SUP Training Guide

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SUP Training Guide


Tips for a successful paddle leg of Race the State!

Now that Race the State is on your radar, its time to start thinking about a training regime that will have you performing your best on race day! Paddle Board RI is gearing up with RTS to offer a special discount for Race the State competitors who join our weekly Skills-n-Drills class. These classes are designed for paddlers that have the fundamentals down and now want to excel at specific skills such as distance training, interval training, pivot turns and advanced paddling techniques to up your game for race day.  Sessions will focus on different drills, training routines and time trials for participants to evaluate their performance over the course.

If it’s too early to think about playing in the water just yet, remember there are tons of other ways to start preparing for a distance SUP race, and to get ready for the other events at Race the State. Try adding cardio, such as jogging or jump rope, for the distance bike and run, if they are not already part of your routine. Indoor rowing and strength training will get you ready for the kayak crossing. And, if traditional methods aren’t for you, it’s always fun to step out of your comfort zone and try something new to keep you fit, challenge the body and mind, have fun and keep your goals in sight!

Know the Water

The paddle leg of Race the State crosses the Sakonnet River going East to West. For paddling on a river, current, wind direction and speed, and waves are important factors to consider. It’s helpful to get out on the body of water you’ll be racing on in different conditions to practice and be most prepared for race day!

Current: check the local tide chart to find out what the current is going to look like at the time you’ll be paddling. If the tide is coming in or out, you’ll have some push from the water either up or down the river, respectively. If the tide is slack (at peak high or low), you will not feel much current at all.

Wind Direction & Speed: If the wind is coming from the direction you’re trying to go and is decently strong, it can slow your paddling efforts significantly. The stronger the wind, the more challenging it will be to paddle against (or, the more helpful it will be if its coming at your back!). Usually, the wind is pretty light (low velocity) on summer mornings in RI.

Waves: while we’re on the subject of current and wind direction/speed… if you have the magical combination of strong wind against current, the result will be big waves. Those types of conditions are challenging and you must be prepared for this in order to be fast and, more importantly, safe!



Offseason: cross train for paddle boarding in the winter with Crossfit, indoor rowing on an erg, and these exercises that will help you build up the muscles you need for paddling.

Get out on the watertrain like a champion. Even if he’s not paddling, 2016 SUP world champion, Kai Lenny, is out on the water everyday doing some type of watersport.

Improve your technique: check out these tips from SUP expert Dave Kalama.Follow his blog for more tips.

Practice the start: “Don’t overlook the start!” says top ranked US SUP racer, Candice Appleby. “My favorite type of start is a running one because if you get a good skim, you can leave your competitors behind. Read more tips from Appleby here.

Get Inspired: the video name says it all: Stand Up Paddle is Amazing.


Practice, Practice, Practice…

Warm up for Race the State with some of these other local races:
April 30 – Run of the Charles, Boston, MA
May 21 – Mystic River Herring Run and Paddle, Mystic, CT
June 18 – SoundSurfer Waterman Challenge, Bridgeport, CT
June 19 – Charles Island SUP Cup, Milford, CT



Lifejacket: no matter your level of expertise, it’s always prudent to wear a lifejacket or flotation device when paddling out on the water. Race the State rules require competitors to wear a lifejacket or PFD during the paddle board leg of the race. If you don’t have one, you can purchase one from Team One or West Marine.
Leash: some may call it a “kook cord” but we don’t care, race rules require competitors to have and use a board leash. You can get one at your local surf shop.
Paddle: paddles can differ in material, length, blade width and height and palm grips. Check out this guide to find the right one for you.
Last but not least, The Board: length, width, bend, shape… there are many factors to be considered when choosing a paddle board! For racing, you want a board that is built for speed. Look for a board that has a displacement hull (pointed, not rounded), is long (>12′), narrow (<30″), and has straight stiff fins. If you don’t own a board and don’t want to, no problem! There are many local options for renting a board for race day.

Race the State will return in 2019

Race the State

Race the State