After the recent Discovery Mens Health race from Fish Hoek to Buffels Bay two of the really good up and coming surfski paddlers( Sean & Jayden) came to me and asked how do they get better at downwinds, and why dont we do more downwinds in training. My answer to Sean was that we will definatly be doing more now that the wind is starting to blow and also that you still need to put in the hard yards on the flat water in order to shape at all the races as more often than not mother nature does not give you downwind conditions no matter how hard the organisers of the various races try.

Going past Partridge Point on the Fish Hoek to Buffels Race
Having said this the wind has really blown since then and we have got in some great downwind training in antisipation of Sean leaving for the International races in Hong Kong and Dubai. To me getting good at paddling downwind requires doing downwinds in as many different locations as possible, it is very easy to get good at your local downwind, kind of like your local surfbreak, but getting good at downwind requires training in all conditions. The FH- Buffels Run or reverse Millers are kind of like Milnerton-Blouberg straight downwind, wind generated swell all lined up,probably the easiest of the downwinds where as a Millers Run has a longer fetch (onshore) but still relitivly lined up. The difficulty comes in when the wind is behind you and the swell from a different direction as found mostly on the PE - EL and downwinds in Durban.

Alexa Durban World Cup 2008, Paul Marais PE -EL 2006 somewhere near Kenton
So  with downwind in mind we headed out on Saturday to do Hout Bay to Oceana (Cape Town WC course won by Dean Gardner 2004), 28km of hard slog not much wind big swell, really hard work but very good practice as it comes at you in all directions with a lot of rebound. The Paddle takes you out of  protected Hout Bay towards the Sentinel, Dungeons ( Home of The Red Bull Big wave Africa surfing contest) Seal Island, Llandudno, Camps Bay, Clifton and round the corner to Green point and Oceana.

The team all supporting Mo's for Movember, Passing the Sentinel.
It was really honest, an you had to work really hard for not much reward, but very good training and a honest day at the office which will hopefully stand everyone in good stead when the various races arrive.

Going passed Seal Island, Magic shot of Cape Town ( Table Mountain,Devils Peak and 2010 World Cup Soccer stadium)
So in closing get out and do downwinds in all different locations and conditions, the more you do this the more ready you will be for downwind races.