Author Topic: Downwinders: the most common mistakes made by first timers  (Read 18736 times)

blueplanetsurf

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Downwinders: the most common mistakes made by first timers
« on: August 15, 2015, 02:05:44 AM »
These are the most common mistakes I see when I coach paddlers on their first downwinder:
1) Paddling too much at a steady pace
2) Not paddling at the right time
3) Not using the paddle to brace
4) Not using the right board
5) Not standing in the right place

Feel free to add more mistakes/ tips

I made two videos covering these mistakes and how to fix them- top is the abbreviated version and second is the full version, I hope it helps more paddlers get into downwinders!




Robert Stehlik
Blue Planet Surf Shop, Honolulu
Hawaii's SUP HQ
http://www.blueplanetsurf.com

peterwSUPr

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Re: Downwinders: the most common mistakes made by first timers
« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2015, 04:00:17 AM »
Good video!  The only thing I might add about the first one - paddling too much at a steady pace - is that it depends on your conditions.  I got my son out for the first time paddling DW, and we were on our local river which is wide with about a 5 km fetch in maybe 12 to 15 knots.  Which means you could catch bumps, but they were small.  I had to get him to paddle a bit more and generally keep his speed up.  On small waves you're only in the sweet spot for catching them for a very short time.  If your timing is a bit off and/or you have to accelerate more from a slow speed, and it you're not a good strong paddler, waves will pass you by.  For sure you still have to sprint to catch them, but it seems a little speed is your friend on the small stuff.  He found out it's still a workout, and not a free ride!

Peter

DavidJohn

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Re: Downwinders: the most common mistakes made by first timers
« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2015, 04:28:59 AM »
Great vid Rob.. I agree 100% and couldn't have said it better myself.. But there are plenty of other common mistakes so I'll add a few more.. Don't look back.. It's like you said.. It's about getting behind a big wave in front not surfing a wave that's coming from behind.. Also.. Keep your head up and don't look down at the nose of your board or the water just in front of your board.. Try and line things up that are further ahead.. Also.. Bumps are often in sets of two or three and sometimes even four.. The place to be is right behind the last bump rather that in front or behind the first.. I find that most people stand too far back while trying to catch bumps and wonder why they can't catch them.. Being forward will catch more but you need to be ready to move back quick once it's caught.. and on most boards that moving forward and back can feel like an accelerator pedal.. Moving forward and back requires a non parallel stance.. The more you get one foot in front of the other the easier it is to move forward and back.. Most people get locked into their parrallel stance way too much.. One last thing to add.. Think more ahead and hold your line to the distance or finishing point rather than just head where the waves or wind takes you.. It's best to prevent getting into trouble rather than getting yourself out of trouble if you find yourself way off corse.. I also find most people paddle way too much.. Always wear a leash..  :)

Check out the beginning of this vid (once I'm paddling) and see my friend Ann way off in the distance.. Watch how little I try and paddle to get across to her.. At times I go to take a stroke and think.. No.. I don't need to.. Doing this lets you concentrate on gliding and board trim rather than just paddling.. I hope others add more.. There are heaps more..  :)


 
« Last Edit: August 15, 2015, 05:15:20 AM by DavidJohn »

DavidJohn

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Re: Downwinders: the most common mistakes made by first timers
« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2015, 04:39:37 AM »
oops.. double post..

Having the wrong board is a good one.. I've had people want to come on a DWer with us and they want to use their 10' inflatable.. That's not going to work..  8)
« Last Edit: August 15, 2015, 04:47:06 AM by DavidJohn »

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Re: Downwinders: the most common mistakes made by first timers
« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2015, 04:48:14 AM »
Hey DavidJohn...

Just found your downwind videos on Vimeo this past week and love them. Wow! You all sure do have some fun down there! Great viewing while waiting for winds to pick up on Lake Michigan in the Midwest and the Chesapeake Bay over on the east coast where I am moving (back home) next week.

