Stand-up paddle racing techniques

Stand-up paddle racing techniques

After rowing alone and perfecting your technique on your stand up paddle (SUP), you wonder what you are really worth compared to other practitioners and you want to experience the thrill of competition?

Nothing could be easier if you have a 12'6 stand up paddle board (minimum racing gauge). There are more and more local races open to everyone that will allow you to have a blast trying to row faster than the neighbor. You just need to master a few essential techniques described below by Eric, director of the “Sup Ciotaden” paddle club in La Ciotat.

#1 Master the beach race

This is the first key moment that will allow you to get ahead on a smooth water surface, rather than behind the others, caught in their wake.

- Hold your paddleboard by the central handle and a side handle.

- Run as fast as you can, lifting your knees to cover the largest distance possible without the water slowing you down too much.

- As soon as the water level gets too high, jump to get both feet on your board simultaneously.

- Position your feet near the carry handle, to stay stable and keep the board balanced

- Adopt a low grip, with your hands underneath the handle to paddle with the maximum frequency

- Open your hips, moving back the foot on your paddling side, to generate more power

You're on your way to the first buoy turn.

Stand-up paddle beach race
Stand-up paddle turn

#2 How to buoy turn successfully

You arrive at the buoy at full speed, surrounded by other competitors. Try to get as close to the buoy as possible, so you can turn as tightly as possible around it, without other competitors being in your way:

- Position your weight-bearing foot behind (right for regular, left for goofy, in surfing language) while you keep paddling. It is important to have the blade in the water when you move your feet back.

- Move backward so that your back foot is positioned over the fin. 12'6 boards generally have a dome or pad marking where you should put your back foot, so you don't need to look. The angles of your feet are different. The back foot is almost perpendicular to the axis of the board, whereas the front foot is more open and indicates the side to which you are going to turn. Look in the direction in which you want to go

- Put your body weight on your back leg to turn faster

- Keep the blade near to the surface of the water, bringing it towards the outside to improve stability.

- Incline the shaft to increase rotation speed and keep paddling behind you to increase the pivot effect and give you support.

- At the end of the turn, bring your back foot level with your front foot or do cross-steps to get back to your original paddling position and accelerate again.

#3 Accelerating by paddling frequently

To go as fast as possible in sprint mode, you will need to increase the number of paddle strokes per minute, just as a sprinter increases the frequency of their strides. This will be very demanding on your cardiovascular system and all the muscles involved, so it is recommended to " sprint" for a short period only (start of the race, after a turn to regain speed, and for the final sprint). Here is how you can combine frequency and power for maximum speed:

- Stay flexible on your legs 

- Paddle without bending your arms, keeping your hands reaching out in front

- The angle of the shaft should be inclined forwards, because the efficacy zone of the paddle is in front

- Use the big muscles (abs, deltoids, back muscles, etc.) and engage your upper body to transfer the energy to the board

Regular interval training will allow you to repeat this kind of exertion more easily.

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