So… winter is in full swing now and those glassy light wind paddling days are probably far and few between. But just because it’s windy doesn’t mean you need to stop paddling. Don’t let the slightly windy conditions put you off going for a paddle this winter. There are plenty of days when it’s dry and sunny making it pleasant winter paddling conditions. You just need to be sensible and be aware of the weather conditions and the effect it will have on you and your board.
Here are SUPboarders tips to keeping you paddling through the windy winter…
Find somewhere out of the wind and chop.
Sounds like an obvious one but it’s not something people aways think about because they’re just super eager to get out on the water between the rain showers! Check the forecast and use the biggest paddlers friend ‘Google earth’ to scope out new areas where the wind will be the lightest e.g sheltered by a river bank or cliff. Off shore winds can produce great flat water areas but remember they can also be very dangerous and quickly blow you far away from land if you’re not careful.
Use a board that has more glide
A board with more glide will make you have a much more enjoyable session in windy conditions. More glide means less power needed to push you through the water, so you’ll need to use less energy to paddle against the wind. But be aware that a longer, high sided board will catch the wind and turn quickly with the wind when paddling across it.
Get your body lower to reduce windage
Get your back into it! By bending at the hips or dropping your top hand down the paddle shaft, and paddling less upright, you will reduce windage against your body. This will mean you have less paddling resistance and use less energy. And remember if the wind really picks up and you’re struggling to get to where you want you can always reduce the windage even further by dropping to your knees to paddle or lie down as a last resort!!
Paddle with a friend and learn to draft
It’s always a good idea to paddle with a mate especially in winter for safety. But why not make the most of them and try drafting! Sheltering behind each other (drafting) is an incredibly effective way of increasing paddling efficiency, thus saving energy and increasing speed. It can be really good fun too! Try paddling as close as possible to the back of your friends board (the bigger your mate the better!!) But remember the wind won’t always be coming from infront of you so stay aware and react to the change in wind directions. Keep an eye out for SUPboarders ‘Drafting’ article coming soon.
Don’t fight it, use it.
Use the wind to help you paddle and make your session more enjoyable. Plan a paddle from A- B making it into a mini downwinder. It doesn’t have to be on the sea. Why not find a nice long canal or estuary and arrange to be picked up or leave a car at each end. It can be a great way of exploring new areas and covering more distance by not having to paddle back on yourself.
Hopefully by using some of the tips above you’ll be able to enjoy more water time this winter. If you want to paddle there is always a suitable place to go… you just need to plan it, get out there and do it! But remember as with all paddling, wear a leash, tell someone where you’re heading and stay safe.
Or for those days when it’s just too windy to SUP, why not put a sail on your SUP (if it’s got an attachment) and have a go at windSUPing! A lesson first might be a good idea though!!