One of the most exciting aspects of being the proud owner of a paddle board is the ability to race it if you so choose. Across the United States and beyond there have been a bevy of races sprouting up from organic origins of like-minded people wanting to put on an event for paddling and racing. If you are located on the East Coast we recommend checking out one of our previous blogs here. It details our top 4 races being put on this year located in relatively close distance to our home town, Ocean City, MD. If you decide to go to a race this year, then a general guideline of what you need to succeed in your pursuit of racing is necessary. This list is that guideline. It does not contain everything every racer uses but only the basic essentials in order to get you out on the water, having a great time, all while not feeling completely lost while doing so.
5. Race Training Program
If you have never been a part of a race or would like to push your training to new limits, a race training program is a necessity and key for reaching your fitness and sup goals. These programs are detailed descriptions about what exercises to perform on land or in the water, mileage to cover, when to go, and if they are incredibly detailed, what food to eat to recover from your workouts. They may also encompass tips on how to increase your technique to make the most of your paddle strokes in the water. For any beginner or seasoned paddler a program is a great way to stay on track and motivated.
Great examples of what a program looks like and to get involved in one around your area you can check out a few local companies in the Maryland/Delaware area.
The Speed Coach GPS is the full-featured paddling performance monitor designed to maximize your training effectiveness. It gives you detailed insight into your speed, stroke rate and stroke run on any paddle board you have in your quiver. You can also add the Training Pack option for easily programmed built-in workouts and detailed post-row stroke and split data review.
The NK Seed Coach is a must have for any avid paddle board racer. Unlike other GPS units this one tracks your strokes per minute, which is an amazing piece of information when testing out new gear- such as paddles or boards. The team at Walk on Water have personally owned and tested all the features on the Speed Coach and we all feel comfortable when saying- we highly recommend it in order to get faster on the water! Which is, of course, the main idea behind racing a paddle board. This nifty tool will give you the details to increase your speed and become the best paddler you can be, regardless if you are racing or not!
Almost every racer will tell you about what their favorite fin setup is on their board. With every fin size and shape comes a different purpose. A longer fin will increase your glide, giving you a more efficient stroke. Shorter fins are easier to maneuver, and allow you to attack those buoy turns with ease. A wider fin will increase your stability in rough water but will make your turns much slower. Clearly, they all have their positives and negatives. But, whether it be a longer fin, a wider fin, smaller fin, it all depends on your comfort level and your paddling technique. However, there is one thing they all agree on, and that is a race fin is necessary in order to get the most out of your board and your stroke. And in order to find out which fins bets fits you, a little trial and error may be necessary. For more information, check out our comprehensive review of the types of fins we have in shop!
One of the most important factors in starting to race and continuing to do so successfully is your paddle. Leave that old aluminum adjustable behind when you get out there on the water with the other racers. In fact, go ahead and toss it out because once you purchase and use a carbon fiber race paddle, there is no going back.
Much like the previously mentioned race fin, paddles are not a one-size-fits-all piece of gear either. The best thing to do when you are looking to purchase one is to demo a few back to back to see which one feels better in your hands- which you can do by calling the shop! (410-289-8787). The size of the blade, the shape of the shaft, and the degree in which the blade sits all creates a different feel to every paddle on the market. In shop, some of the most popular paddles we carry are the Wener Grand Prix and the Evolve 3k Carbon. Both companies produce a great race paddle with different size blades to fit all needs and body types. A good guideline to follow however is, the smaller the blade, the less pressure you are putting on your shoulders, but also the less water you are moving with each stroke. But, with that added benefit of less stress on your shoulders comes an increase in stroke quickness, essentially doubling how many times you paddle as opposed to a larger blade. There is a big give and take, which makes it difficult to suggest a certain paddle to a racer without them trying it out first. So, come on into the shop and we will provide expert customer service and advice for every purchase!
Duh! Did you think it would be anything different?! We know, it is an obvious choice for our number one spot, but it's obvious for a reason. The right race board will make your experience on the water leaps and bounds better. A race specific board consists of a pulled in nose and tail, a more narrow deck, and a cutting nose in order to increase speed on the water. Different brands have different styles. For example, Starboard produces one of the most popular and fastest boards on the market today. In their words, the 2018 Starboard All-Star 14'x24'' board is, "Extra fast from the narrow outline. Insanely lightweight and now incredibly stiff from the Airline technology, the 24″ is the real companion for any serious racer. Narrow width is designed for lighter and higher skilled riders that want the fastest speed from the reduced wet area." Every dimension on a race board means something. As pointed out by Starboard, the width will increase your speed but decrease your balance. The shape of the nose and tail will either allow you to cut through the water or glide on top. And in some designs, a recessed deck will decrease your center of gravity with the idea here being increasing balance and the ability to sink your paddle in the water faster.
Much like the paddles and fins though, every board feels different for every paddler. Which again, makes it paramount to stop into the shop to have a conversation with us about a race board and see which one fits you well! Of course, we offer demos for any race board you are looking to purchase. Let us help you get on the right board, get out to your first race, and have fun doing it!!