I take the "slow and steady win's the race" strategy. I paddle at a steady pace, until I see a window between sets that I think I can sprint through. I try to just keep making progress without wearing out the arms....as soon as I see the opening to the outside, I sprint the final stretch.
I rarely surf when theres more then 2 of my friends around. Sometimes i just have to ditch the longboard or shot.....BUT i hold the leash at the very beginning at the velcro and and bring it down with me.. it doesnt go flailing around. But if im alone.. i let that shiit go flying behind me!!
A technique flaw that's hard to break in duckdiving that I figured out not too long ago is that you really need to get your body flush with your board when you go into the actual "going underneath the wave" step of it. It's hard to realize that you're not doing it right however, so next time you're duckdiving, take note of whether or not your bum is getting you sucked back... that means you need to push that bum flat and get it nice and close to your board... it's pretty much a pelvic thrust, don't worry, only the fishes will see you do it.
Duckdiving can be enjoyable when you successfully evade the turbulence and calmly float back up, it's like your personal mini zen.