This article contains two powerful lessons from Dave Kalama. If you do down winders, no matter what your skill level, reading the water and getting your glides are skills you’ll want to hone.
A big “mahalo” goes out to Dave for taking the time to share these insights. And kudos to four of the Hood River Kalama Kamp who earned medals after their time with Dave Kalama.
Back Story:Did you happen to catch any of the action during the recent, and very challenging, Molokai 2 Oahu (M2O) race? The conditions were epic, to say the least. Right at the front of the action was Dave Kalama keeping pace with the young guns, despite pushing 50 years of age.
The focus and confidence Kalama demonstrated in that event was built on decades of pursuing everything that defines a waterman. Dave’s commitment to putting in the quality miles and hours it takes to compete at this level is well known. What might be less known is his absolute gift of explaining the techniques and insights he’s honed over a lifetime. These insights can be yours.
Whether you are a beginner, intermediate or a solidly advanced standup paddler ready to hone your down wind skills, you will be interested in a recent conversation I had with Dave. One take- away, “Ultimately, instruction on reading the water and having a sense of reading wind, waves, current and glides, will make minimal sense unless you are repeatedly in a downwind situation being exposed to each set of circumstances.”
A number of fortunate SUP athletes looking to gain expertise at doing a down wind run will take a Kalama Kamp clinic in Hood River. others whose dreams are filled with tropical oceans and bays will meet up with Dave at Kalama Kamp in the Turks & Caicos and Fiji.
Rather than gaining just a nugget or two, like those in this article, Kalama Kamp attendees will be exposed to the mother lode of advice and experience right in the environment where it can be practiced immediately. Each of the “nuggets” below was something I had heard from Dave, but more impressive, I heard the same thing from Kalama Lamp attendees I have met at various SUP events around the Pacific Northwest.
Nugget #1: This was shared with me by a recent Kalama Kamp attendee in Hood River, Jared from Tahoe, “I learned so many specific things about my stroke and body mechanics during the ground clinic. We used brooms and it was really cool. But the best part was out on the water. Dave told us specifically what we were looking for. We could see, really observe what we were looking for, Dave told us when to paddle and go for glides and we practiced and got immediate feedback.
The NUGGET: The backs of waves will present themselves to you. You can use the nose of your board as an indicator of when you should paddle. As the swell comes under your board it will lift up the back of your board. The angle it lifts your board will match the steepness of the swell. A deep trough translates to a steep face. Pay attention to the nose of your board. The more the nose begins to lift you can anticipate that the tail will be lifted by the swell a few seconds later. When the nose is up at its apex begin your attack to catch the next swell. Begin with a stroke at 50-60% to initiate the rhythm but go to your max through the next few strokes. By building the stroke early you are building the tension to move your board forward. Be aware of when the nose of your board is at the apex and drop your paddle in then to gain tension against the water and set your rhythm. BY the third paddle stroke you should be at 100% and enjoying the glide!
At the Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge I met some “repeat offenders” who had been to a number of Kalama Kamps and are eagerly looking forward to the Kamp in Fiji. Alex and Ashley from Canada explained, “We are intermediate and beginner level paddlers. (Ashley is just getting into down wind riding while Alex has more experience). The Kamp is equally great for both of us. From the on land work, video, recap and reviews to time on the water, Dave not only refines our skills but he motivates us to learn more and gain confidence.“
Nugget #2: A Kalama Kamp (Hood River) participant who has taken 3 Kamps already, also named Dave, shared this, “Kalama spends time with every participant on and off the water. He has a knack of explaining technique in a way that I can understand. I was not using my body to drive the board forward. I gained so much confidence in how I gain speed with better technique.”
The Nugget: This video explains it so well: