Racing paddleboarding: my start and the first five sessions

I have bought a racing paddle board and you know about that from my last post here. By the way, it has been a while. I was supposed to write about it but ended up getting busy with work, life and other projects. Yes, I got other projects. I even said I was going to build a rack for my boards but found out that there are too many roots where I have my boards that I ended up just leaving them there and using the inflatables as support for the racing sup. Anyhow… should write about that soon.

I have decided to take the racing paddling serious now (OOOOHHHH) and see how far I can go on this. I need to get active again, find a hobby and close to 40 years old a healthy hobby such as paddleboarding is a great idea. Constant cardio, fun on the water and a bunch of like minded friends. It’s my 5 or 6th time with the racing paddle board and between work and finding time to paddle I realized that the occasional paddle is not gonna cut it. I need to hit the water more constantly.

I realized that by simply paddling. The first time on the racing board feels weird. It’s wobbly and not as stable as the inflatable. It’s not that wide so… It goes faster but that doesn’t mean that it’s easier to paddle. It’s still hard, you need to apply the same power to make the board move forward. It does probably displace faster but you don’t feel that. Specially if you paddle with someone that is faster than you. You still be left behind even if you apply more force.

Strava didn't properly track Day #1.
Strava didn’t properly track Day #1.

Paddling with an experienced paddler makes you realized how slow you are. If you do it by yourself, you can take your time. But having someone next to you makes you want to keep up and one of their strokes means you have to do two or three and still you always behind. I have hit the water for the first time with the race sup with Tim Myers, a paddler from the 954 Paddle Crew in Fort Lauderdale. Tim has experience having completed some large races and is a leader with this local paddlers group. He is really humble and will give you tips about techniques and will keep them coming as long as you keep asking. It’s easy like that to learn from him.

The two times I have paddle with him were close to home after work at around 6pm. I was not tired but I had just worked in the office all day. My performance was not great. After 10 minutes I had to sit down on the board and we weren’t even going fast or steady. We were cruising on racing boards. My legs and feet felt heavy and he explained that that is normal and would go away with time. He also said that it gets easier every time. The more you paddle you get more resistant and stronger. It’s natural. Practice makes your body adapt to the activity you are trying to perform.

I have been reading and consuming a lot of information on paddling, racing, stroke, positioning, turning, etc… watching videos and trying to incorporate the lessons into my paddle. It’s hard in the beginning but I can now bend lower and reach further. As the lessons taught. I don’t do that as easily. Specially when tired I still tend to post and keep the body straight like a cruiser paddler. Not great. My board still goes all ways. If i paddle on the left, it goes to the right. If I paddle on the right, it goes to the left. That is technique I have read about but still haven’t mastered. My paddling on the first 5 seconds without warming up is weak and I sometimes touch the water when reaching forward. Mistake #2. You have to take every move and make it as effective as possible. I’m still a long way to go. And that’s fine.

To make sure I follow a proper routine, I decided to try to paddle every day and see how my ramp up goes. My reference will be every wednesday practicing with the 954 team. My first time with them I ate dust and couldn’t complete the full course. Paddling fast, changing sides and keeping steady is still quite hard. I also decided to hit the gym every day and increase my cardio from fast walking to running. I need serious cardio work.

Day #1: Close to home by myself

First day launched from this creek into the main river on the downtown area of Fort Lauderdale.
First day launched from this creek into the main river on the downtown area of Fort Lauderdale.

Saturday, April 20, 2019 was considered Day 1 of my 30 days routine. I did 1.5 miles according to Strava. Probably a bit more since I left the money on energy saving and Strava tracked the course straight like if going through people’s yards and not on the water. So weird. I learned now that in order for Strava to track your ride correctly, you need to remove the energy saving feature.

The tide was low and coming back in so I took the New River in Fort Lauderdale going up making my start easier. Passed under Broward Boulevard, all the way till 95. Because the tide was so low, I got grounded and several times could feel the fin lightly hover over the bottom of the river.

An island forms on the middle of the New River when the tide is this low.
An island forms on the middle of the New River when the tide is this low.
Board got grounded here.
Board got grounded here.

Started bending forward and reaching out. It feels good. You can feel the board moving. Also started reaching out across the board to the other side keeping the paddle straight and reaching down further into the water. You can only do that so much at first. It’s the proper technique but the arms feel sore soon. Will keep trying.

Not so heavy feet anymore. At least not in the beggining. Felt it a bit towards the end of the 39 minute paddle.

Underneath I-95 in Fort Lauderdale. Feels weird going underneath that.
Underneath I-95 in Fort Lauderdale. Feels weird going underneath that.

Day #2: George English Park on Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday Paddle on Strava. It's working properly now.
Easter Sunday Paddle on Strava. It’s working properly now.

Easter Sunday, April 21, 2019 was Day #2 leaving early from George English Park and heading north with the tide that was almost full. Do not my feet too much anymore. First five seconds the paddle felt heavy. Hit the water the paddle a few times reaching forward. No warm up, that’s what you get. After 5 minutes paddling up you start feeling it. The body is warmer and you feel great. It’s easy to paddle and reaching forward, towards the other side, keeping the paddle straight feels easy and I can do it steadily. I’m not going fast. Just trying to keep steady.

Beautiful day on the water in Fort Lauderdale. Easter sunday.
Beautiful day on the water in Fort Lauderdale. Easter sunday.

At this point I try to move faster. It’s still ok to move the body, try some moves on the board. A bit forward, a little wider stance, a bit back, etc… I have finally found the ideal paddle height for me, I think. I need to keep it at 195cm. Make sure to remember this. I break it down to fit it on the car. So every new session means putting it at a different spot. 195cm tall is what my paddle needs to be.

Glassy conditions on George English Park. See my shadow?
Glassy conditions on George English Park. See my shadow?

It took me 35 minutes to reach Sunrise Paddleboards. Sat down on their dock to rest, drank water and headed back. By the way, this is the first time drinking water. Should probably do it more often now with the water pouch backpack. Can’t forget about that.

The weather is not too hot this easter sunday in south florida but I’m sweating but not a lot. It’s sunny and beautiful out. Passed a father and his kid cruising around. Passed only one single boat this whole ride. It’s flat and glassy and not windy. Perfect conditions. Should have probably reported that on the beginning of this paragraph.

Drank all the 2 liters pouch.
Drank almost all the 2 liters pouch on Day #2.

Going back was against the tide that still seemed to be coming in. It felt harder but was still keeping steady. Looking forward to where I need to go feels like you want to be there. I look down just to the nose of my board. That is enough to keep me centered. Been trying to breath through the nose. I have a serious case of allergies that block my nose quite well. Today it’s pretty good. I tend to breath through my mouth a lot but could keep breathing through the nose quite a bit. The heart is racing more. I can feel it. I slow down but still stead. ONE TWO, ONE TWO. ONE TWO THREE. ONE TWO THREE. Started drinking more water.

After¬† 59 minutes I’m back at George English and still have energy. Got the board out of the water easily and put it on the car still with the body warm. Getting it out of the car at home was a mess. I do not have a lot of space in my drive way. Between the plants and the car is tight. Banged the board a bit. That doesn’t feel good. I should probably check the board and the car for scratches. Might trim the trees a bit…

Max Francisco

Paddleboarding and doing some projects online. https://technoloman.com
Max Francisco