learn. On some dunes where it is compact it is difficult and others that are soft and aerated it is easy to turn. The most important thing when turning on sand is wax conservation. You will work out how sharp you can turn depending on the sand and its condition at that particular dune. Normally on dry sand you can dig your edges in deep and turn fairly sharp and on wet sand you cant. If you turn too sharp you will wear your wax off one edge of the base and it will start to grab making it difficult to go straight. The trick is to turn small amounts on either side of the board in difficult conditions. Lets start turning. Start off by trying to turn one direction a time . start riding straight down the hill. To turn on your toe side your weight must be centered now start the turn by pushing your knees forward and lifting your heel slightly. Hold it in this position and you will start to cut across the dune. Your body position is extremely important. Stay in the upright centered position with your hips shoulders and eyes all in line with the board. With a sharp turn you will rotate your hips so that they are pointed in the direction of where you are turning and your body will lean into the turn. You body still stays upright, don’t bend your back at this point. This is a very fine movement and you don’t need to twist your body madly or slide your back foot to turn. To turn on your heel side you will ride straight. Lift your toes to bring your board onto the heel edge. Keep your weight forward. Your hips and shoulders will turn slightly to the direction of the turn. Hold it there and you will turn. When turning there is a delay as you lift your board on edge, wait for it to engage before you turn sharper. Note that your body is turning with the board so that your board shoulders and hips are all in one line.

Linking turns

When linking turns you are going to turn first to the left then the right. Start of by turning onto your toe edge. You should be turning now and leaning slightly into the turn. Drop your heal edge and lift your toes. As your heal edge starts to turn you will lean into the turn. As you turn your hips shoulders and eyes follow the direction of the board. It is important to remember that you go on to your edge first before you lean into the turn but at the same time remaining upright through the whole movement. Now that you have learn’t how to sandboard its now time to try some sandboarding tricks.

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