Major SUP events are always a great opportunity to pick up a few tips from other paddlers, learn new techniques, and reinforce old lessons. Looking back on the weekend, the Pacific Paddle Games presented an extraordinary opportunity as not only were there many of the world’s best professional SUP racers in attendance, but also an all star cast of announcers with years of paddling experience under their belts.
A number of the big names were freely doling out insights and lessons learned throughout the weekend over the course of the official commentary during the event. The volume of information being exchanged was virtually unprecedented and I made a point to carve out a few mental notes on some of the most impactful tips shared during the weekend.
When competing in a race, focus on yourself and mentally block out your competition. ~ Dave Kalama
It is important to paddle your own race. Frequently turning your head to see what your competition is doing is an unnecessary distraction and will erode your concentration on what matters most – you. By not letting your competitors become a distraction you will be able to paddle a more clean race, achieve a better result, and most importantly, have more fun.
Place your hands and arms over your head during a fall, especially if you are in the surf zone and do not know where your board is.| ~ Anthony Vela
Falling off your board in most normal paddling conditions is generally not a dangerous prospect. Falling off your board during a surf race, however, can easily result in an injury or worse if you are struck by your board or that of a competitor. Protect yourself to the best of your ability by remaining calm, not scrambling back to the surface if your go underwater, and making a “hand helmet” to protect your head.
When lining up your race board to catch a wave back into the beach, make sure your board is pointed directly at 12 o’clock. ~ Dan Gavere
It is easy to get caught up in the intensity and excitement of surf racing, especially at a major event like the Pacific Paddle Games. The thrill of the race, the desire to catch or pull away from your competition, the roar of the crowds and spectacle of the tents, flags, announcer’s booth, and spectators are all enough to get your adrenaline racing. Even a minor misalignment when paddling to catch a wave can be enough to cause you to falter or worse. Keep the nose of your board pointed straight ahead, step back and enjoy the ride.
Attend the race briefing, be sure are fully aware of the requirements for the competition, i.e. are leashes and a PFD required, and study the course. ~ Anthony Vela
At least one prominent and experienced competitor failed to adhere to the requirements for the competition at the Pacific Paddle Games and paid the price in the form of a penalty levied against their finishing time in one of the races. Always attend the race briefing and pay attention so you fully understand the race requirements and are prepared to meet them. The rules may vary from one event to another. Never assume something is being run a certain way or that you can get away with not following the rules.
Be safe, have fun, and go fast! See you on the water!
Photo: OnIt Pro