Written by Vinni Martins
Photos: EuroTour, Thorsten Indra, Marko Butraković, Samir Kurtagić
How to have a better race day on your SUP
There are many different aspects that can make you faster at a SUP race and the possibilities change from person to person: depending on how much time you have to train, how long have you been practicing the sport and how serious you can take it. So in this post I won’t be talking about specific training programs or nutrition for example, instead, I will tell you about some details that, if done right, can lead anyone to have better race experiences in general. The tips here, which I’ve learned both by my own experiences and by seeing what other professional paddlers are usually doing, are valid to everyone. Following the steps here will help if you are a pro competing at a top level race or if you are a weekend warrior trying to beat a friend at the finish line.
1 – Check the conditions before
Be aware of how the conditions usually look like in the place where you are going to race. After this step you will know what board to take and you can plan some practicing sessions in similar conditions. Knowledge is power!
2 – Study to be focused
Do not only “learn” the course, but be 100% sure of the circuit! When you doubt for a second if you are on the right way, you will not paddle as hard and concentrated as if you would know exactly where you are going, avoiding a risk of being disqualified for missing a buoy turn. Apart from that, if you know that there’s only a 3 km distance or 2 more buoy turns to go, you will know when and where you are going to make a move or a sprint, having that confidence can change your race.
3 – Valuable feedback can come from the moments before the race
Pay attention to the start line, a good start can save you some precious time on your race. If you take a good look at the wind, buoys position, currents, waves and so on, always focusing on the possibility of making a great start, you will have a good advantage! If another category is starting shortly before you, pay attention closely to it and check who has got the advantage in the beginning and where they were positioned. It can easily give you 10 to 15 seconds of advantage in front of someone that paddles as good as you do. It may not sound like a lot, but if you try to reduce 10 seconds gap from someone by braking the draft and paddling away in the flat, sudden you will see that the heads up on the start might worth it!
4 – Be prepared
Have everything you need organized the night before and be early on the race day! Then, on the race morning you won’t be stressed and rushing, what saves you a lot of energy for the competition. You will have time to check the conditions, put in practice the other tips from this list and solve any unexpected problem. And have this task list with you as well! Why? Personally the it makes me sleep a lot better the night before!
*As an extra tip for the race preparation, click here to see the explanation of Vinni on how to position the fin in the finbox for different conditions.
5 – Plan the future
Set a short term goal that challenges yourself, something that is possible to achieve on your next race, so way you can keep yourself motivated and reach improvement at every race.
6 – And the most important is to…
Be calm and enjoy the race! Seriously, it may sound like a cliché but this is probably the most important tip of this list. It’s unbelievable how much energy the stress and anxiety can take away from you if they get out of control! Being calm is the best way to face anything unexpected during a race, and remember that this is why you are there, to challenge yourself and to enjoy this challenge.
I hope that this tips can help you have a better race day.
See you on the water!