Tag Archives: sup instruction

Let’s Go Paddling!

An Introduction to Stand Up Paddleboard Technique

Stand Up Paddleboarding is taking off in all corners of the world for several reasons: it is relatively easy for just about everybody, it is pretty unintimidating, you don’t need waves, you don’t need wind and it is great for fitness! It’s the perfect complement to windsurfing, kiteboarding and surfing, which is why so many people are adding it to their list of water sports.

Even though it’s easy to get on a board and go, good technique allows you to paddle longer, faster and have way more fun! Here are some tips for getting started.

SUP boards are surprisingly light and easy to carry with a convenient handle. Keep the board on the downwind side of you, and also help stabilize it with the hand that’s holding your paddle.

 

Getting Underway

1) Wade out into knee-deep water and ease your way onto the board on your knees. Place your paddle across the board well in front of the carrying handle.

 

2) Stand up and place your feet on each side of the carrying handle, which is generally the balance point of most boards.

 

3) Bend your knees slightly and hold your paddle so that the angle of the blade is pointing forward.

 

Proper Forward Stroke Technique

The Reach: A good long reach is the foundation for an efficient and powerful forward stroke. The lower arm is straight and the lower shoulder and hip are rotated forward, knees and back are slightly bent, and the upper arm is also slightly bent with the upper hand over your forehead. This position allows you to achieve a nice long reach, setting up a great stroke.

 

The Catch: The catch is the act of plunging the blade into the water and is the beginning of the power phase. At the catch, try to plunge the entire blade into the water, creating maximum power right from the start. The upper body “collapses onto the blade”, with the upper arm straightening to push the handle forward, adding power to the blade. The lower arm stays straight. Engage your core as you exhale, protecting your lower back.

 

The Power Phase: The power phase should be short and smooth, with relatively little effort from any single muscle group. The key is to get your whole body working in sync with a compact, efficient motion. Here’s what’s happening in this image: the hips and shoulder that were rotated forward are now rotating back, adding power and allowing the lower arm to stay straight. The lower arm is drawing the blade backwards, allowing the board to glide by it (the blade travels only a few inches in each stroke, but the board moves 10’+). The upper arm continues to drive the paddle handle forward, also adding power.

 

The Release: When the blade reaches your feet, lift it out of the water with your lower hand, while you lower the top hand and move it away from the paddling side. The Power phase is over.

 

The Recovery: This phase is key to an efficient stroke. As the blade is pulled from the water, twist the paddle as if you are opening a door handle by turning your thumb forward, “feathering” the blade so it can move forward through the air with little resistance. The body has becomes more upright, as the hips and shoulders once again begin to rotate towards the blade and follow it as it moves forward. Both arms stay straight, and the upper arm stays high and swings slightly outward to allow the blade to be drawn forward again.

Those are the keys to an efficient and powerful stroke: A nice long reach, a deep and powerful catch, a smooth and short power phase using your entire body, a quick release and a fluid recovery with minimal motion.

 

Turning the Board

Now you have a nice forward stroke, but at some point you’ll need to turn around. Here are some basic turns.

Bow Sweep: With your legs bent low, point the blade at the bow of the board and draw it backwards, scribing a nice wide arc with the blade from tip to tail.

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Cross Bow Sweep: From the same preparation position as the Bow Sweep, rotate your upper body across the board and begin to sweep towards the bow, then lift the blade over the bow and continue to sweep back to the stern.

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Pivot Turn: From a surf stance (with one foot behind the other) and both feet well back towards the tail of the board, use the sweep stroke to turn the board towards your backside. With your weight back, the front of the board is lifted out of the water and is free to turn quickly. As you complete the turn, move quickly back to your forward stroke position.

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Upwind Paddling Technique

Here in the Columbia River Gorge, many of us paddle in all conditions from calm and glassy to windy and bumpy. We’ve developed techniques, which allow us to be able to paddle successfully into strong headwinds and crosswinds, and are great for a killer workout!

The key is to choke down on the shaft and STAY LOW! A short, compact stroke is what many of us have found to be the most efficient when to working our way into a stiff 20+ mph headwind. Here are the images that demonstrate our Upwind Reach, Catch, Power, and Recovery.

Now that you have the basics to paddle efficiently in a range of conditions, get out there, get fit and have fun!

