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Stand-Up Paddle Boarding (SUP) Tips

Here are some stand-up paddleboarding racing tips from “What-SUP” team rider Jen Fuller.

By Lena Felton

How do you paddle in a straight line?
One of the most helpful but challenging techniques is to keep the paddle blade very close to the board while submerging almost half the blade under the board using short and fast strokes. The longer the stroke, the more chance there is for having the board squirrel around. Switching sides often can help too, depending on conditions. Weighting the board with your foot on one rail or the other, in opposition to any chop or wind, while keeping the paddle close can also help.

How does one best navigate choppy water?
Practice, practice, practice. Again, because one never knows what conditions will be like on race day, practicing on choppy water and current gives the racer an edge. I train in the bay where current, wind and chop are often coming from all directions, so when it comes to races with these conditions I love it and feel confident.

Quick short strokes or longer deeper ones — which is fastest?
In general, shorter strokes (Tahitian) equal faster cadence. Longer deeper (Hawaiian) strokes are often used intermittently on a long race to give a break from faster cadence. However it’s really about personal preference.

What is a good strategy for wind?
Train in it as often as you can. It is never easy but makes for excellent training. It offers the best experience in terms of maneuvering through chop as well, since the two go hand in hand. It is a great strength-builder. Most people avoid it.

What is a good strategy for getting out of the pack?
The biggest thing new racers have to get over is getting near the front, paddling in tight quarters, and bumping paddles and boards. I do drills with students I am coaching simulating these scenarios. Also getting the best start position, and sprint training are going to help you stay in front of the pack. Drafting will allow you to conserve energy in the beginning and then hopefully have the strength and power to get by a person later.

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