stayin' high on da wave

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1 month 4 weeks ago #40057 by LaPerouseBay

Once this is under control paddling downwind, at least in our conditions, becomes a game of exploring that top-of-the-wave, looking left & right for the next wave to hop onto, and then using the wave energy to sling-shot there. Mix in unexpected sideways shoves while at the top in bumpy/confused conditions and there's a lot of fun to be had!

Hmm, upon further reflection, I'm not sure this is actually the same thing as what I see in many videos of paddlers on the front of the wave sitting there with a brace stroke to slow down and avoid racing to the bottom. I believe it's better to stay higher up where there's more control, more visibility, and more power to sling-shot when desired. Maybe it depends on wave size/steepness/speed or something. Sounds like more to experiment with and learn...

Yes, it's the same thing. Yes, it does depend on "wave size/steepness/speed or something." But don't let that deter you from the basic rule of the "y" axis. Elevation is the key to downwinding. It's why surfers zig and zag up and down the face of a wave. Same thing.

It's why foilers carve wider lines that boats. Same thing. Extending the run on the largest swell.

As for why we drag our paddles, it's to stay on a better line. Same thing. Synching up with the best wave/direction.

Here's a picture that identifies the crossing swells in green, main swell in orange. You can see where they converge. X marks the spot. If you get in synch with that system, your runs extend the best.



Here's a foiler surfing, extending glides.


downwind dilettante
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1 month 4 weeks ago #40058 by LaPerouseBay
Same thing here. He goes across the biggest energy, not down it. Same exact thing in smaller water. Lakes with shallow water are a bit different, they need to launch over stuff, but not in the ocean. Leave that to the experts.

Much more to be gained by learning to surf sideways across everything, big wind or small. It's a special skill set that will pay huge dividends later. The dividing line from average paddlers to elite paddlers is more a function of balance than fitness. Like any skill sport. Sprint kayak for example.

www.facebook.com/surfskicenter/videos/do...es/1305146746181704/

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1 month 4 weeks ago #40059 by LaPerouseBay
Here's Mike Owens on a windy day on the north shore. He has extensive K-1 experience. Notice how he goes across the waves. Those are 12+ foot seas with 30 to 40+ mph winds.

vimeo.com/195241682

downwind dilettante
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1 month 4 weeks ago - 1 month 4 weeks ago #40060 by LaPerouseBay
Here's a video of Daz in small conditions, doing the same thing Mike is doing.
Main energy they want to use is coming from their left, going to their right. Those are the longer period waves.
They want to surf as much as possible in those troughs. As that fast swell rolls thru, they cannot stay on it, so they let it roll under. When it does, they focus on the crossing swells again. Sometimes they pull hard to get in synch with the crossing swells, to get to the peak they are after.
That peak is what will put them on the face of the main swell. Mike was going for a personal best on that run, yet he was pausing and waiting for the crossing swells to set up for him. That's what average paddlers need to learn.
Mike sometimes charges hard on his crossing swells to get to a point that will lift and let him use that big wave energy. Then he sometimes has to sprint again, while on that face, to extend that glide. This is also where average paddlers fail miserably.
They sprint thru a gate, then cannot add a few more moments of power if they are just a bit too late. That's when average paddlers really lose speed.
It's far more effective to use a stable boat and avoid that penalty. Mike has the balance and fitness to give hard sprints to cover tough spots. That's not easy in a tippy boat. It's not easy in a stable boat either.
Daz has the power to sprint thru hard spots too. But, he doesn't and says why early in the video. "let this one go and the next one will probably carry me right up to it." That's what average paddlers fail at.
Oscar says it all the time too. Wait, wait, wait. Speaking of wait, weight has a lot to do with average speed. Heavier paddlers have completely different lines in small conditions. Especially if the large person is in an elite ski.
It takes incredible stamina and balance to sprint on the face of a wave when up to speed. That's why an average paddler in a tippy ski is so slow in bigger conditions. If they can launch at all. Here on Maui they are usually stuck on shore, watching. I see people struggle in Outriggers too when it's big. They just can't make any power or steer, because they don't have the balance...
That's why I urge anyone wanting to get better or learn to downwind, to go across the waves in a stable boat. You are going to have to do it to get to your best average speed, like Daz does here. You are then going to need that skill set to push thru when you make mistakes, like Mike does. Those are the "huge dividend" I mentioned before. Big or small conditions, it's all the same thing.

