Down wind runs! As a surfer from waaaay back in the 60’s and a sailor for many decades since, I don’t think I appreciated the extraordinary stoke that downwind runs provide.
Maybe the lack of enthusiasm for downwinders came from me being on the wrong board. I did my first downwinders on Odell Lake in Central Oregon on a surfboard. One year I was “Queen of the Lake” in first place and the next year I was dead last with the “sightseer” award. Neither time was anything other than a paddle-paddle-paddle workout. Glides were not a part of the game.
Then my husband and I headed to Maui for a vacation and we had the great fortune to rent a Naish 14′ Glide for a “fun-run” at the Olukai Ho’olaule’a from the youth center in Paia to Kanaha Beach Park. Talk about a dramatic change. We had so much fun that we spent the next year prepping for the 2013 event. During our visit to Maui in May 2013 we met Jeremy Riggs who coaches paddlers on skills they need to enjoy downwinders and – GO FAST! It was great news to hear that Jeremy would be in Oregon doing a clinic at BigWinds – a wind-charged downwind from Viento to the Hood River event center 8 miles upstream/down wind.
We planned our trip and drove the three hours to Hood River, OR. Little did we know that city is practically NAISH CITY USA!
The best thing you can have during a downwind run is – WIND! We got that in spades. Sunday dawned with 25-30+ mph winds with hearty gusts far exceeding that. The waves were consistent and thigh to mid-chest high. GULP! We got just what we wanted and it was a bit intimidating.
Jeremy gave us a 90 minute clinic back at the BigWinds event center and the take-away was BRACE! Yes, if I learned nothing else I learned the value of bracing:
- When the nose dives and you don’t know where it will pop up
- When a side chop threatens to take you out at the ankles
- When you need to balance during a glide then paddle-paddle-paddle fast for the next glide – and the next
At mile 6 we grouped together and prepared for the final 2 miles past the Hatchery and the kiteboarders, to the finish. I didn’t know what I was in for at that moment. Something came together. The thigh-high bumps seemed to invite connection. i was getting 2 and 3 in a row. As the bow of the Naish 14 Glide dipped under from time to time I simply reached back with my KIALOA Hulu Ultralight and maneuvered a quick brace. In seconds, the nose would pop out and it would be 2-3 paddles and another connected glide on the Naish Glide. Yes, STOKED was the word of the day.
Watch it all here: