Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Downwind SUP Skills

When we learn to paddle SUP, we usually start in calm water in a protected area away from wind, waves, current, and boat traffic.  As we progress, many of us venture out into rougher conditions or environments that are wildly different from where we first learned to paddle. Sometimes, we find a certain aspect of SUP that we gravitate towards.  For me, that has been downwind SUP.  I love downwind paddling because I think it combines the best elements of touring, racing, and surfing.

Skills in one area of SUP transfer to other areas of SUP paddling.  A low brace on the river is really no different than a low brace in the surf.  A pivot turn in a race is no different than a pivot turn in the surf.  This skill set overlap is why I think downwind paddling is the most fun and most rewarding.

From racing, we take the following:

  • Fitness (both aerobic and anaerobic)
  • Stroke technique
  • Stroke efficiency
  • Turning skills
  • Pacing
  • Reading the water

From touring, we take the following:

  • Weather forecasting and awareness
  • Trip planning and shuttling
  • Endurance
  • Self-reliance

From surfing, we take the following:

  • Board control skills
  • Paddle control skills
  • Bracing skills
  • Turning skills
  • Venue awareness
Where these skill sets overlap, we find DOWNWIND paddling.  It's not just paddling with the wind at your back, it's open water surfing, and a lot more!

SUP skill set overlap with Downwind in the intersection.