SUP racing scene is taking off worldwide with inclusive and open event formats popping up and spanning mass participation and amateur SUP races where paddlers have a unique opportunity to paddle alongside pro SUP athletes.
A seamlessly executed beach start is one of the most challenging elements of open water SUP racing and a technique that gives paddlers a competitive edge when mastered.
Infinity Team Rider and Ocean Athlete Zach Rounsaville breaks down this striking SUP racing technique with his super slick beach starts. This hands-on tutorial focuses on beach start foundations, performance and speed to help paddlers get ahead of the pack and take their SUP racing game to the next level.
1. Paddle Grip
Hand placement on your paddle is crucial: Hold your paddle in the hand that will be your “bottom hand in your first stroke”, that way all you have to do is catch the paddle with the top hand and start paddling.
Experiment with the set up: Depending on your board size and handle set up, there are numerous options for how you can grip your board when setting up for a beach start. You should grip the board in such a way that easily allows you to control the pitch of the board while you sprint.
Transfer all that sprint power and speed onto your board: The key for stability in your beach start is speed, to help maintain the momentum from the sprint and get ahead of the pack you have to use your whole body to launch your board out in front of you. Imagine an outfielder or a wide receiver diving for a ball and you will have a good image of what your body should look like!
Faster for less energy: Doing beach starts in the flats seems easier to drive your body up in one smooth motion (similar to a burpee). When encountering waves, you want to take advantage of a little free energy available. Time your pop so that the momentum of going over the wave helps to throw you to your feet. Practice will help you get to your feet a little faster for less energy.
Warming up with a couple starts right before the race is a great way to wade out into the water and find the point where you are approximately knee deep. At this depth you have hit the trade-off between running speed and having enough water to avoid catching your fin. Aiming for that point when you launch yourself should ensure a clean entry.
6. “Beach starts are all about speed”: Questions answered
In a nutshell:
• Hands don’t change positions until you are actively popping up!
• When going into waves you want to always be perpendicular to the wave and place your board at the crest or slightly behind so you aren’t immediately smashed by it
• Speed is your friend and you want to go as fast as you can without rushing your movements
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