SUP Play: Turns and Practice

A few decades ago a friend of mine raced Ferraris – as a hobby. He trained hard and practiced often. Somehow the strategy for making an “S” turn came up and he explained, “The fastest way through an ‘S’ turn is a straight line.” So often in sport, the most effective approach isn’t always easy to execute. I filed that away until recently as I tried to negotiate a few buoy turns in a local race. The leaders made a turn shaped like a sharp “V” – At buoy, quick tail turn, then past buoy. Just like that!  The slower buoy turns, like mine, looked more like a huge looping arch – widely past the mark and inefficient. T needed a new strategy and technique.

A few weeks ago I saw a clip of a TV show Candice Appleby taped just after her prone division win at the 2013 Surftech Jay Race. Candice took Ali Fedotowsky of 1stLookTV (New York) out for a SUP lesson – and tons of fun. They were joined by Chris Aquilar (cinematographer) – Video link

At just about the 3-minute mark in the video, Candice easily and gracefully performs a tail turn. Out of the entire TV clip that scene stuck with me for weeks.  In between, we had a few races around the area. It was obvious that the paddlers who had perfected their tail turn – with accompanying paddle technique, foot-work and balance – made up time at every buoy turn.  We all work hard to perform at our best in events – maybe we should take a page out of Candice Appleby’s book – her “play book.”

Photo by Gail DeSoto DeMarco
Photo by Gail DeSoto DeMarco

I have never seen someone do so much hard work and practice all with an amazing sense of joy and play.  This is just one example of fun times at Race the Lake of the Sky during the “Sweet Moves” contest presented by Sweet Waterwear. Credit to Gail DeSoto DeMarco for capturing the photo.

A few other photos shared by Candice on her Facebook page continued to inspire me to take some risks, take some time and go play at tail turn practice.

candice tailturn1  candice-headstand-wild

The headstand – I am still just 20% of the way on that one. But on a warm sunny day last week the tail turn played along with me and I began to get the groove.  Practice – I did a few dozen but it’s obvious that hundreds will be executed before I have a bullet-proof turn. Can’t wait to get on the river this week and hunt down something to turn around – a buoy, a rock, another paddler – whatever can make it a game! Thanks for the inspiration and sense of absolute play, Candice!

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