Some people might say that I am crazy spending time with my boss on my day off, but when we are mapping out a special down wind paddle, I have to say Lars is right up there with the best of them. Planning a great down wind paddle requires leadership, teamwork, good equipment, knowledge of your local waters and basic paddling skills.
We start with selecting the route, which may take place the day prior to or the day of the paddle. This process can be as simple as stating that we are going from Beach Lane to Nappeague Lane along the ocean beaches at 1pm, or as complicated as pouring over charts and maps for what seems like hours, in order to cobble together the perfect course.
In order to pull off a great down wind paddle you will need certain conditions to be in place. Wind, direction and speed, swell direction and size, as well as, tide direction, in-coming or out-going must all be considered. My personal favorite is southwest winds, westerly swell and the start of an incoming tide along our south shore beaches. These conditions offer beautiful pealing waves that carry paddlers effortlessly along the beach. Conditions can change after you have set your course so make sure you check the marine weather forecast right before you depart.
When selecting your downwind paddling route, take your time and start with entry level routes with a duration of 45 to 60 minutes (4 to 6 miles). These routes will introduce you and your group to the downwind experience in a positive manner. Not unlike running a marathon it is easy to de-hydrate or bonk during a long paddle (i.e. over 60 minutes). Once you get the feel for the gentle push and glide of small wind swell, practice efficiently catching waves and maximizing the glide afforded you. Learn the area surrounding each paddle, subtle sandbars and changes in currents will impact your paddling conditions. There are some really fun intermediate level down wind paddles to be had all over the Peconic bay estuary
Once the paddling route is selected the roster of potential paddlers is reviewed. Down wind paddles or Down_winders require a combination of paddling skill, endurance and a passion for adventure. Some of our Hamptons paddling routes and conditions are perfect for new-comers to downwind paddles while other local courses will challenge the most seasoned waterman or women. The western Peconic bay is perfect for beginner to intermediate down wind paddles, with Noyac Bay and Northwest Harbor being popular choices. The Eastern Peconic Bay, Gardiners Bay and Block Island Sound all offer great intermediate paddles while the south shore ocean beaches rock out the most advanced paddlers. Our annual Montauk to Block Island charity paddle is the pinnacle of Eastern Long Island paddles. Visit http://www.p4h.org for more information or to sign up for next years paddle.
A good downwind paddle is one of the most fun and exhilarating outdoor activities that you can partake in. In addition to being fun, downwinders provide participants with a great workout. Core, Cardio, balance and strength are all tested during a good downwinder.
The equipment checklist is key for any down wind paddle. The board of choice is a high quality 12-6 or 14 foot touring / race board. At Main Beach Surf and Sport we favor the Bark Dominators from Surftech and the Hobie’s Raw Race boards in 14 foot lengths and the Candice Appleby Race and Lahui Kai’s in 12-6” length. NSP, Coreban and Corevac also offer excellent boards. A good carbon paddle from Werner, Kialoa or Quick Blade should be used as well. Always wear a leash and have a PFD on your board or person. Fall is a great time for downwind paddling. A light weight 3/2 wetsuits or a farmer john/jane bottom with a neo-top, in addition to, some 3 mill booties are all you need in order to be safe and comfortable during your paddle. On some warmer days you may get away with boardies and a rash guard. Main Beach Surf and Sport has a complete selection of Stand up Paddling gear in stock. Stop by any day 10am to 6pm to learn more about gear for down wind paddling.
Visit http://www.mainbeach.com for more information on stand up paddle gear.
With our route selected, our crew chosen and the correct gear pulled for the conditions at hand we are ready to set out on the paddle. Take time to warm up and do some dynamic stretching(mild strectching) prior to getting on the board and taking off with the wind. Also, make a trip plan with all paddlers. This may involve a resting place a mile or two out on the course, or a bail out point if some has equipment trouble. Having paddlres buddy_up is also a great idea., possibly pairing more experienced paddlers with beginners or first timers.
Once you shove off, its game on. The wind and waves will start to carry you along the prescribed route. Timing is key to catching wind swell and maximizing the glide afforded. Take is easy and focus on form. While initially you may catch fewer rides, as you get off-shore and into open water you will be able to catch rides consistently and start to work on connecting multiple waves. You will find yourself moving back and forth on the board in order to get into certain waves (moving forward) and maximizing glide (moving back) on others.
Watching an experienced down wind paddler scream along a favorable course is truly poetry in motion. Imagine catching multiple waves in succession, gliding along efficiently, sometimes-cruising 100 yards or more on a good run. Remember to keep an eye on your paddling buddies and make sure you are staying on course. Not everyone on the paddle will always be doing as well as you are. Also, subtle wind shifts can alter the direction your board is pointing in. Make directional adjustments early in the paddle as the longer you go, the harder it is to make corrections.
Once back at the launch site it is always great to take some time to stretch and cool down. Bring a hoodie, towel, sweat pants so that you can get into some warm dry clothes and enjoy some stories about the paddle.
Hobie and Bark race boards make excellent choices for down wind paddles. Stop by Main Beach Surf and Sport in Wainscott and plan out your first down wind paddle today..