About 18 months ago we visited Oahu and were fortunate to discover Blue Planet, an SUP center just a few miles from Waikiki. Blue Planet is owned by Robert Stehlik, a talented paddler consistently sharing his time and expertise to all levels – from rank beginner to the downwind experts. We had a great time at one of the many free clinics he offers and loved trying out race boards for the first time in 2011.
Robert Stehlik combined his talent with a GoPro video and decided to paddle the Hawaii Kai downwind run on Oahu while narrating it. With a summer full of all sorts of downwind runs (with the Wickiup in Central Oregon coming up soon) we decided to take some time to really study Robert’s videos. It is really insightful to hear the coaching tips and tricks as he is actually doing them.
While the tips on paddle cadence were definitely valuable, the tips on reading waves and increasing the opportunities to ride glides both left and right really hit home.
I absolutely agree with Robert when he says, “Downwind runs are exciting and fun. In the surf, you are often waiting for a set or your turn to catch the next wave. On a downwinder, there are no crowds, you have long windswells that stretch across the whole ocean to play with, you are always on the move, going from one glide to the next, surfing the bumps.
There is no doubt that doing any length downwinder requires preparation, planning, a partner and the appropriate safety gear. The pre-downwinder prep including balance training, awareness and a depth of open water experience can make all the difference in the experience.
Robert advises, “It can also be dangerous to head out into the open ocean unprepared, so make sure you know what you are getting yourself into.
I enjoy sharing what I have learned and have been offering coaching to paddlers that want to experience the joy of downwind paddling. For more information on SUP lessons and coaching offered by Blue Planet, please visit the website for more information.