It’s inevitable that many stand up paddlers will get into racing at some point. With large numbers of paddlers not living next to the coast, pootling around on flat water, leisurely cruising, sometimes isn’t enough and challenges are often sought.
SUP surfing could fill the void, but waves are fickle and the chances of skunkings numerous. Racing could therefore be the area of SUP that satisfies paddlers needs the most.
For those who are looking at getting into racing for the first time, here are a few tips to keep in mind when setting out to smash the competition.
Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
Turning up for any race having not prepared, even the tiniest amount, is never going to see you getting podium finishes.
For some, being top dog may not even be on the agenda but having enough steam to bust it round the race course is necessary if you’re to achieve something. If you do want to become competitive against the best of the best then you need to step up.
Regular training, gym workouts, cross over sessions and a healthy balanced diet is the only way to go.
A wise man once said: ‘Prior planning and preparation prevents poor performance’. Never a truer word uttered.
Get a Feel for the Course
When you turn up on race day it’s always best to get to the event location with enough time to scope things out and belt round the course at least once. This is the only way to identify those subtle nuances that could make or break your SUP race. Knowing how to make good use of wind shifts, tidal streams and other such effects will serve you well during the comp.
Have up to Date Weather Info
Heading into a SUP race event without a clear picture of what the weather is going to do is a little like going in blind.
Understanding what you’re likely to be faced with throughout could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Using the conditions to your advantage and screaming past the opposition is how experienced racers take those wins.
Hydrate and stay lubricated
SUP racing is thirsty work. You expend a lot of energy and therefore need to keep hydrated and lubricated. The worst possible scenario is becoming dehydrated and too fatigued to continue on.
Most stand up paddle racers keep water supplies topped up all through the event. You’ll be surprised at how much moisture you lose during a SUP race – even on the coldest of days.
Aim high but don’t over exert yourself
There’s nothing wrong with aiming for the front of the pack and wanting a podium position. However, sometimes, smashing your opponents just may not be on the cards.
If you’re at the front, battling for a top spot then keep fighting. But if you’ve only got a few yards to go and are mid fleet, it’s no good injuring yourself through over exertion. Keep your position and stay ahead of those behind you, but leave the big battles for another day when it’s more likely to pay dividends. Being calculated and knowing when to go is a tactic all racers should understand.
Learn from Others
At any SUP race event you’ll find a whole host of experience. Pro paddlers and amateurs alike, in fact anyone that’s been involved in any kind of SUP racing before you, will have tips and experiences that you can glean and learn from.
Start line frolicks – courtesy Jim Diehl
At each SUP racing event try and speak with as many people as you can and find out what their experiences are. Knowledge, after all, is power.
Learn from your Mistakes
We all make mistakes and it’s therefore inevitable that during high pressure situations, such as stand up paddle board racing, we take our eye off the ball as the intensity becomes too much.
Making mistakes is common to all, and not just with SUP. Rather than beat yourself up for those mild milky spillages, take the time to figure out what went wrong, what you can do to improve and then implement this strategy during your next race.
Only by falling can we scale mountains.
Revel in small Victories
You may never make the podium – a fact that sometimes has to be faced. And yet, this shouldn’t deter anyone from having a bash at SUP racing.
There are always positives you take away from each event, rivalries to be settled and wins to be had. Take those small victories and use them as a building blocks for personal improvement.
Dedication and Training
If you really want to be top of your game, or even the SUP racing pile, then you’re going to have to put the hours, miles and effort in.
The top competitors of the world put every ounce of hard work into their training routines which doesn’t just mean smashing out the miles on the water. Cross over programmes in the gym, having a strict diet and usually making many sacrifices is the only way to reach the very pinnacle of your performance.
Obviously this isn’t for everyone as certain mitigating factors may halt you in your tracks but dedication to the cause is the only way to succeed.
Your time will come, enjoy the Moment
Time on the water spent doing something you love should be reason enough to get involved with SUP racing. Mixing with likeminded individuals and enjoying the camaraderie both in victory and defeat are experiences that make racing so alluring.
Try and enjoy every moment and sooner or later your time will come.