Downwind Insight 8-5-08


I was waiting for the south swell that didn’t show up today.  Since I’ve been having fun doing downwinders and making decent improvements my new personal rule of thumb is that if the waves are less than chest high and the wind is 10 mph+ then I’ll do my best to go on a downwinder.  It’s more stimulating for me.  The wind started blazing today in the morning so I got together my buddy Luis who rode a Joe Bark lie down paddle board demo from Surftech and Kainoa Beaupre who rode the 14′ yellow Ted Spencer that I kept falling off of a few weeks back.  Incidentally, Kainoa paddled that board in the Molokai race (unofficially bc he missed the application deadline) under 7 hours.  That goes to show how it’s the rider more than the board (although the board definitely makes a difference).

Today I rode my C4 Boardworks Vortice 14′ and used my Infinity Ottertail paddle 84″ long.  Since this was Luis’ first time on the lie down board and this run in general, he ended up dropping me off at the park on the Koko Head side of Maunalua Bay and drove to Wailupe to launch.  I’m told that the Hawaii Kai to Kaimana Beach run is 9 miles and Wailupe to Kaimana is 5 miles.

The wind must have been over 25 mph+ today.  The ground swells were lining up great and I was excited because in no wind I did the run in 1:49 last week and was expecting a 20 minute drop in time today.  I was wrong!  Big Mahalo to Kainoa for hanging w/ me in the beginning of the run and teaching me some stuff.  I learned a lot by just watching where he stood on his board and he talked me through the first 20 minutes of the run.  Thanks for the help!

Then Kainoa decided it was time to really start paddling.  It’s a bit frustrating bc as he explained to me the direction I should be paddling and where to put my paddle, he caught some of the ground swells without paddling.  (After the run he even told me that it was painful to see me working so hard and not moving…lol)

In about 5 minutes on my own I ended up way offshore and Kainoa must have been 200 yards inside me.  Big mistake!  I got carried away on the good part of the run which is up to Black Point.  From Black Point to Kaimana (2 miles?) the wind blows offshore and side off.  I was paddling my butt off when after another 30 minutes I noticed I was outside the Diamond Head buoy.  The view of the lighthouse was smaller than the tip of my pinky.

It took me 40 minutes to get to Kaimana which is probably a mile or less and I could not help but get on my knees and butt and paddle upwind.  I can honestly say that paddling upwind in 25 mph + winds totally sucks.  By the time I got to Kaimana, Kainoa had already loaded up his board in his truck and changed in his biking clothes and shoes.  He must have been at least 30 minutes in front of me.  I need to watch my route better next time.

At that point we looked around and wondered where Luis was.  After talking story for 30 minutes or so I began getting worried.  Kainoa biked over to get a better view and spotted Luis paddling in.  Funny bc he wasn’t even tired.

Here’s my personal insights from today:

I’m spending too much energy by paddling at the wrong times.  I need to read the swell and wind directions and adjust better.

I should have paid more attention to Todd’s C4 Votice instructional video.  I’ve been standing only on the front of the board.  Kaipo G told me to stay in the front and that’s all I heard.  Up until today I stood between the handle area and a foot or two in front of it.  What I learned today is that once the board gets moving, the speed spot is 8-12″ or so behind the handle area.  I found this out by accident.  Once I stood in the back area I started catching all kinds of swells and connecting them.

When the wind blows strong offshore at the end of the run, I need to stay closer to shore for the beginning.  All the speed gain I get from the beginning is lost at the end by being out too far.

I need a more efficient stroke and a long paddle really helps.

High winds, efficient paddling and good swell direction makes for a super fun session that beats waist high waves anyday of the week.

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24 Responses to “Downwind Insight 8-5-08”

  1. Cliff 1Cliff


    Do you know of any SUP clubs that paddle regularly from Mauanalua Bay to Kaimana? I’ve always wanted to do that paddle, but I don’t want to do it by myself.



  2. Tony 2Tony


    Did you do a downwind today(Wed)? I saw two guys rounding the corner of Diamond Head around 1100.


  3. Evan Leong 3evan

    Cliff – Not sure of any sup clubs. I think people just hook up w/ each other and go. The best is when someone drops you off at the start so you can just go straight home after. It takes a lot of time for the logistics and driving otherwise. What downwind board do you have?