And to BPS...Have been a big fan of Blue Planet since I saw them at Walk on Water in Ocean City, Maryland!!

Fall is when the winds pick up on the bay so all videos are good fuel!!

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Re: Downwinders: the most common mistakes made by first timers
« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2015, 05:08:30 AM »
I learned a lot here.
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Re: Downwinders: the most common mistakes made by first timers
« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2015, 06:16:48 AM »
Great post Robert!  I'd say one of the top mistakes is staying in flat water stance and not moving back and forth.  For people not coming from a surfing background, I think this is the hardest thing to get used to.  To paraphrase DJ, its all about knowing when to tap the gas and when to tap the brake; i.e. trim forwards or aft.  Footwork is at least as important as paddle work.

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Re: Downwinders: the most common mistakes made by first timers
« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2015, 08:36:54 AM »

Having the wrong board is a good one.. I've had people want to come on a DWer with us and they want to use their 10' inflatable.. That's not going to work..  8)

Robert, that is a great video, and hits the major points

DJ, I agree the right board makes a huge amount of difference starting out. Although I will take people out on our mini downwind run on whatever board they have, and then swap with them so they get to use a downwind specific board (usually my SIC Bullet 14v1 TWC) and can experience how much better it is. That has meant I've paddled a few crazy boards (including 10' iSUPs) on downwind runs, and it's actually quite fun now and again.
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Re: Downwinders: the most common mistakes made by first timers
« Reply #8 on: August 15, 2015, 08:42:38 AM »
Footwork is at least as important as paddle work.

Completely agree, and it was DJ who pointed this out to me a while back. The main issue when you are learning downwinding if you are not a surfer is you spend all your time concentrating on paddling and timing the paddling to catch bumps, and the feet get left behind. Then when you master the paddling part of it, I find you forget entirely about the paddling part, and it's all about the foot work and feeling the board, the glide and where you need to be on it, just like it is surfing. It's the hardest part of the equation to master for the non surfer, but forcing yourself into surf stance even if it is just slightly staggered to start with, pays huge dividends later.
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Eagle

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Re: Downwinders: the most common mistakes made by first timers
« Reply #9 on: August 15, 2015, 09:51:31 AM »
Another big common mistake is going out in conditions that are too windy and rough for the ability of the rider.

Better less windy and calmer until the beginner is able to stand and paddle ok.  Some are very surprised at the difficulty switching from flat water as they realize in short order that DW requires a different skill set.  A beginner in the water too many times and possibly hurting themselves cracking a rib from a fall on a board are situations you want to avoid.  Sometimes it is even better for a beginner to practice doing easy out and backs so they can learn the nuances of staying in control on a wave in more safer predictable conditions.  When they get tired they can sit and rest -> then just head back to their starting point.  No shuttle - easy peasy in conditions they feel comfortable in.

A beginner one time wanted to do a 7 mile run into Squamish as he thought it would be easy and relatively straightforward for him.  Conditions starting out were fairly calm - but after about a mile the wind started to pick up and wind swell and whitecaps started to form.  Could see he was having a lot of trouble staying upright so I offered to swap my wider and more stable board.  He thought it was ok on his board and as can happen entering Squamish it was really rocking and rolling entering the river.  Since then - that paddler has not returned for another DW run. 

So be very cognizant that conditions can change from docile to a bit windy and gnarly in a very short time depending where you paddle.  Better less windy and less choppy for a beginner until their balance skills improve.   ;)
Fast is FUN!   8)
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Re: Downwinders: the most common mistakes made by first timers
« Reply #10 on: August 15, 2015, 10:09:51 AM »
Very cool Video Robert, I wish I had that when I was starting. Now do one for more advanced downwinding.

You hint at following the energy, but it might be a good lesson for your next video. Reading the water, finding where the energy is going and following it, and when you drop into a big wave, looking ahead to find the way out without punching the nose in.