See you on the water!
– Steve

Click to go to bigwinds.com

 

 

 

Big Winds

207 Front Street

Hood River, OR 97031

888-509-4210

www.bigwinds.com

SUP Downwind Safety Guidelines

SUP Downwinding Safety Guidelines

Steve Gates

(with help from my friends)

Big Winds

2014

Here in the Gorge, and elsewhere, SUP downwinding is on fire. Everyone wants to go. On a warm, sunny day in a 15-20 mph breeze, it’s a walk in the park for most skilled paddlers. On a 25-35 mph cranker with a ton of current, huge swells and cold water, it’s a whole different ball game. We’ve had both types of experiences and everything in between in the Gorge, on Maui, and the Oregon coast and have had a pile of truly memorable runs. However, we have also had scary things happen, hence this list of guidelines for downwinding in the Gorge (that you can apply anywhere) to help us all get home safely.

Big Winds Downwinder

Big Winds Downwinder

Assess the conditions. If it’s not safe don’t go. It may be safe for some and not for others, or you. Remember that the conditions change fast, and vary as you travel along — particularly on the river. Your friends might look out for you, but it’s a big place. You have to know that you’ll be able to handle everything you encounter, by yourself.

Comply with the law. When in the Gorge (or elsewhere in Oregon), Oregon law states must have a PFD, a whistle and an Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) permit. You may not agree with this, but the Marine Sheriff won’t care. The fines are stiff. Attach your whistle on the strap of your hydration pack so you can access it quickly and easily in case of an emergency. In other areas, be sure to know local laws.

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Hydrate. The Viento Run can take an experienced, strong paddler almost two hours when the current is ripping. You most assuredly will become dehydrated without water. Wear a hydration pack. You won’t regret it. For any outing over an hour, I suggest hydration.tours-viento-2

Wear appropriate rubber. Assume you will break down, or someone else will and you’ll be in the water for some time. You can become hypothermic, even in relatively mild temperatures, so wear a wetsuit and accessories if needed.

Wear a BRIGHT rash guard or jersey! It’s hard to see you out there!

Mitchell Point

Heading to Mitchell Point on the way to Hood River.

Use leashes. When the current is strong and the wind is pushing your board upriver your board zooms away from you. You almost certainly can’t catch it by swimming after it. Make sure you have a STRONG leash! Make sure your leash tether is super strong and knotted so it will NOT come undone. Consider adding a second tether tied loosely, so if the first fails the second keeps you attached. If you fall in and your leash gets tangled, Do NOT take your leash off! Bad things will happen. This is the voice of experience talking.

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Finishing up the Blalock run.

Booties. Everyone hates booties till something weird happens and you are halfway between Viento and Hood River and you have to climb up the rip rap, through the blackberries, hauling your fourteen footer onto I-84. Booties look pretty good then.

PFDs. Know how to use your PFD, and if it’s inflatable, try it out. You don’t want to learn about problems in the middle Swell City.downwind-clinics-300

Helmets. Everyone hates helmets, too. However, when it’s blowing 25+ knots, a fourteen foot SUP becomes a lethal weapon in the air. I just barely missed being getting clobbered by one while in the middle of Malaaea Bay on a 30-40+ day. Getting knocked out by a flying board will most certainly ruin your day. On really windy days, a brain bucket is recommended.

Cell phone. Someone in the group should have a waterproof cell phone. An emergency is just that.

Look out for each other! This trumps all else. If you blast off and are a few hundred yards away, you may not see your paddling partner in distress, or be able to get there quickly to render aid. Establish a plan in advance on who’s looking out for whom; determine who’s paddling sweep.

steve-dw

The author riding the river swell.

Be aware of changing conditions. Is the wind increasing or dying? Is the current ripping or mellow? Ask someone in the know if you don’t. Allow plenty of time to complete the run before darkness sets in.

Have a bailout plan. Make sure the less skilled paddlers are aware of what to do (get to your knees) or where to go (next to the Oregon shore) if they are struggling in the swells and current.

Consider other players. Swell City and the Hatchery on windy days are high performance, crowded windsurfing and kiteboarding spots. Taking your SUP through there on a Sunday afternoon with 300 people ripping along at 30 mph ninety degrees to your path is asking for trouble. They probably won’t even see you before they take you completely out. If you want to ride big swells at the Hatch on your SUP, get out during dawn patrol.

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The Hatchery.

Have fun, and be careful. The Columbia is an amazing resource for downwinding. Let’s keep it safe and sane. It’s challenging enough without adding unnecessary risks.

Click to go to bigwinds.com

 

 

 

Big Winds

207 Front Street

Hood River, OR 97031

888-509-4210

www.bigwinds.com