The Hanohano race in Southern California is an example of what is typically a good location to race for the first time.
SAN DIEGO, California - Sometimes as individuals become familiar with stand up paddle, they are very excited about the idea of racing and can get a little ahead of themselves as they venture out into their first event. Unfortunately this can take the excitement and fun to levels of frustration and fear. Below are 10 common mistakes that are made by the first time SUP racer which will help you avoid them!
1. Not enough training:
Sometimes paddlers jump into a race with little to no training. This might be fine for some very fit individuals, but even for them, it is hard to know how the body will react to using specific muscles that may not be well conditioned. For those who come from other paddling backgrounds this could be a non issue, however, those who come from more traditional sports may be in for a big surprise.
2. The wrong water conditions:
First time SUP racers should be careful to consider the water conditions of their first race. It is safe to say that most first time paddlers will have a better experience in flat water as opposed to open ocean or choppy water. Unless a person comes from a strong water background, it is recommended that a nice flat water race be the first one to tackle.
3. Drafting without etiquette:
Once in a while a first time racer will think that they understand the concept of drafting and may have even practiced it a little prior to the race. However, without having had good communication and sufficient skills this could become a nightmare for both the new racer and others participating in the event. It is suggested that if drafting is a part of your race plan, make sure that you are sufficiently schooled, prepared and have a game plan that works with the other competitors and is within the racing rules.
4. Choosing a race that is to long:
Make sure that the race is the proper distance. For most who are new to the scene a race that is between 2 to 4 miles might be a good suggestion. This may not seem like a long distance but considering all the other elements one deals with on the water, this should provide plenty of mileage for a first attempt.
5. No safety equipment:
New racers across the country have been seen time and time again to not have any safety equipment with them. It just makes sense that if someone is attempting something for the first time that common sense would tell us to prepare for unexpected situations. Perhaps more racers should have a personal flotation device somewhere on board or at least use a leash.
6. Little to no technique:
Once in a while paddler will race with no idea how to hold the paddle or where to stand on the board. While this can be funny at times and make for some good stories, it can also lead to injury and a negative experience. Getting some sound advice and taking the time to talk to a few experienced paddlers can make a world of difference.
7. Getting trapped at the start:
This is a challenge not only for new racers but also for elite racers. There is an interesting combination of strength, conditioning, mindset and race strategy that make for a smart race start. Only you can know what will work best for you but there is definitely a skill to mastering this moment and learning how to deal with the masses and choppy water. Sometimes it's hard to simply get your paddle in the water but most importantly try to just stay on your board!
8. Using the wrong equipment / clothing:
Of course racing on a SUP surf board or SUP race board is just fine, but make sure that the size is a good fit. This is especially true of the paddle being used. Often time injuries occur because the paddle length is not appropriate for the racer. Remember that generally speaking racers use longer paddles and larger blades for longer distances but use shorter paddles and smaller blades for shorter races. Proper clothing can also make a big difference. Try to determine how hot or cold you will be and consider that your body temperature will change with the length of the race and with external conditions.
9. Missing the pre-race instructions/start of the race:
This happens all the time! Believe it or not the pre-race meeting can be critical. This is where any last minute instruction will be given about the course (which can change minutes before racing) and what competitors need to do to fully complete the contest. Believe it or not races can be very different especially when it comes to the type of start and finish. It is also very important to know how many laps to complete or if drafting will be allowed or not. Make sure and attend the pre-race meeting which will also ensure that you make it to the start on time.
10. Not racing at all:
Having said all of this, the biggest mistake any first time racer could make is simply not racing at all. Sure we all make mistakes and the first SUP race could be a little nerve racking, however, once you have a foundation definitely get out there and have some fun. Who knows, you may even find a new passion and become a great champion.
What other SUP race mistakes can you add to this list?