    Tony – That was Kainoa Beaupree and me. He was most likely in front. The wind and swell was much better yesterday.

  4. Evan Leong 4evan

    Here’s my insights for today:

    I did the run today w/ Kainoa again although he is way faster I got a head start because he paddled upwind to Portlock before heading toward Kaimana. We went with 2 of his friends but they got tired and ended up at Kahala instead.

    I used what seemed to be an 86″ or 88″ paddle. It was super long. It was a Quickblade Kanaha with a 9.8″ blade. The blade was huge. This paddle worked really well when the wind was at my back along w/ the swell. The paddle became an issue from Diamond Head to Kaimana. It is hard for me to use that long of a paddle w/ such a big blade and go upwind. The depth I could put the blade while catching swells made a positive difference. Longer paddles are a must. I can’t believe I was initially using my 75″ paddle.

    I did much better at connecting the bumps today even in little swells. It helps to be a bit back on the board for this. It’s counter-intuitive but works for me.

    I stayed on the inside, just outside the wave lineup and it made a difference. The time from Black Point to Kaimana for me was 40 min today. That’s much faster than yesterday.

  5. jensen 5jensen

    good write up. the other week when the winds were light, i did the 8.5 mile run in just under 1:30 on my xp, so today with the strong winds i was hoping for 1:25 atleast, but i ended up being slower. part of that was because i kept falling of my board whenever i would get a decent bump. checking my garmin, i think i fell off 18 times… shame.

    i do alot of stand up surfing, but for some reason, my xp seems opposite as to how i surf. i lean to the left, the board wants to go to the right, which is why im falling off so much. im new to distance paddling and ive been doing it for about a month now. this is my 2nd hawaii kai run with my board so im sure with more practice, i should be able to ride my board better. im usually in kaneohe bay paddling head buoy runs or heeia kea pier to kualoa beach park.

    see you guys out there!!!

  6. Evan Leong 6evan

    Jensen – You’re probably way faster than me. I’m waiting to try the full run on the XP. I’m currently on the Boardworks Vortice. The XP is definitely faster and I want to see if I can balance on it ok now that I’m improving. I hate falling off too. It just takes so much energy to regain the momentum. I’ve also been riding the F-16 and like it’s weight and glide.

    I noticed that the Vortice turns normally once I get a foot behind the handle (middle section). When I’m up front it seems to go opposite for me too. Once you get going on the XP try standing at least a foot back from center if you’re not doing that now. The board picks up a lot of speed when I’m toward the back in a good tail wind and swell.

  7. jensen 7jensen

    howzit evan. sounds interesting, i plan on doing another run sometime this week or at the latest, this sunday. ive actually been paddling on the front of the board alot, which like you said, might be my issues with falling. for me, it seems easier to catch bumps while on the front of the board. maybe this next run, instead of trying to get a good time, i will play around with positioning. i was afraid that if i stood to far back, i would miss the swells. there was a bunch of f16’s out today, and i got passed from all of them. also, they didnt seem to fall off of their board.

    at first, the xp seemed a bit rocky. but once you start going, its gets stable. i really like it in flat, calm water. when it gets bumpy out in the deep, it can get a bit tippy. also, riding the front is weird for me. when i start picking up speed on a swell, it will sometime catch a ripple and pull hard in that direction (if that makes sense).

    im sure a couple of more runs and i should be able to figure out the board a little bit better. my goal is to crack 1:20 on a shore to shore run. if i can minimize the falling, i should be able to cut a good 5mins i hope.

    evan, how often do you do the hawaii kai run?

  8. Evan Leong 8evan

    Jensen – The past 2 weeks have been great for wind and swell for these downwinders. I did one from Turtle Bay to Waimea Bay on Saturday and for the portion around Sunset Beach the wind, waves, etc were perfect. It felt like 25 mph + and I was catching waves, not bumps…it was unreal.

    I got thrown off a bit on the front riding of the Vortice in the beginning. Kaipo mentioned that the front was fast so I ended up staying there the whole time and tried the reverse steering action w/ my feet. That was a bit weird. Then my friend was helping me and I noticed he was way back on his board and was moving without paddling while he was talking to me so I started moving back and stayed there.