downwind dilettante
Last edit: 1 month 4 weeks ago by LaPerouseBay. Reason: spelling.
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1 month 4 weeks ago #40061 by Dratz
Replied by Dratz on topic stayin' high on da wave
A question regarding the concept of wave intersections; Daz at one point talks of going “through the V” into the next run. Boyan and others talk of aiming for where the swells meet each other and put an “X” on their videos at the intersection of the crests. This however would be the highest point in the immediate surrounds.
As a rule then are you looking to shoot through the gap between the adjacent waves or looking to stay high on the stacked peaks?

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1 month 4 weeks ago - 1 month 4 weeks ago #40062 by tve
Replied by tve on topic stayin' high on da wave

[...] This however would be the highest point in the immediate surrounds.
As a rule then are you looking to shoot through the gap between the adjacent waves or looking to stay high on the stacked peaks?
I've had the experience of aiming for that intersection spot, watching the waves "open up" in front of me, and being carried up there forever, so it definitely works (not that I would be doubting DAZ or Boyan). But as you say, explaining what happens or what you're trying to make happen is a bit more difficult! As far as I can tell, you're aiming for the intersection ahead of you while you try to stay on top of your current wave and the result is that you're staying of top of the previous intersection. And this way you stay on the highest spot while if you go sideways off the intersection you will be on the back of one of those two intersecting waves and thus slow down.

Kind'a like you aim for the deepest trough ahead of you, not that you want to actually land down there but because aiming there puts you at the top of the highest wave 'cause that's what follows the trough.
Last edit: 1 month 4 weeks ago by tve.

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1 month 4 weeks ago - 1 month 4 weeks ago #40063 by LaPerouseBay

A question regarding the concept of wave intersections; Daz at one point talks of going “through the V” into the next run. Boyan and others talk of aiming for where the swells meet each other and put an “X” on their videos at the intersection of the crests. This however would be the highest point in the immediate surrounds. As a rule then are you looking to shoot through the gap between the adjacent waves or looking to stay high on the stacked peaks?

That's a good question. The answer is both. They want to get back up high - in front of the main swell. They do whatever it takes to flow back up - with just enough momentum to drop the nose over - and drop into the big swell. Maybe steer, maybe sprint, maybe drag a paddle - it depends. The 'y' axis is the key.

Daz is describing how he uses his momentum to cut right thru the pyramid in front of his boat. Big guy, elite boat - has momentum. He calls it out because it's not typically what he recommends thru the video. When that 'v' has something good behind it, he decides to knife thru, rather than steer around it.

Here is a picture of the 'v' he's talking about and a brief explanation of what he does after 4:26 in the video.



The orange line is the primary swell, the green lines are the smaller waves that push him onto the orange swell. The green lines don't quite push him on, so he rams over that mogul. As you hit play, he turns right just enough to go down that big orange energy, but steers just barely left so that he's in front of the mogul - created by the convergence of the waves. Then he's going to stay there. See the big payoff? I can guarantee you his graph line goes flat, at high speed.

So, in answer to your query , I'd call that more of 'staying high on the stacked peaks' rather than "shooting thru the gaps between adjacent waves." Shooting between adjacent waves is more of a transition thing.

Boyan is putting an 'x' on where the main and crossing swells converge - to highlight where to look. Yes, it's the highest spot in the immediate area. But there is an even higher spot, and it's right behind him. Same in my little diagram. That little red x I drew has a big brother behind me. Big brother x is higher up on the 'y' axis. That's why my nose is down. That's what we are all aiming to get in front of.

So, you have two different things to watch for when it comes to shooting thru or parking up high. Daz is in small conditions, so he's mostly steering thru the moguls. He's paddling just enough to get free energy to get him in front of the orange wave. That "v" was a good catch on your part, that's a subtle detail to pick out.

