With Autumn in full force, we’ve already experienced strong wind, rain and dropped temperatures. Many have put up their boards till Spring, while others are stoked to get into the changing conditions. This is prime Downwinding season. Here’s 4 tips to help you paddle in wind more efficiently and thus have more fun.
1. Look for the Lee to paddle upwind. The ‘Lee’ are sections that are protected from the wind. Behind hills, docks and other obstructions which create areas of calm water. Paddling a curvy path is easier than in a straight line to your destination. Lee are similar to an eddy in a river.
2. Use short quick strokes to paddle upwind taking the blade out at your toes or sooner. Longer strokes mean you’ll be pushed back on the recovery.
3. Bend over at your waist and drop your head to reduce your footprint when paddling upwind.
4. Wear bright colors so you can be seen and you can see your friends. (see pic).
5. Wear your leash. Losing a board in wind is very easy.
6. Feather your blade on the recovery and keep the blade as close to the surface as possible to reduce drag going upwind.
7. Keep your buddies close. Wind, current and surfing waves can separate you from your friends very quickly. Last Spring a few guys landed at their cars after a downwind run only to notice they were short one guy. Meanwhile he was swimming 3 miles back to shore in 30kt winds from not wearing a leash. This happened again off Maui with a 2 mile swim by a paddler in September this year.
8. Use wind to your advantage when going downwind. Instead of paddling for power only, use your body and flat part of your blade as a sail.
9. A Southerly means the wind is coming from the South. Common winds in Seattle are NE, SE and SW. Each section of the Sound has a different wind pattern. If it’s SE in Seattle it could be W in Port Angeles. Use a real time wind forecast app like SailFlow or WindAlert.
10. Take a Downwind and/or rough water class. The more you know the more safer you’ll be while having more fun. We offer a Downwind class in Seattle. Also check out Art Aquino in Seattle. If in Oahu check out Blue Planet Surf; on Maui, Paddle with Riggs