    What I noticed was counterintuitive for me. I started catching and connecting more bumps when standing back. Then I watched Todd’s video again on the Vortice and he says to stand in the back of center once you get moving and I talked w/ Mark Raaphorst who makes the F-16, etc and he said that once you get planing the enemy of speed is the wetted surface. Once planing, water on the board is friction so the speed spots on F series boards are way in the back. He even said that on big bumps he’s a foot from the tail. That’s far back.

    On the N Shore run my friend was on the Vortice Boardworks and once he stood aft from center he started gliding way better. The balance and steering is also easier from the back once you get planing.

    I know that Doug Lock, Jeff Chang and Kainoa Beaupree did that run yesterday also. If you saw Jeff, he was on an F-18. That’s a big and fast board. The other guys were on fixed fin Ted Spencer boards and they are just unreal paddlers in general.

    Your time is pretty good already. If I can get in the sub 1:20 time period then I may enter a race. I just don’t want to be way in the back. I also notice that I need to get more familiar with the best route to take because it makes a pretty big difference. Who knows…I’m still just a beginner at this?

    I’ve been doing the run a lot in the past couple weeks. The hard part is coordinating cars. Today I need to rest bc my back is pretty sore but I’ll be back in action on Tuesday.

  9. jensen 9jensen

    im unfamiliar with faces, but there was a bunch of guys and 1 girl with those f16’s. i started before them and they just took off. also, it must be nice with the rudder, making that turn at kaimana when the winds are strong sucks with a fixed rudder. talk about paddling one sided for awhile, lol. im planning on going sometime this week to do another run, and ill take your advice about riding the rear of the board. ill try different things. infact, i might do the whole run on the rear part of the board, just so i can compare time and average speed. thanks for the info!

    i met doug a few weeks ago and had a little conversation with him about paddling and what not, he’s a super cool guy. my conditioning is pretty good but my experience and skill is very lacking in the distance paddling department. anytime i get a chance to talk to paddlers, i do so to gain some insight and knowledge. i also work with with guy pere, but i havent had the chance to talk to him.

    maybe ill run into you sometime doing the runs. im usually by myself paddling ( my gf drops me off and picks me up at kaimana ). i have a red and white xp. lemme know how your next run goes. good luck!

  10. Evan Leong 10evan

    Hmmmm…not sure who that was. I really like the rudder but it’s a personal preference thing like everything else.

    Just talked to Doug today. Let us know what Guy Pere says or if he has any advice.

    Email me via the contact page and maybe we can connect for a run. You’re lucky your girlfriend drops you off and picks you up. Depending on what I’m riding for the day we can trade off for a little bit so you can see what other boards ride like.

  11. Evan Leong 11evan

    I wanted to ride a custom F-15 today so I did a downwinder from Hawaii Kai to Kaimana but there wasn’t any wind. To make it better, there also wasn’t any bumps. The portion from Hawaii Kai to Black Point (5 miles or so?) was pure endurance paddling.

    Turns out by Diamond Head there was some wind which seemed like a thermal but not sure. The easiest part of the run today was the Black Point to Kaimana portion. The wind was at my back and there was a little movement in the water. I actually caught 2 short runners just past Diamond Head and a decent waist high waves at Tongg’s.

    Here’s the confusing part. My overall time was 1:36 which is only 4 minutes more than my best time last week with 20+ mph winds and great swell. The F-15 really livened up when there was wind at my back and some swell to catch. I need to try it in high winds and swell to really be able to compare it.

  12. jensen 12jensen

    i took the advice you said about standing more in the back of my xp on yesterdays hawaii kai run. winds were decent, but it seemed to be at a bit of an angle. but all in all, i was surprised at the amount of bumps i caught. also, the board is way more stable when riding in the back. from the moment i left shore to the time i got on shore at kaimana, my time was 1:28 which tells me that riding the back might be the way to go. BUT when i came around diamond head to kaimana, riding the front seems best to catch those small little bumps. also the last 1.5miles going into kaimana seems to be the hardest if you are rudderless. the winds pick up and want to push you offshore and making the turn can be a pain in the ***. i think tomorow ( sunday ) we are going to do another run.

