I think drafting is one of the most interesting skills in stand up paddle racing. It can turn a boring flatwater race into a strategic battle. It can help a weaker paddler punch above their weight. It can cause a mentally stronger athlete to beat a physically dominant one. I’ve seen it give paddlers a bonus 5-10 minutes in some of the longer distance races.
In short: It’s a legit tactic and I think it’s good for the sport.
A couple of years ago drafting was kinda controversial, however these days it’s pretty much an accepted part of racing. Some begrudgingly accept it, while others promote it as a legit weapon that you should have in your arsenal.
Serious paddlers even practice it in their training sessions, because they know that being able to draft is often the difference between being in contention at the end of the race and being half a kilometre behind.
Well now the excellent resource that is RidingBumps.com has a great article about drafting. And if you’re about paddling, you should stop what you’re doing and read it right now.
This piece came out last week and is a follow up to their earlier “Drafting 101” guide. While the “101” post talked about the basics, this latest drafting article takes it to a new level and gets right into the psychology of drafting.
As we’re accustomed with the Riding Bumps guys, there are some great insights in this piece.
I particularly love the comparison between drafting and the Hunger Games: While it’s beneficial to work with other paddlers during the race, you’re inevitably gonna turn on each towards the end.
I also like the “Contribute but conserve” model, which says you should do your bit on the front but not go crazy – that won’t help the train and it definitely won’t help you.
There’s a good bit on the rookie mistake of trying to “impress” the stronger paddlers in the train by going for broke when it’s their turn to lead. Or in other words: trying to be a hero. I’ve seen this happen plenty of times. It’s quite entertaining. Pretty sure I’ve been guilty of doing it myself once or twice…
Anyway check out the full article on RidingBumps.com. Well worth the read.
Then get out there and practice your drafting. Or as we call it in Australia: “wash riding” – because technically we’re not actually drafting at all, stand up paddleboards simply don’t go that fast…