Innocently, you join friends and fellow competitors for your first down wind SUP adventure. River, lake or open ocean – when the wind and the bumps cooperate the experience is incredible. My first downwinder was on Odell lake in Oregon on a cold, blustery late October day on a NOT-made-for-downwind board in 2007. Farmer john wetsuit and more than a few dozen wipeouts in 6 miles – but I was hooked!
There’s so much to think about – paddle stroke, wind and wave direction, safety around rocks, channels, tankers or current and your own stamina and ability. Whether your first run was 3 miles and easy or a kick-your-butt challenge, it’s likely you emerged from the adventure a different person. Perhaps, like so many of us, all you can think about is doing it AGAIN! Yup, you’re hooked.
In between opportunities to do down winders, it’s incredible to spend time learning from the masters of down wind, including Dave Kalama. We had a chance to meet him a few years back at the Naish Colombia Gorge Paddle Challenge where he hosted a Kalama Kamp. Google Dave for training tips he shares in 1-2 minute videos. A collection of those videos can be found here.
Another year at Hood River we were fortunate to take a clinic with Jeremy Riggs of Paddle with Riggs. It was amazing what can be learned when Jeremy paddles beside as bumps come and go – on the spot coaching led to some of the most connected glides ever! A bonus from that clinic was having Steve Gates of Big Winds out on the water with us. Pure stoke and a grin that could power a city – Steve would get to every one of us along the 8-mile run from Viento to Hood River. Somehow he telegraphed that energy so I could really dig deep when it was time to connect bumps and then balance for the glide.
Some take-away tips from the video (see below) of Jeremy Riggs training Justin Gordon include:
- The key thing keeping up your momentum. Shorter rapid paddle strokes keep momentum going – keep speed up
- Don’t go right up the back of the wave in front of you – that will slow you down and you paddle UP.
- Look for the place to keep the momentum going, a place to guide the board into the trough where you can catch the next bump – and have tons more FUN!