  13. Evan Leong 13evan

    Cool. I stand in behind center when the wind is at my back as well as the swell. Once the wind comes from the side or front I find that I need to move forward to keep the nose from catching too much wind from the front. I may go Sunday late afternoon.

  14. jensen 14jensen

    a little off topic, but do you know if they will allow beach entry for the duke paddleboard race coming up this saturday?

  15. Evan Leong 15evan

    I was told that beach entry is ok. The form is at the Duke site

  16. Guy 16Guy

    I have some advice if anyone is interested.
    I’ll start with the fixed rudder. My hat is off to you folks paddling a fixed rudder. I’m sure at least one side of your body is in great shape. I did some races on fixed rudder boards in the earlier stages of the SUP craze, and found it not very fun, and over the long haul not very good on the body. If you find the downwind sup the sport that you enjoy, I suggest you take the time to design a board and have one made, don’t just settle for what’s out there. Whether it’s fixed rudder, or open class, there are endless possibilities out there for fast designs. By the time you have added up all the costs of going through all the buying high and selling low of the boards that are molded. You would of probably spent close the same amount on a custom board that you designed to fit your needs. It’s good for the sport.
    Aloha, and good luck.

  17. Evan Leong 17evan

    Guy – I just had a similar conversation w/ Kainoa B after yesterday’s race. He’s 5′6″ and 150 lbs or so. The board for him is not the same for a 6′, 200 lbs+ person.

    Are you Guy Pere?

  18. Guy 18Guy

    I just think if you paddle the same board as everyone else you tend to get kind of the same results. I have had many a paddleboard shaped and not work out for me, but through that trial and error I have come to finally understand what I feel is a fast design for me, and have been able to transfer it over into an open class sup board. Now off this new sup I have already figured out what I would like to tweak to create the next one. That is just as exciting to me as connecting all the swells in a Hawaii Kai run. For starters look at what your paddling. Write down the pros and cons of the board. Think what you would like to change to make it better. If the board pushes water, maybe you want to drop the nose rocker a little. Write it down, and then go on to the next thing. If you do enough homework, and get with a good shaper, one who can understand where your coming from, you can have that killer board, or at least something better than what you may already have.
    Guy Pere

  19. Evan Leong 19evan

    Awesome advice…can you tell us what your progression of boards has been? I heard you used to ride that Joe Bark board and then now ride a custom Dennis Pang w/ rudder. Would you be willing to share with us what you find works best for you…of course w/out giving up the ’secret sauce’?

    What kind of paddle do you prefer?

    Any tips for beginners in paddling these downwinders?

    It’s pretty unreal because I didn’t even see you the whole race. You must have been finished by the time I was nearing Suicide’s.

  20. Evan Leong 20evan

    Jensen – Great meeting you in yesterday’s race. I saw you in front of me the whole time. You mentioned that you fall a lot during the run but I didn’t see you fall yesterday. All I saw was your back. lol.

  21. Roger 21Roger

    I’m looking for people to paddle with. From Hawaii Kai to Kaimana or whatever adventure comes up. Or looking for groups to paddle with. Please call 294-4310

  22. Evan Leong 22evan

    Roger – When do you normally go downwind? What board are you riding?

  23. jensen 23jensen

    hey whats up evan! it was nice to finally put a face to a name! sorry for the very late reply, but after that race ive been very busy with life and taking care of some stuff. im ready to get back in the water next week, so maybe ill run into you doing a run. i normally fall off alot, maybe that day i was lucky. or maybe it was the pressure! hahaha. the race was fun and i met alot of awesome people. but damn, was i beat and tired after the race. the last portion was killer! the wind and no bumps made it a good struggle.

    i was able to talk to guy after the race at work and got a good amount of information from him. im not sure how much a custom board will run me, but its something i definately look forward to. also, my lack of experience makes it hard to figure what i like or what i would want on my board. experience is something that i need. physically i feel pretty confident but reading swells and currents is something i dont know how to do, and i think if i was better at doing so, i would be a little quicker.

    hopefully guy will stop by to give us more advice. if i see him at work ill be sure to give him the 21 questions, lol.

    paddle safe!!

  24. Evan Leong 24evan

    Jensen – I know exactly what you mean about being tired. I was pretty sore after that race and definitely pushed it harder than I normally would have.

    We’d love to get advice from Guy. Please ask him to stop on by again.

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