Thursday, June 27, 2013

Making the Board Move

When we take our board to the water we are usually trying to get somewhere (unless it's a yoga session).  It could be out to a surf break, a favorite fishing spot, a hidden cove, or the next bend in the river.  In order to get the board (and ourselves) where we want to go, we use our paddle.  We plant the blade of our paddle into the water and pull ourselves (and our board as we are standing on it) past our blade.  Sounds simple doesn't it?  It doesn't always look simple though, sometimes it looks very complicated.  Just take a look at Danny Ching doing a buoy turn while racing, Dan Gavere executing an eddy turn in whitewater, Zane Schweitzer doing a 360 in the waves, and Dave Kalama linking bumps on a downwinder.  What they are able to do with a high degree of expertise is make the board do what they want it to do at exactly the right moment.  It's that simple. Really, it's that simple.  There are a finite number of things a board can do:
  • sit still
  • sink a rail, nose, tail
  • move forward and backward
  • move right or left
  • spin clockwise or counterclockwise
What's really important here is how we link these actions together using our weight transfers and paddle strokes while at the same time, we have to also be aware of how the water and wind conditions impact these actions.  Let's say I'm on a downwind run and I see few little bumps right ahead of me.  I increase my cadence to catch up to the bump using short, rapid strokes.  I shuffle my feet forward to put a little more weight on the front of the board and I feel the board accelerate down the face of the bump, now my weight is too far forward and nose starts to pearl, I have to quickly get weight off the nose and back on the tail so I take a big step back with my right foot and stop paddling.  I now have good trim on the bump and I drag my paddle for stability and to help me turn the board a bit.  By now, the bump is starting to pass me by so I move forward again in hopes of catching the bump that was right behind that one.  All of this happens rather quickly but if I pay attention and I'm not too winded, perhaps I can link two or three of these bumps together for a long and really fun ride!

To catch these bumps, I just sink the nose a bit, make the board go forward quickly using short rapid-fire strokes, then put some weight on the tail to ride the bump.  That's it, and if I can do this a few times during a run, I am smiling and laughing like a little kid.  I'm smiling now just thinking about it.

Hat tip to the ACA and Robin Pope for this great article about teaching tips for kayaking.  Take the time to read the whole article here.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

February 12th!!

Oh boy, I just checked out the ole blog and see that I've been slacking.  It's tough these days what with email, Face Book, smart phones, work, the commute, family and all that stuff.  Enough excuses, I'm going to get busy on this blog thing once again.  I have a few stories to write up along with some videos and pictures. I'm going to talk about all sorts of stuff like:

  • Meet Up Groups
  • Downwinders on Tomales Bay
  • Downwinders on Maui's North Shore
  • New gear
  • Old gear
  • Fins!
  • Rescue scenarios
  • Bunch of other stuff
I've been paddling a lot lately and having loads of fun.  I'm continually learning new things about where I paddle, and how I paddle.  I'm working on being a better instructor too.

ps - The Adidas watershoes are holding up great!  

(obligatory blog post pic below)