Yesterday most of the paddling I did was going for a wave – and did I ever catch a ton of them. There was an offshore wind and no organized swell, but the warm water of Oahu’s Waikiki break called Four’s was all fun.
Well, it was all fun until my husband, Ed, wiped out from a steep takeoff. The powerful off shore wind caught the edge of his board and flipped it fins up just as he hit. The gashing bruises delivered enough pain and swelling to keep him out of the water today.
A sweet south swell meandered in by 7 am and the wind was about as calm as we could wish for. I didn’t have the heart to take the SUP surfboard out while Ed couldn’t paddle, so I decided to do a solid 4 miles on my Naish ONE.
That’s where the “SUP Lesson from Seat One” made itself known.I took the first 1/4 mile to warm up a bit,weaving through the low tide reefs. Using what I learned from SEAT FIVE (article here) rotation, catch and driving my board forward rather than pulling my paddle back was my mantra.
The water was so glassy that I easily got into a groove. As my Naish ONE gained speed and glide I noticed my stroke BPM increased. As I moved through the water with acceleration, I noticed that it was too easy to miss the catch and let my paddle slide without any real power though the water. What was going on?
Then I remembered. Just last Monday night at Bend Oregon Outrigger Canoe Club practice I was in Seat One. A very similar situation played itself out as we went 70% of race speed for 8 minutes, then 80% for 4 minutes then 90% for 4 minutes. As stroke person I had to work hard to make sure I maintained a solid catch even as paddle strokes per minute increased.
No one would be better to remind me of what to do than the steersman, Jason Tedrow. A skilled and versatile water athlete and rabid competitor, Jason coaches with purpose (to catch the canoe in front of us and get to the highest speed we can maintain).
After each pyramid of percent of race effort he would critique our technique and remind us-
- Keep your stroke up front and lively
- Maintain your catch
- Rotate from the hips and drive the boat forward
- Timing, timing, timing
As the hotels of Waikiki whipped by in my peripheral vision, as I worked to stay steady and balanced. Sideways swells reached for my ankles I recalled the lessons from Seat One!
The bow wake of my Naish ONE invited a paddle stroke pace that was much quicker than my usual. My reach and catch was a rotation and drive combination. The faster my board went the more quick and sharp were my paddle strokes. Before I knew it I was turning at Diamond Head for the return 2 miles.
This practice delivered some solid cardio intervals and a huge measure of stoke! Headwinds greeted me on the return trip and I was getting fatigued. This was a perfect scenario for another “Lesson from Seat One.” When we were doing those sprinting pyramids I was often feeling “too tired to go another exchange.” Yet, focusing on the voice of the Seat 3 “Hut, Ho” and the encouragement of the steersman we all remained calm and maintained speed. I did that same thing as I worked fast and steady back into the wind.
Who knew it could be outrigger practice that refined me into a better SUP paddler!