Boyan is usually the one parking up high forever and he does it here again. But it can also be called "shooting thru the gaps in adjacent waves." at 1:28 he decides "I can't surf right on this wave anymore, so I'm going to dive bomb it. The green wave's convergence is what he's drawing x's on because he needs to begin his turn down the face of the big orange wave. See how he stalls and goes thru the 'gate' as the big orange wave starts to rise again?

That's exactly what I mean about flowing back up to the top of the main energy.

At 2:35 he's ready to go thru the 'gate.' He does, and the nose drops right into another screaming right hand glide, across the face of the orange wave. Waves like that are not caught from a standing start. He needs help and it's the secondary, green waves that get him back up high again.

That's what Bonnie, Sharon, Mike, Daz and Boyan are doing. Carefully metering their steering and strokes - to get back in front of the main swell, up high. They don't want to sprint, ever, unless they have to. That's why balance is so terribly important. The wave all those paddlers are focused on is the one with the longest period. Boyan calls it the "primary" swell in his diagram. That orange line has the highest and lowest points on the y axis.

Some fast guys around here say 'stay in the trough.' Same idea, staying in front of the primary swell. It's a good one to practice if your conditions warrant, but it's not my preference. I'd rather surf, with minimal effort, up high. 'Relax and keep the nose going downhill' is a good mantra. That covers everything if you can stick to it.

downwind dilettante
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1 month 3 weeks ago #40065 by LaPerouseBay
Here are 3 videos from the same run. It shows how waves build on my south shore run. Same approach on my part to extend runs. I look for the dominant energy. That's the biggest up and down on the 'y' axis. I aim my boat across that energy as best I can and try to get pushed on by crossing swells.

First video, waves and wind coming from my right. I'm NOT trying to 'go fast,' I'm drilling surfing to my right, across larger bumps. So, I point the boat toward Kahoolawe. You can barely see the little pushing bumps going to Kahoolawe, but they are there. I can feel them. If you watch the graph, you can see when I get synched up with the speed of the waves, across the larger swells. The line goes flat. I turn to my left ONLY to avoid the crest of the bigger wave filling my bucket with water.

That's precisely what Boyan was forced to do in his wild video when he had to dive bomb that big wave coming thru. He spotted a crossing wave that would flow him back up high as the big wave came thru. He timed his drop down the face and used the crossing swell to surf back up to the top of the 'y' axis. Being up high is safer, faster and has the highest probability of extending a glide. I practice that a lot in small conditions.

That's why downwind boats have rocker. Old elite skis broach violently and should be avoided. That's why Epic keeps adding rocker and stability to everything they produce for downwind surfing. It's why I started the thread with that old video of me. Several tough miles across some strong wind in a gen 1 v10. I was dragging my paddle to avoid zooming down a face I couldn't steer out of. New boats are much more forgiving.

1/2 mile from shore, wind and bigger waves going from my right to left.



Here is 2 miles out. I'm choosing any line that will flow me back in front of the largest swells I can manage. At 4:18 I get greedy and sprint, but fail to keep up. I get bucked out of the wave by 4:30. A paddler with better balance would have easily made it thru - in the same boat. That's what makes a good downwinder. Balance. Not a fast boat. Balance, power, then speed. Same thing in ICF sprint kayak. If you can't make good strokes when the water offers a golden path like I missed, you need a more stable boat. My legs were probably locked.



Here is the very end of the run. This time the main energy is going left to right. I get run over trying to surf left to my destination, that clump of trees at the first white hotel. No big deal in the 9. Just turn down and find a pushing bump going to shore.


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1 month 3 weeks ago #40066 by LaPerouseBay
Wind was exceptional yesterday, here's a clip from 4 miles in. I had to pause and have a look around. Very organized and groomed on the south shore. North shore is far more complex, with 3 directions to watch out for. South shore is 2 directions. Skiers would call it the bunny hill.

Main energy is from my right to left. I try to gain speed with crossing swells from my left. I don't get any good links - flat spots on the graph are short lived. It's because I can't paddle hard enough to rise up on the 'y' axis as the big swell comes thru.

I may have been able to link thru with enough speed - if I had sprinted hard down the face of those big ones. But the trick is to turn down the line and keep going. That's not easy in a wave that big. Not for me. I prefer the high percentage links.

