Alright! This is Robert Stehlik, with Blue
Planet Surf and I’m going to talk about the five most common mistakes I see people
make that are just new to downwinding, just getting into it. And I’m going to paddle
as I’m doing it to demonstrate what I’m talking about.
So first of all, I do a lot of downwind coaching. A lot of my customers are pretty good paddlers.
But a lot of the times they come from the mainland or somewhere where they haven’t
had an opportunity to do a lot of downwinders especially not in the ocean. So they are not
used to a doing open ocean downwinders. Some of the common mistakes I see are first
of all, just paddling too much basically. Paddling too much and paddling at a steady
pace instead of sprinting and then pausing. So knowing when NOT to paddle is very important;
when to paddle lightly in between. Right now there’s not many waves. I’m
going to wait for good opportunity and I’m just going to paddle lightly, save my energy.
And then when I see something good coming along, I’m going to take a few quick hard
strokes and try to follow that bump in front of me. And once I kind of get on it, I’m just
going to follow it and let my board glide. I’m just going to let it glide out, see
how far I can let it glide. And as I’m slowing down, the wave passes
under me. That’s when it’s time to paddle again to get into the next one. I’m just
going to move back a
little bit, back and forth. So it’s all about switching up your speed.
Gliding, resting, whenever you can, and then taking quick hard fast strokes when you see
opportunity to catch a bump. So my first tip is to STOP paddling. Don’t
paddle at a steady pace. It’s not about a steady slow paddle. It’s about quick sprints
to get in the bumps. The second common mistake I see is to start
paddling for the bump too late. Basically, what you want to do is rest, paddle lightly
until you see an opportunity. And as a bump passes underneath you, that’s when you want
to start loading up your paddle, kind of paddling into the back of the wave that I just passed
you. Now, wait for a good one to pass underneath
you and then, kind of paddle onto the back of it. And I like to think of it as the bump in
front of me pulling me along, rather than the bump behind me pushing me. So, that bump
in front of me is pulling me along. My GPS says I’m going like eight or nine
mile an hour, ten miles an hour. That’s pretty good. Another good one. Paddle for it, kind of going to the left, so
I’m going to follow it to the left. No need to paddle, moving back a little bit. Keep
the nose out of the water. Following that bump in front of me, kind of reforming. Another
one. This one is going to the right so I’m going to follow it that way. Alright, back to the left again. That was
a long one. The more you can connect the better. But you don’t want to worry about
that too much in the beginning. So the third common mistake I see people do
is not using their paddle for balance. So if you lose your balance, throwing your paddle
around in the air might help a little bit. But the best way to find balance is by skimming
the blade over the surface when you’re gliding. And also if you are on a bump, the nose tries
to catch a little bit, get your paddle behind you and lean back on a paddle. That will help you keep the nose up, keep your weight back and be in a balanced, stable position. Especially when your board
is accelerating, you’re going to have the tendency to kind of fall backwards. Now, I’m way back on the tail, just skimmming my paddle. I’m still on it, way back, skimming. So using the paddle for balance is really
key. So when you lose your balance, just boom, fall on your paddle. Lean on it. It’s going
to g ive you a lot of stability. Anyway, so mistake number four is not having the right
board. And that being said, some people are really good at making pretty much any board
work in a downwinder. But if you do have a flat rockered board, it’s definitely possible to
make it go fast in a downwinder. The trick is basically to move around more.
You have to move more front and back to keep that nose out so you can plane on the tail
without the nose catching in front of you. And especially on longer drawn out bumps
or on a light wind day, having a flatter rocker is definitely an advantage. Also the rails of the board and the surface
is flat on the bottom versus the curved bottom. A flat bottom will generate more lift so
it’s easier to get that board on a plane. Flat water race is definitely having narrower
board is definitely an advantage because you just have less drag. But in downwinders, narrower
is also faster at top speed. But what I find is that a wider board actually
sometimes can be an advantage as well because the wider board has more surface area so it
generates more lift. It gets on a plane a little bit quicker than the narrower board.
But sometimes it easier to get a wider board on a plane and glide a little bit longer on
it from that extra lift the bottom generates on a wider board. So it’s kind of a tradeoff, not
always necessarily faster on a narrow board, definitely not faster if you’re in the water
versus on the water. So if you fall in a few times, then you would have been faster
on a wider board without falling in, you know. So, I would always err on the side of caution,
especially if you’re not buying the board and you just rent it. Get a wider one on your
first time. When you’re comfortable and you are fine on
a 30 inch wide one, you can think about moving down to 28 or 27. Some guys go
even narrower than that. But like I said, unless you have really good balance, it’s
not always faster to go narrower. I’ve tested some 26 inch wide boards and
on windy days, I’m actually slower on 26 than on 28 so keep that in mind. Ok, then the fifth common mistake is not standing in
the right place on the board. You want to make sure you’re not too far forward where
your board can’t release when you’re on a bump. So as soon as you’re on a bump, you want
to move pretty far back the board. As soon as you slow down, you got to move forward
again. Just keep your stance generally a little
bit more back than when you’re paddling in flat water; you keep your weight right
over the middle of the board right where the handle is. In a downwinder, that’s too
far board. So, on my bump rider, I always keep my feet
behind to the handle and I also have a slightly staggered stance as you can see. One foot
is about six inches behind the other foot. Alright, so those are the five most common
mistakes I see people do on downwinders the first time. Thanks for watching. Come again soon. Check out our YouTube channel at blueplanetsurf.com.
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