Seeking advice on upwinds:
On the windy days, the bumps I paddle in the Bay Area (California) are no more than 3-10 feet apart from each other and have a very high frequency of hitting my boat while going upwind. Vertically they range from 1-3 feet. I want to ask for opinions of paddling upwind on water that is strictly windpowered. I do not have much experience on "swells." The craziest day I went out had 30mph winds with bumps that were about 3-4feet high and huli'ed 3 times as it picked up my ama.. It was pretty scary when the waves + wind comes from the front left.
Should you aim your OC1 directly against the bumps, or have a slight angle? How would you "surf" upwind?
Is it bad to paddle directly into the upcoming wave?
Should your stroke be cut shorter? Or pull back longer? Should your frequency increase or decrease?
I know it's bad to lean left, but how can I get more comfy in crazy tippy conditions?
I've done more of a flair with my paddle to avoid the wind from pushing back on the face of my paddle, but I wanted to see what other people do on upwinds.
Submitted by sirmomo on Thu, 05/31/2012 - 8:16pm
What I've been taught: (may or may not be contrary to others)
Paddle into the swell at a slight angle. This will reduce the intensity of the ride slightly.
You can get some speed down the back side of the wave. If you've got longer period swell (which it sounds like you don't) you can actually generate some decent hull speed with a quick burst of speed down the back of a wave.
Lengthen your stroke a bit and slow the rate down.
Fri, 06/01/2012 - 2:34am
It's never, ever going to feel good paddling into a 30 mph headwind at any angle doesn't matter if you're Joe Blow or Danny Ching or Big Toddy. But in milder conditions I recommend:
Balance: Practice your low brace when paddling on the right. Eventually you will be more comfortable in all conditions when on the right side because you can easily bring the ama down in a split second. When you're on the left side, you don't have time to bring the paddle across, so the best way to save an imminent capsize is to low brace with your right hand in the water. Spend at least a few minutes every time you paddle working on balance skills- it will pay off faster than anything else.
Stroke rate: Going upwind you're basically in low gear the whole time. Just like a race start. There's no glide, so you're re-starting every time you get knocked by a wave. You should choke down a bit with your bottom hand so your paddle becomes a shorter lever. Your rate is a function of 2 things: Time spent in the "planted" power phase and time spent in recovery. Your hull speed determines the time spent in the power phase: Faster hull speed= less time pulling the canoe past your paddle. Upwind your speed is relatively slow, so your power phase will be slower.
Your recovery time is other major variable and going upwind you need to spend less time in recovery because you have no glide and you're slowing down the instant you stop applying useful force on the paddle. So your overall rate will probably be slower than it would on the flat or downwind, but the recovery will be quicker so the rhythm is different.
Angle: In light wind it can make sense to take the swells at an angle if it allows you to carry a higher speed. In heavy wind I've found that it takes a lot of rudder and steering strokes to maintain an angle, basically as soon as the wind wrenches the nose of your boat to the side it takes a lot of work to make forward progress, so it's harder than just going straight into it.
In general: Most guys fail to get a good catch going upwind. That's because if you grab solid water way up front, it feels extremely heavy and difficult at the beginning of your stroke. This is actually a good thing but is very uncomfortable. So what usually happens is you cheat and plant the blade late in the stroke where it feels much easier. If you hear/feel cavitation in your stroke that's almost surely your problem. Watch out also for the non-vertical paddle on the right side. If your top (left) hand drifts toward the center of the canoe you will start cavitating and losing power.
If you really care about race performance, forget about upwind training and do as many downwinds as you can. Downwind skill pays huge dividends compared to your overall strength/fitness, whereas upwind skill has a much smaller payoff. It breaks my heart to hear you describe paddling against 30 mph bumps. You are in fact aware that you live in one of the Meccas of Great American Downwind training grounds? Maybe one of the Wavechaser guys will read this and stage an intervention for you, and in a year's time we will all be laughing about how you used to care about paddling upwind... seriously though start by working on the balance drills everything else is secondary. Good luck- Patrick
Fri, 06/01/2012 - 11:10am
It was only in these last two weeks the wind has ridiculous here and I wanted to take advantage of that. generally it's pretty flat and calm and the only exciting thing to look forward to is the tide. I think it'll be a while until I paddle 1.9-2.1 mph upwind again.
It bugs me that when I try to do long strokes or short strokes... the outcome seemed the same, but more energy used up on the short...
Fri, 06/01/2012 - 12:37pm
Hope this helps....
1. Stroke - keep it long & strong, quick recovery
2. Angle - aim to keep your bow 5-10deg to the right or left to avoid crashing & seesawing over the top of the chop
3. Core - work on your core strength to help your drive & balance
Fri, 06/01/2012 - 3:01pm
"It bugs me that when I try to do long strokes or short strokes... the outcome seemed the same, but more energy used up on the short..."
Maybe your definition of short is too short and your definitino of long is what other people would consider short.
Fri, 06/01/2012 - 3:18pm
why paddle upwind, that's what cars are for. Shuttle up, paddle down.
Fri, 06/01/2012 - 4:27pm
Sirmomo, Where in the bay are you paddling?
Sat, 06/02/2012 - 9:00am
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