Outriggers are very forgiving for ruthless sprinting down big faces. Anyone can charge bombs and be relatively safe. I used to run it out straight and hope it reformed behind. First on Sup, then outrigger.

That's what most of the hacks do here on Maui. If they get pushed too far in, they can't go across big swells to escape. Several boats a year are smashed. I never lost a boat, but I only did outrigger for 2 years before switching to ski. I would charge like a maniac at full gas. Super fun, but not smart. Great for pushing up the anaerobic threshold. Long intervals to total exhaustion are not dangerous in outrigger.

Huge time gaps to the experts. They told me they were glad to see me switch to ski. They knew what was coming. It took me 2 years to get my average times back. I was a whole lot smarter about surfing.

Ironically, outriggers are far tippier than elite skis. I often get funny looks with that comment, but it's true. That's why they have an ama... Try flying that ama and surfing. That's what the experts do. That's balance and that's the difference. Hacks lean on the ama and paddle harder. A heavy ama limits steering...

More tippy yes, fast straight down a big face yes. Turn across a big face? Good luck.

Anyhow, here's that clip. And keep practicing surfing sideways. It will pay huge dividends.


downwind dilettante
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1 month 3 weeks ago #40067 by tve
Replied by tve on topic stayin' high on da wave
It's hard to tell from the video, but the big ones look too fast for anything satisfying. Yes, you can get onto one, but pretty soon the constellation changes and the leading edge where you are has a bump in front of you and is not steep enough to really carry you. Then you have to sprint. You can probably make it, but my experience is that at the end of the sprint one ends up in a slightly worse position and when that not-steep-enough-plus-bump constellation repeats a few seconds later it's game over with a punishing stall (plus exhaustion). My default rule has become that if I get onto big fast stuff I sprint over one bump if I have high confidence and then go diagonal "unconditionally" and make the best out of it. Seems to work better, i.e., avoids the inevitable total stall...

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1 month 3 weeks ago - 1 month 3 weeks ago #40068 by LaPerouseBay
Yes, I agree, particularly in an elite ski. The downsides of not 'making the wave' are severe. Downwind foilers are not fond of restarting either.
I did the maliko shuttle today and got to chat a bit with Mike Owens. Another subject to be aware of is weight. I'm 180 and wear a lot of gear - so I mow thru mistakes that slow a lighter paddler.
Mike is about 170, Carter Johnson is 190. They both got Fennix boats back in February. I asked Mike how he likes his. "I like it now, but it took forever to get used to it." "It's not as fast on the straights, but turns better." "Carter liked his immediately because he's heavier - it took me a long time to get up to the speeds I had in the previous generation." So, there is a lot riding on weight with that additional rocker.
First Maliko today in a month. I only have 15 the past 2 years. (Minor shoulder separation, busy working) I felt relaxed and comfy. Breathed in thru my nose mostly. No sprinting - unless it was necessary to stay safe. Recorded my fastest time in 7 years.
That's how effective training angles can be. I did hundreds of malikos a year back in the day. Same average speed as the plateau I was stuck at back when I was ripping my arms off in an elite ski.
Here's a clip of a tricky section of the run. The reef gets shallow - water moves all around. I've broken more than one leash on that reef. When the water goes from deep blue to aqua blue, I pay close attention. I was steering mainly right to avoid a spin to the left. those are the bad ones. Fun day. The end of the run is when the best glides happened - but a big blob of water on the lens ruined the video.
Here's a good video on the science of how the brain learns complex tasks (like downwinding). I have all the bases covered with my south shore run. Valid environment, many repetitions, timely feedback, deliberate practice.
Drill those angles, it helps.


downwind dilettante
Last edit: 1 month 3 weeks ago by LaPerouseBay. Reason: add video
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1 month 3 weeks ago #40069 by tve
Replied by tve on topic stayin' high on da wave

Yes, I agree, particularly in an elite ski. The downsides of not 'making the wave' are severe. Downwind foilers are not fond of restarting either.
LOL! You really have something against elite skis! :-)
I have to borrow a V9 to see how I like it, we're just not having the right conditions at the moment... The more stable skis I've paddled have all swamped way more easily than the V12 and have all been harder to paddle over a hump ahead making the swamping more likely. Plus at this point, I'm totally fine paddling a swamped V12 onto the next run, I sometimes don't touch the bailer on purpose to experiment how the boat feels full of water.

