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Paddling Into the Wind – Seychelle SUP – Talk Story Blogs

Paddling Into the Wind SIC Talk Stories
Hi Friends! 
Welcome to the March edition of my monthly “How to” blog series. 

I want to talk to you today about paddling in the wind. And more specifically, when you have wind coming from the side.  I’m going to talk about the tips and techniques that you can use when you have a side-wind today more so than when you are paddling directly into the wind.

First things first, safety! Especially in windy conditions, having a leash is really important as well as a PFD. Also having a buddy or letting someone know where and when you’re paddling is always a great idea. 

Now, the windier it is, the more challenging it is to paddle equally on both sides. The better we become at practicing these techniques, the more balanced we can paddle equally on both sides no matter what the wind direction is. The addition of a wind-chop coming from the side as well definitely does affect the difficulty and makes it more challenging.

However as with everything, practicing these techniques and you will get better.

This blog post is taken from a video recording. If you would rather watch the video, click this link! 

A lot of the technique of paddling in a side-wind is about being able to steer your board. So if I have wind coming from my left side, I want to be able to steer my board to the left towards the wind in order to counteract the wind pushing my board to the right.

So how do I do that?

The first technique is using your paddle. So the angle of your paddle directly affects the angle of your stroke and the angle of your stroke is going to affect the direction that your board is steering. So, you know, this common sense says that if I want to turn to the left, I’m going to paddle on my right and I’m going to paddle out wide. I have this angle of my paddle and I’m going to make this wide steering stroke and I’m going to paddle from close to my board to away from my board in a wide angle to steer. 

That’s probably the way that you learned how to turn when you first got on a board. You made wider strokes on one side and you make a really slow turn, right? So it’s actually more for steering your board than turning your board. So paddling from close to far away, angling your paddle away from your board, is going to angle your board, steer your board away from your paddle.

Right? You guys probably got that one down.

The opposite of that is true as well. If I instead, angle my paddle towards my board, and I reach out away from my board and pull back towards my board, that’s going to pull me towards my paddle.

All right, so reach away from the board, reach out nice and wide, pulling at a diagonal angle back towards your board. A straight stroke would be with the paddle straight up and down, right next to my board. My paddle travels straight along the path of my board. My board travels straight along the path of my paddle. So, reaching out away, pulling back towards, I can paddle upwind to the windward side.

Does that make sense? Practice that. 

So instead of staying stuck paddling on one side of the board FOREVER, when the wind is coming from one side, and paddling wide, and pushing your nose of your board away from your paddle on the opposite side of the board; take your paddle to the windy side of the board, reach out away, and paddle by pulling the paddle back towards you or pulling you board towards the paddle In that way, you can take strokes on both sides and still be steering your board to counteract the wind pushing you down.

That takes practice and if you’re reading this blog, you’re probably not paddling right now. So, you know, maybe watch the video I linked or read this right before you head out for a paddle and take a look at that angle, right? Or better yet – You can download the Seychelle SUP app and gain access to the Drill Video Series – part 2 where I have drill videos demoing an explaining how you can practise drills exactly for developing this skill. If you are on the app you can even download the videos to watch offline and take them with you when you paddle!

It’s also about the angle of your paddle and the direction of your blade. Steering the nose of your board by using the angle of your paddle blade to determine the angle of your stroke. To steer yourself towards your paddle, angle the blade towards your board and to steer yourself away from your paddle, angle the paddle blade away from your board. The stroke will follow the angle of the paddle. 

The second technique is steering your board with your feet and putting more weight on to one side of the board or the other. Whichever side of the board you lean towards, the board will steer slightly in the opposite direction.

The side of a paddleboard it called  the rail of your board. If I put more weight on the right side and dig the right rail in, I actually steer my board to the left. So it’s the opposite. If I put more weight on the left and dig that left rail in, that’s actually going to steer my board to the right. Leaning to the right, weight on the right foot, is going to steer the board to the left. And leaning to the left is going to steer the board to the right.

If you’ve ever paddled with me, you’ll see that I do this a lot. I’ll even go so far as to hook my heel on the lip of the deck of my board. It depends on your board shape and your board design. But for me, rather than, leaning and having this weird hip position, I actually put the heel of my foot over my rail to get a little bit of extra weight on the side that I’m trying to weigh down.

So, if the wind is coming from my right, I’m actually going to weigh the left side of my board and I can paddle in a straight line on the left or on the right. It’s not actually going to turn your board. So don’t expect to lean and have your board like go “whoop” and turn. It’s a very subtle steering. With the pressure of your weight on one side, by digging a little bit of the edge of your board in it can keep you on track. Now for going straight… If I lean, it turns ever so slightly. I should say, it steers.

So, as with everything in life and paddling, it takes practice. 

A couple of tips to help you are to keep a bend in your legs. If you’ve watched the rest of my videos, you know I’m a big fan of having bent legs and using the legs. You also want to be relaxed and dynamic in the legs.  Often when there’s wind, there’s chop. We need to be able to absorb that chop in our legs, in bending the knees.

 I’m leaning or waiting the left rail, I steer my board to the right. Then a chop comes from the right, that can create a little bit of an imbalance and instability. So, depending on your board shape, how that’s going to feel, how that’s going to happen. Also, it depends a lot on how relaxed you are, how stable you are. And a lot of times, When people get into these choppy, windy conditions, we tense up.

Tensing up just makes it a lot harder. When you are relaxed in life and paddling, things are a lot easier. So keep your legs relaxed, keep your legs bent and, practice a little bit of steering your board.

That’s really when combining those two things… that pulling, steering stroke and steering with your feet, it’s really powerful in allowing you to maneuver your board in whatever direction you want, no matter what the conditions.

Of course it gets more challenging the more windy and more choppy it is.  Give yourself time to practice, to feel, and to become efficient  and effective at these things. The better you are at maneuvering your board, the better paddler you’re going to be and the more comfortable and the more confident you’re going to be in all conditions.

This helps a lot with drafting too, being able to steer your board. I steer my board a lot with my feet when I’m drafting. These skills will play well into all aspects of your paddling.

Remember you can download the Seychelle SUP app and gain access to the Drill Video Series anytime. The Drill video series is a part 2 series of drill to help you paddle with more power, speed, and efficiency. In Part 2 of the series, I have drill videos demoing an explaining how you can practise drills exactly for developing the skills and techniques that I spoke about today! If you are on the app you can even download the videos to watch offline and take them with you when you paddle!

I hope this is helpful. Leave me your comments and questions. I look forward to hearing from you. Have an awesome day. Happy paddling!