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Canadian Downwind Champs 2019 Race Video

Greg Barton:

People don’t realize how much hard work and how many setbacks there are before you reach success.

“Winning the race is the goal. But most important is the path you take to get there.”

“The most important thing in life is to enjoy what you’re doing.”

Greg Barton Leading Wash Riders 2023 Whey Ah Wichen Whipper Race


Photo: Coast Outdoors Facebook


Race Start and Wash Riding


  • Etiquette
  • Humor (practice keeping your sense of humor also, if you want to enjoy racing more)
  • Navigation
  • Race Starts
    • Julian Norton-Smith Podcast (Paddle2Fitness) choose #28
    • Races often start with an extended pickup (higher than sustainable speed) that quickly drops racers into groups that can sustain similar speeds but if you are not alert, you may miss your chance to grab onto the fastest group that you are capable of hanging with unless you quickly get into their draft.
    • Customs vary in different locales - if you are in a crowded race in Australia - expect a lot of contact during the start.
  • Speed Bursts
    • In high caliber racing, this technique - “pickups” or bursts of speed of varying durations to fatigue and/or drop opponents - is a given. In most race reports by top racers you will read about these. Learning when to most effectively employ them is probably a matter of experience, trial and error, and increased familiarity with your and other racers ability to sustain and absorb pickups. Also you will learn to recognize opportunities that offer better likelihood of dropping people off your wash or at a minimum make them pay more to hang on. Boat wakes in a race? - maybe the perfect opportunity to jump on them when it will be harder for your wash riders to stay on your wash. And of course it should go without saying that you will have done interval training. The primary difference in racing will be that your “recovery” between these higher efforts will be sustained at a higher level than the typical level of effort during rest periods in interval training.

Pickup in a Flatwater Marathon Race (notice at the end of the video the front group of 4 has separated from the pack and slows down to recover for awhile)



Basic Strategy

  • Much basic strategy should become obvious with a little experience.
    • Give rowers a wide berth
      • Similarly, even if drafting out of class is allowed, you may still find that SUPs and Va'as not having rudders, sway from side to side so much that you will not want to draft them or at least not be particularly close on their sides.
    • Races almost always start at speeds that few can maintain for the whole race. If drafting is allowed try to spot paddlers you know you can keep up with or are not too fast to draft and get close to them before the race starts. Then get on their draft and try to hang on until the pace drops to something sane.
    • One of the primary aspects of downwind racing is jumping and recovery. You should experiment with how many waves you can jump until you need to recover while you are still able to sit on a wave without losing it. Race course strategy may make a difference also if course conditions tend to be predictable. Where in the course is it harder or easier for you to jump waves? Can you work harder on a slower stretch then recover in a stretch where you can rely on waves that will maintain your speed better while you recover?
    • Is local knowledge available about where in a course favorable and unfavorable conditions tend to occur (wind shadow, eddies, currents, chop, rebound), and/or can you do your own pre-race scouting/trial runs?
    • Choosing the right surfski for the race

Learn from Others

Learn from Top Racers

  • Read racer's blogs: Depending on your level of skill you may or may not get much useful advice this way, but they are often at least entertaining
  • Jasper Mocke Interview 1 hr 18 minutes - lots of subject matter, includes racing experiences and strategies. Jasper starts talking at 5 min 50 sec, starts talking about racing at 18 min 35 sec
  • Danny Ching Interview 1 hr 2 minutes has raced SUPs, OCs, K1s, Surfskis, etc. etc. Link starts in interview where he starts to talk about strategy - lots of good stuff, particularly for ocean racing.


[More to be added here]

See Training for Races



There is a recent trend, possibly more common in colder climates, for triathlons to be offered that replace swimming legs with paddling legs.

Multisport/Adventure Races

It's quite common for these kinds of races to include paddling legs

  • Examples
    • Bellingham WA, USA Ski2Sea 7 leg race that finishes on Bay with kayak leg - all the fastest use surfskis

Long Distance Racing

Over time surfskis are becoming more popular for distance races that have been dominated by marathon style canoes and kayaks.

Nutrition, Hydration, Fitness


Reuters photo 2006 World Championships C4 200m final


Race Videos

Columbia Gorge Champs 2022

The racing learning curve may not be all easy, particularly ocean racing.

races/racing.txt · Last modified: 2023/10/18 14:29 by preavley