× Tips and techniques for getting the most out of surfskiing.

Paddling upwind / turning downwind

1 year 8 months ago #40074 by qmento
Most of my paddling involves starting out paddling into the wind then turning around and coming back downwind. The hardest part (for me) is making the 180° turn. More so now because I'm trying to get used to a skinnier ski. Does anyone have tips on making the transition from upwind to downwind a little easier? Thanks.

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  • MCImes
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1 year 7 months ago - 1 year 7 months ago #40075 by MCImes
Replied by MCImes on topic Paddling upwind / turning downwind
I struggled with this as I first got into ocean paddling. We have break walls all around me so have to contend with lots of reflected swell. Here's what I found

Make sure to build up as much speed prior to the turn as possible. Put in a few sprint strokes then relax to 80% power as you execute the turn.

Dont turn too hard, such that it kills all your speed. Its better to maintain moderate speed, moderate turning vs stalling the rudder and loosing all speed.

Practice sitting parallel to waves. At first paddle parallel to them and practice bracing. Then practice this static (not moving). Sitting still in parallel waves is good training, as it will force you to improve your balance

Be confident in your remount. If you are VERY confident remounting, your fear will diminish. Anytime you're afraid to fall out, do it on purpose. do it and force yourself to remount. Once you KNOW you can remount in ANY conditions, the ocean is your oyster. Build up in progressively worse conditions. Practice remounts at the end of every paddle (not the beginning!). I still occasionally think falling out would be inconvenient, or occasionally sketchy when surfing shorebreak, but I've come out in some of the worst conditions the Pacific and Columbia river Gorge has to offer and KNOW I can get back in. Take a moment to compose yourself and mentally execute the sequence, then get back in.

Do not stop paddling through the turn. Once you commit, go for it. Never stop paddling. (As the canoes say - Keep A Paddle In The Water or KIPITW)

Until your gain confidence, turn to the side that the wind and waves want you to go. This way you dont fight the wind and prolong a turn.

I usually get about parallel to the waves (1/2 way through the turn), then try to gain some speed in the trough of a wave with a couple strong strokes. As the next wave picks you up, start to turn slightly downwind, like 15-30*, then at the crest of the wave hit the rudder hard. If you time it right your bow is mostly out of the water and your boat will turn like a dime. You should be ably to get 40-60* of turn completed on one well timed wave crest. At this point your bow is straight downwind and you're falling into the trough behind you. Slowly power up as you fall off the wave. Once you hit the trough power up more and wait for the oncoming wave to tell you when to sprint to catch it. If it doesnt feel like a good wave, just paddle casually until a good wave begins to push you, then sprint!
Last edit: 1 year 7 months ago by MCImes.

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1 year 7 months ago #40077 by waverider
The danger point is 3/4 the way through the turn. If you are hesitant then you may have wiped off all your speed and your rudder is useless at this point, A crest comes through and suddenly kicks your nose around, you go to brace on the outside, but blade goes into the trough providing little support and over you go.

Best for me is to do half the turn, pick up a burst of speed paddling across the wave then as a wave passes under aggressively steer it around. payimng particular attention to outside blade placement, just behind peak if possible. As mentioned above, the more confidant you are with remounts the less you hesitate. Hesitation is what causes instability. Helps if you practice a lot just paddling across waves. As you are generally doing out and back session this means normally in an hours session you are only getting a couple of minutes in total being broadside, so do some sessions just getting used to being broadside. Otherwise our ability to go out and back quickly exceeds our ability to be side on. Which is important as the route back may entail going crosswind, so dont neglect this ability on a tippy boat.

If you find yourself in extreme conditions and afraid of turning then its legs out and shuffle round
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1 year 7 months ago #40079 by tve
I'd agree with all the above :-)

Overall, I would say that #1 is to be confident in the remount. The two key things to practice in my experience are getting good body memory for when to flip so the butt ends up right in the bottom of the seat and not half on the side-wall, and the second is for handling the paddle so you have it ready the moment you flip into the seat (all this for side remount). You can practice these things in perfectly calm water, perhaps where it's a bit warmer too. It's about automation & consistency more than anything else.

Then #2, turning or paddling side-on: what's the problem? If you fall in you get a free remount practice and can celebrate. If you don't fall in you succeeded in turning and can celebrate. It's win-win :-) :-). Either way, each time you practice you get better at it!

IMHO the whole stability thing is a time in the bucket issue (plus some seating position and perhaps technique). You need to build muscle memory. So do what you want to be doing as much as possible, which is to keep paddling through anything that happens (i.e. don't brace except as a very last resort), this way you build muscle memory.
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1 year 7 months ago #40083 by zachhandler
All of the above. I would differ in one thing from MCImes. Practicing remounts at the end of session is good to learn that you can do it tired, and if you exhaust yourself then you haven't ruined your session. That said remounting in the rough at the start of the session can be extremely helpful. Doing a few remounts ups your confidence and reduces fear for all the reasons stated by others. Once you have put your mind in that better place, you will be able to do those turns much better. In addition there is that thing about practice not making perfect; only perfect practice makes perfect. Working those turns in a maximally confident state will increase the chance that you are practicing good habits rather than bad fearful habits when turning. And doing better at turning of course boosts confidence in turning which lead to better turning and so on and so forth.

As far as the issues you are having, you are in a boat that is too tippy. That is ok. I learned in a boat that was too tippy. I would pick a stable ski if i could so it over again and shave a few years off my learning curve, but the past is past. I think you have to recognize that your boat is too tippy and own that fact. In a sufficiently stable ski afterall, the turn would be a non-issue. I have been doing this sport much longer i think than you and have no problem turning elite boats around in the waves. But when i do out and backs in small conditions in my sit on top k1 i almost crap my pants each time i turn it around in the waves. I am mostly ok in the upwind, and a bit shaky in the downwind, but the turn is very anxiety provoking. That boat is clearly way too tippy for me in those conditions. But I accept that and do it on occasion anyway for the challenge, though i never do it far from shore.

You need to get more stable in that ski. I am not sure if practicing turns is the most fun or effective way to do that. What you need is tons of time in the bucket in all sorts of conditions. when balance is better turns will be better. It is very important to paddle in flat and small conditions as well since the stroke goes to crap if you have any balance issues, even if you don't realize it, and you really want to be practicing a good stroke rather than a bad stroke. Again, perfect practice makes perfect.

Just keep paddling and you will keep progressing, but be patient with yourself. It takes a while to take balance to the next level. You can do the work but the brain can only change so fast.

Hopefully something in this is helpful to you.


Current Skis: Epic v10 g3, NK 670 double, NK exrcize, Kai Wa’a Vega, Carbonology Feather, Think Jet, Knysna Sonic X
Former Skis: Epic V12 g2, Epic V12 g1, Epic v10 double, Nelo 550 g2, Fenn Elite S, Custom Kayaks Synergy
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