“I’m seeing opportunities out there”

on Apr 10 in Downwind, Skis, Think, Training by

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What does the above photo conjure in your mind when you look at it? If it excites you, then you know you have the downwind bug. Fortunately there is no cure, you can only feed this addiction by getting out in the ocean and chasing runs.

I was having a chat with a paddling mate recently. This guys is like so many of us, loves his paddling, loves his paddling toys, enjoys getting out in the ocean racing and thrives on improving as a paddler. One thing he said struck a chord with me. We were discussing the black art of downwind paddling and how he was developing as an ocean paddler. Discussing the various theories of how to surf an ocean ski downwind, he made a very interesting observation…. “I’m seeing opportunities out there”. I pushed this a little further to get a clearer understanding of what he meant by this, and he basically said that a year previously, he wouldn’t have seen in the water what he does now. Rough water, or a crest, would have meant instability and maybe a brace stroke, back then. Now it provides an opportunity to get the nose of his ski down, the craft sitting on a wave, and utilising the energy of the ocean to propel himself forward. And he is spot on with this observation. Seeing those opportunities is the first step to being a good downwind paddler, but acting on them is as important, and that means timing when to attack, and timing when to hold back.

So how do you develop the skill to see these opportunities that exist out there? How do you know when to lift the rating and charge onto a run, how do you know when to hold back and conserve? It’s a simple formula. Time in the seat. There is no substitute for time in the seat of your ski, getting used to how chasing runs feel. Only time out in the ocean will help you work out how to surf across the face of runs and swells, linking from one to another and hanging on for the ride. The great thing is that this time in the seat is simply awesome fun, and one of the things which makes ocean paddling so exhilarating.

I’m off now to go spot some opportunities of my own as the afternoon wind picks up. See you out there.

Stewart O’Regan

Think Kayak Australia

Mob:     0404 236 638
Web:     www.thinkkayak.com.au
Skype:  stewieor