A decade ago, stand up paddle boarding was still something new, and now, guess what, it’s the fastest growing sport in the world. Along with the growth of the popularity of the sport is the races and matches of the sport. There are a lot of SUP races being held around the world these days. If you’ve been doing stand up paddle boarding for a while and are in love with the sport, why not take it to the next level and try to be a part of a SUP race?
If you are interested in taking part in a SUP race, note that it requires more skills than just paddling on a calm lake. For starters, in order to gain advantage in the game, you need to know how to start the game and not be left behind in the beginning. The technique you need is called SUP sprint starts. It’s an important SUP racing technique that could give you a huge advantage if you learn it and use it well in the game because having a good start is half way winning the race. If you can be first off the line, you will have the good flat water out in front of you and gain more confidence right in the beginning of the game.
In a racing game, the pace is an important factor that can affect the result greatly and if you are able to have a good start, you’ve at the same time set the control of the pace. If you are left behind and want to catch up with the leading group, you’ll have to paddle really hard. So having a good start will save you a lot of energy on the race. So if you want to have a good start in a SUP race, be sure to check out our tips on the racing techniques in the content below.
First, when you are getting ready on the start line, make sure that you are not over it or behind it. There are a lot of factors that can affect your performance on the water when paddle boarding and you need to take them all into consideration like the tide, flow or wind if the game is held on a windy day. Because of these factors, you might not be able to keep your board still on the water while waiting in line, so you might need to paddle for a bit to make small adjustments to keep you in the right position on the line.
After the game starts, take the first few strokes on your preferred side because you can take a few extra strokes on that side and it will help in building up your sprint speed. Usually you will hit your flat-out speed within two to three strokes but it’s not necessarily a good thing when you are in a SUP race because instead of building tempo up, you will just have turbulent water and inefficient release of the blade. And that’s not a good and efficient way to propel your board forward. So don’t rush into getting your sprint speed.
Once you reach your full sprint speed, the right thing to do is maintain it for about 100 to 200 meters. This might sound easy to you but in fact, it’s much harder to do than you think. In the first few hundred meters, you should try to get into a train which will allow you to benefit from the draft of other people. Trying your best in the beginning and getting a good start will make things easier for you because it’s never easy to chase other paddlers down in the rest of the game.
Now let’s talk about paddling flat-out. It means the fastest reps you can achieve with the right paddling technique. Ideally, paddling technique you use should help you gain fast speed right in the beginning of the game. Shorter strokes are what you need. You should enter the water early and exit early. It’s completely different than cruising on calm waters. The goal you should be aiming for is the paddle reps or cadence to be around 80 to 100 per minute. When trying to maintain your speed and cadence, you can try dropping your hand off the grip. This way you can get the paddle out of the water quicker without it catching, thus making your strokes shorter which translates to faster reps and more effective paddling over a shorter distance. But this paddling technique has some side effects that can’t be ignored. Here’s something you should know about this technique before actually applying it in your game. Be more cautious when you are planning on using it for prolonged periods because it could put more pressure on your lower back and cause lasting damage. Always pay attention to your posture when you are paddling.
Also, as you can see from the above content, SUP sprint starts involve a lot of work right in the beginning of the game, so proper warm-up before the game is a must. Before the game starts, take your time to stretch or do a few fast paddling to warm your muscles up. It’s a basic rule before doing intense sports but the fact is a lot of people don’t take this seriously and have suffered from the consequences of ignoring this rule. So when you want to partake in a SUP race, always take your time to warm your body up and prepare your body for the sprint in the game.
There are a lot of SUP races in the world and it’s always fun to be a part of it. Try and practice SUP sprint starts if you intend to join the game. But as always, the result is not the most important thing in the game, having fun is. If you have fun paddling and racing others on the water, you’re already a winner.