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5 Common Downwind Mistakes

Hi, I'm Robert Stehlik with Blue Planet Surf. And I'm going to talk about the five most common mistakes I see people make that are just used to downwinding, just getting into it. And I'm going to paddle as I'm doing it to demonstrate what I'm talking about.

Okay, so the first most common mistake people make is to paddle too much. Basically, not taking breaks when they're on the bump, gliding. Just using that constant steady stroke without taking breaks. When you're doing downwinders, you want to take breaks so you can catch bumps more easily. Take a few quick hard strokes into the back of the wave, and then glide. Let it glide.

Okay, the second common mistake is paddling for the bumps too late. So waiting for the tail of the board to lift up, and then paddling for it. A lot of times, that's going to be too late and you're kind of chasing behind the bump. What you want to do is when the... as the bump passes underneath you, you want to paddle into the back of it, and then let it kind of pull you along. I like to think of it as the waves pulling me along versus me riding the bump behind me. The wave in front of me pulling me along. So I'm paddling into that back of the wave in front of me.

The third common mistake is not to use the paddle enough for balancing, having the paddle out of the water. So always try to keep that paddle close to the water and if you need balance, then skim it. Use it like your third leg. So the third mistake is not using the paddle enough.

The fourth mistake is using the wrong board. Your first downwinder, try to get a downwind-specific board. There's a lot of really good boards on the market now for downwind paddling, like this 14 foot Bump Rider. Excellent board for catching bumps. It makes it a lot easier than using a flat water board with low rocker displacement entry. It's a whole different ball game using a board like that in the bumps.

Okay, and then the fifth common mistake is not standing in the right place on the board. You want to make sure you're not too far forward, where your board can't release when you're on the bump. So as soon as you're on the bump, you want to move pretty far back on the board. As soon as you slow down, you've got to move forward again. But just keep your stances general, a little bit more back. Then, when you're paddling flat water, you keep your weight right over the middle of the board, right where the handle is. In the downwinder, that's too far forward. So on my Bump Rider, I always keep my feet behind the handle. Then, also, I have a slightly staggered stance, as you can see. One foot is about six inches behind the other foot.

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