Another subject to be aware of is weight.


I hadn't considered that. I'm below 160lbs (trying to gain weight...). I do like the way Nelo has different versions of the "same" boat for different weight paddlers.

I felt relaxed and comfy. Breathed in thru my nose mostly. No sprinting - unless it was necessary to stay safe. Recorded my fastest time in 7 years.


Very cool and very satisfying progress, I'm sure!

It's pretty clear that the fastest times require the least physical energy (and the most mental...) 'cause you're on the wave and it provides the power. But it does often require intense short bursts of power to pop over something or link a wave ahead, unless one prefers to go sideways to let the wave through and catch the next, which is also a good strategy.

In our low-wind conditions something I'm finding difficult is to figure out when I need more power and when more smarts. (Hmm, sounds stupid: more smarts is always good :-) ) Yesterday the first ~2mi DW were very frustrating. Big stuff coming through, not that fast, but almost no wind. Getting on took all out power, and staying on was impossible for me, and there was nothing intermediate to surf as transition 'til the next big one. The next 2mi had more wind and suddenly everything started to fall in place: much less power, more linking, more opportunities, nice flow, etc.

I wish I had the opportunity to see what better paddlers than me do in the same conditions... As is I always wonder: is it a matter of power, is it a matter of skill, or is it just impossible?

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1 month 3 weeks ago - 1 month 3 weeks ago #40070 by LaPerouseBay

I hadn't considered that. I'm below 160lbs (trying to gain weight...). I do like the way Nelo has different versions of the "same" boat for different weight paddlers.
The physics are against you. LIght paddlers have more challenges linking bumps. That 'y' axis is the key. Fat guys have momentum that carries them right up to things a light paddler can barely scratch back up to. I see it a lot over here on the north shore. I cheated with my weight advantage extensively as a beginner in outrigger.
Ask a light paddler in your area that can downwind faster than the typical gym rat. The heavy meatheads around here are very fast on the north shore, but to get to the next level, they need better balance. It's very common to watch fat guys fly and light paddlers wallow. We have some light paddlers that can beat fat guys. It can be done. We also have big guys that go a lot faster than the big fat cheaters that rely on weight.
Most of those big boys that get to the next level in outrigger are damn fast in elite skis too. Kai Bartlett is one of them. He's so much faster than the big fat cheaters... well you just have to see it to believe it.
The smart guys and girls - big and small - that get to that next elite level downwind, do it with with balance. It's just how it is. Ask any pro. Balance, power, speed.

downwind dilettante
Last edit: 1 month 3 weeks ago by LaPerouseBay.
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1 month 3 weeks ago #40071 by tve
Replied by tve on topic stayin' high on da wave

The physics are against you. LIght paddlers have more challenges linking bumps. That 'y' axis is the key. Fat guys have momentum that carries them right up to things a light paddler can barely scratch back up to. I see it a lot over here on the north shore. I cheated with my weight advantage extensively as a beginner in outrigger.

Ha! You're saying I should save my money and not get one of those 8kg pre-preg surfskis :-) Keep my "heavy" V12 ultra and use the money saved to eat some big dinners :-) :-). Also put a 10lbs bag of sand in front of the pedals... LOL!

I wonder how this changes in light conditions, though...

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1 month 3 weeks ago #40072 by Dratz
Replied by Dratz on topic stayin' high on da wave
La Perouse Bay that section at Maliko looks familiar in places to one of the (many) hurdles I’m working to overcome. It looks to me like you have at least two trains of swell running in similar directions. In a few places (eg early on around 0:17) you appear to have great positioning, high but definitely at the front edge of a swell peak, when the peak stretches into a plateau and suddenly you are behind a hump. Like your dromedary has sneakily turned into a camel as the faster train passes the slower.
It is at this very moment that hard won momentum can be lost. The two options seem to be to sprint hard at the “plateau” phase of this cycle and stay ahead of the faster peak, or turn diagonal as the faster one passes under to avoid paddling dead uphill. Then spin straight as you did and accelerate onto the next wave. There is always a speed penalty though with this approach, with a jagged Garmin trace betraying the loss of glide.
As one of you mentioned this seems to happen more in light wind conditions where the difference between wind chop and ground swell speeds are too great for someone of my speed and weight to bridge without a lot of effort.
When I look at videos of myself in these “technical” conditions I lament all those runs apparently getting ahead of me. Just seems to me there’s no where to take your speed in this situation.

