Interviews by Rebecca Parsons
Five weeks and counting until the biggest SUP event of the year, the 2018 Pacific Paddle Games presented by Salt Life. While that date is rapidly approaching, there's still time to sneak in some last minute training. Whether you're a rookie or a seasoned racer, it never hurts to gather some advice before the big day. To help, we've rounded up some pointers from seven of the best racers in the sport. Time to hit the water! –RP
I always love going back to Dana Point each year for the PPGs—the best of the best are there and the conditions are fairly unpredictable so you never know what you may get on the day. A tip is to not let yourself get over-awed by the situation and just focus on yourself and what you can control. Just go out there, do your best, and most importantly, enjoy it!
Study the course map and try to recreate the scene at your home break—put it into your training program once a week. You don't need all the buoys out, just use landmarks or set it into your GPS. Make sure you practice turning both ways and in the wave zone.
Practice your beach starts, buoy turns and wave riding because being confident in those areas will set you up for success at the PPGs! I always do my best to keep hydrated and fueled up at least two days prior to race day because long days on the water and at the beach can drain you!
Be careful of the drop off on the start, sometimes you have to leap a little to avoid hitting your fin on the rocks. When you’re in the surf zone, don’t stop and wait for a wave—if a set comes you'll get tumbled by the waves and that's never fun during a race. For the distance race, there is usually a wind going from north to south, so prepare for both up and downwind conditions, as well as side swell coming at you if the direction is right.
Bring a water pack as the heat can be brutal. Bring at least two leashes—usually there are heaps of people breaking them, so it’s better to come prepared and bring an extra one. I would suggest to come to the beach a few days early and [ride] the waves, it’s a pretty special wave and I find it easier to race after a couple of days of practicing at the actual race venue.
Doheny provides the perfect venue for a challenging, yet forgiving surf course race that gives athletes the chance to explore their technical surf race skills. If there is a swell while the PPGs are held, then I would suggest going to play in the waves as soon as you can before the actual race day to get a feel for the break. A technical suggestion is when you are coming into a buoy that is inside the surf and there happens to be a wave behind you, make sure you get as far back on your board as you can and brace, even let the wave go in order to get around the buoy.
Look at the calendar and mark the date of the race. Make a plan to do the best you can do. If the race is 10 miles, train 15. You don't win the race on the date; you win the race when you're alone watching TV and you know you have to paddle!