Jeremy differentiates between turning and banking, which I think is a good way to describe carving across the face of a wave. Countersteering to keep from rounding up in big swells, etc.

I like the explanation of following the bump that rolled under you, as if the bump were drawing you along. It's not really, but it's a good illustration. You're really in the trough between two waves and the rear peak plus wind pressure on your body plus paddling is giving you the energy. Short period wind swell looks more like a divot than the longer period ground swells do, and the divot has a leading and trailing edge. When we connect swells we're leaving the trailing edge and advancing to the leading edge of the divot we start in. Most of the wind swell we ride probably moves at about 10-15 MPH depending on size, and has a period of 1-2 seconds which means the wave peaks are 14 to 30 feet apart. Hence the "divot". The big guys that roll under us at Maliko have much longer periods, more in the range of 7 to 10 seconds and are going 15-20 mph so the peaks are roughly 400-600 feet apart, so a huge swell rolling under you doesn't mean there's one right behind you--though its out there. Dah Dum...  ...Da Dum.... Da Dum...
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Re: Downwinders: the most common mistakes made by first timers
« Reply #11 on: August 15, 2015, 10:46:27 AM »
oops.. double post..

Having the wrong board is a good one.. I've had people want to come on a DWer with us and they want to use their 10' inflatable.. That's not going to work..  8)

Been there. Said that. Ended up riding the damn thing the last 3/4's of the run.

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Re: Downwinders: the most common mistakes made by first timers
« Reply #12 on: August 15, 2015, 11:07:59 AM »
Thank you for the input, keep those tips coming.

DJ, that video section of you catching up to your friend Ann without barely taking a stroke is a great illustration of how it's often not about paddling but more about timing and trim.

Bill, I like what you said about Jermey talking about turning vs. banking.

I thought about including something about rail steering but I find first timers find that concept very confusing.  It's very common for first timers to lean on a rail and don't expect the board to turn away from underneath them.  The board turns and they keep going straight- into the water.  It's important to learn to anticipate the rail steering and use it to your advantage.

Banking- if you stand close to the center of the board at medium speeds you can use rail steering and steering strokes to bank into a turn-i.e. lean on the left rail to turn to the right.

Turning- if you are standing further back on the board at higher speeds you can turn the board like when you are surfing-  leaning into the turn onto the inside rail will make your board turn off the tail.
Robert Stehlik
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Hawaii's SUP HQ
http://www.blueplanetsurf.com

Luc Benac

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Re: Downwinders: the most common mistakes made by first timers
« Reply #13 on: August 15, 2015, 11:42:44 AM »
It's very common for first timers to lean on a rail and don't expect the board to turn away from underneath them.  The board turns and they keep going straight- into the water. 

Check - done that a few times

Banking- if you stand close to the center of the board at medium speeds you can use rail steering and steering strokes to bank into a turn-i.e. lean on the left rail to turn to the right.

Check - I am working on that and I have found the Aercor fin to be of help

Turning- if you are standing further back on the board at higher speeds you can turn the board like when you are surfing-  leaning into the turn onto the inside rail will make your board turn off the tail.

On my bucket list - I have not managed yet to be planing often enough and fast enough to practice with any consistency

Thanks for the videos Robert, I also really liked the old one in a previous series with the hand-drawn sketches showing the bumps and where to be and paddle.

Cheers,

Luc
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Re: Downwinders: the most common mistakes made by first timers
« Reply #14 on: August 15, 2015, 12:53:32 PM »
Going to have a good look at these. A few of us did our first "proper" downwinder today with the wind probably getting close to 20 mph at times. I got a few glides but very short. I was just too knackered to paddle hard. There were bumps but just not getting them. I think it was a bit choppy but when the wind picked up it became easier. It was a 10 km stretch and that was enough for me. Two things I know I was doing wrong...paddling all the time and looking at the nose of the board. Stil loved it.