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1 month 3 weeks ago #40073 by tve
Replied by tve on topic stayin' high on da wave

Just seems to me there’s no where to take your speed in this situation.

I believe it depends on the conditions and the wave. Sometimes I can sprint and get in front of the new bump. Sometimes going diagonal leads off the side of the wave onto another one that is offset. Sometimes going diagonal is just a graceful way to let the wave pass without loosing all speed (as you mention). Sometimes, no matter what I do it just doesn't flow... But I do believe that the diagonal has the best average outcome.

I've found that having a fixed strategy of "I'm on, now turn right" (or left) is a great learning tool. It's probably a good strategy, you get a sense for how it works, then as you get tempted to sprint straight you can compare and learn.

I've been wanting to cross-check the gps-reported speed of my fastest 1km for various outings to the actual straight-line speed...

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1 month 2 weeks ago - 1 month 2 weeks ago #40080 by zachhandler
Replied by zachhandler on topic stayin' high on da wave
Wrong thread. I deleted post.

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
Last edit: 1 month 2 weeks ago by zachhandler.

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1 month 2 weeks ago #40081 by tve
Replied by tve on topic stayin' high on da wave

All of the above. I would differ in one thing from MCImes.

I hope you found this thread interesting ;-) but it looks like you responded to the topic of a different thread...
But now that you're here, maybe you can say something about stayin' high on da wave? ;-) ;-)

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1 month 2 weeks ago #40082 by zachhandler
Replied by zachhandler on topic stayin' high on da wave
Oops! Thanks i will repost in the tight place.

I know what the view looks like from high on the wave but I have to make a conscious effort to be there. Does not happen on its own that often for me. I have to flirt with falling back off the wave most of the time. When the position is perfect and i just sit on that directors chair it is awesome. But generally takes active management with leaning forward and back, paddle strokes and drag brace. High on the wave and going diagonal is magic. The space opens up and there are lots of possibilities. I paddled 5 years before i was introduced to the concept of high on the wave by boyan.

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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1 month 2 weeks ago #40105 by LaPerouseBay

Yesterday the first ~2mi DW were very frustrating. Big stuff coming through, not that fast, but almost no wind.
I wish I had the opportunity to see what better paddlers than me do in the same conditions... As is I always wonder: is it a matter of power, is it a matter of skill, or is it just impossible?

It's impossible. Open ocean swells with a long enough period travel faster than anyone can paddle. It's a function of the swell period and the depth of the water.

Surfline has a great article about the formation and velocity of ocean waves, but it's behind a paywall now. You can google the math behind swells, the big ones are 30+mph, tsunamis can be 500+ mph.

Here's a teaser page Surfline has to the full article, I wish I had copied the entire thing... The conveyor belt idea is hard to wrap your head around. Watch for it when you fly over ocean water with a lot of wind on it.

www.surfline.com/surf-news/fast-swell-travel/87799

It's why I'm so fond of my south shore run. I can see the wave period grow as the miles tick off. Starting a run with zero fetch is a huge learning aid. Mile 3 to 4 is usually the sweet spot for me. I can surf around and keep up with the major swell. All I need to do is bounce between the moguls - like a pinball. But after that, they mow thru too fast for me. That entire run is basically a Kelly Slater wave pool for downwinding. It's why I try to make it tougher by practicing hard angles. I need to to develop the tools I'll need on the north shore.

Maliko is a much different idea. That fetch can be almost from Baja Mexico on a good day.

I refer to this site every day, to see the fetch.

earth.nullschool.net/#current/wind/isoba...ic=204.48,20.06,1684

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