Paddler Profile: Tony Galang – From Flatwater to Ocean Paddler

Editor’s Be aware: Cleveland’s Tony Galang is an skilled paddler who has competed in a number of endurance races, together with Chattajack and SeaPaddle NY.  After a visit to Oregon’s Hood River and a subsequent journey to Maui, he was bitten badly by the downwind bug. He has since participated within the Maui to Molokai race and has made a number of Maliko Runs each on sup and foil winging.  We requested Tony to inform us how a landlocked midwesterner made the transition from being a flatwater specialist to ocean athlete.

By Tony Galang

Like a lot of you, I started as a flat-water paddler.   Being from Cleveland, OH, I paddled Lake Erie when it was flat, together with a pair native rivers and a close-by reservoir.  I didn’t actually look after uneven water and didn’t actually perceive what downwinding was.  In the future in late summer season 2014, whereas visiting our native SUP store, I noticed {a magazine} that includes the current Molokai to Oahu (M2O) race.  Connor Baxter was on the duvet, browsing down some enormous swell on a limiteless rudder board, on the way in which to successful the race.  I keep in mind commenting to the shop proprietor, “32 miles of open ocean and swell.  That is unbelievable!”  I had by no means paddled on the ocean, aside from a really protected session on Waikiki Seashore in 2012.  I had solely surfed twice on trip, however it wasn’t a ardour of mine.  I felt open ocean downwinding was untouchable.

Quick ahead 4 years to 2018.  I had actually loved coaching and racing SUP.  I used to be on a 24” vast board.  I had carried out 4 Chattajacks, 4 SeaPaddle NYC races, two Graveyards on the Carolina Cup, and quite a few different races.  However I nonetheless had little or no ocean expertise, and solely carried out a few crappy downwinders on Lake Erie the place I actually wasn’t catching something.  That’s when John Beausang, founding father of The Distressed Mullet, and co-founder of Paddle Monster, got here calling.  He was placing collectively a home for the July occasion in Hood River and invited me.  The subsequent factor I do know, I’m taking place the Columbia River, getting my ass kicked, with my board flying over my head within the 25 MPH + winds on my first 8-mile Viento run.  I used to be destroyed from that run, however I knew a swap had flipped inside me – I LOVED DOWNWINDING!

Fellow flatwater paddlers – you must strive downwinding!  The adrenaline and athleticism of hammering 5-6 paddle strokes to catch a swell, leaping again in your board so your nostril doesn’t catch, using the wave whereas steering and on the lookout for a connecting wave, and paddling and conserving your steadiness via your entire course of is unmatched.  This sequence happens over and over in your total run.  You’re reaching coronary heart charges you not often hit whereas flatwater paddling, however you don’t really feel drained.  You’re feeling exhilarated time and again, till you’re completed.  Then the fatigue hits you.  My outlook on paddling modified with this journey to Hood River.


The Hood River expertise in July of 2018 led me to Maui in December of that 12 months, the place I did my first Maliko run, accompanied by Jeremy Riggs (my information) and Suzie Cooney (who got here alongside to benefit from the circumstances).  From 2019 to August 2021, there have been annual journeys to Hood River (together with downwind races), and two Maui to Molokai (M2M) downwind runs with a help boat.  I had fallen in love with downwinding!  Additionally in 2020, I began understanding weekly with Suzie Cooney through Zoom, specializing in steadiness, core energy, and mind coaching.  Whereas Coach Larry’s Paddle Monster weekly paddle and energy regimens have been nonetheless the principle a part of my coaching, including the extra classes with Suzie helped my steadiness and studying curve.  I discovered myself falling much less on downwind runs.  I additionally realized to wing foil that 12 months.  The steadiness coaching shortened my studying curve and particularly helped me with leaning to foil with my left foot again (my weak aspect).

Lastly in 2022 the M2M race was going to occur.  I went to Maui in mid-Could to coach and enhance my downwinding.  My buddy Lisa Schell (’s Managing Editor) had moved to Maui in November 2021 and was gracious sufficient to host me for my first month on Maui, lend me her SIC Bullet, and giving me  rides to the Maliko Gulch if I couldn’t make the shuttle.  I did 3-6 Maliko downwind runs every week, with every run being 10 miles.  There was no one to coach with as a result of virtually everybody on Maui is in outrigger canoes, winging, or downwind foiling.  I needed to prepare out on the ocean myself, fending for myself.  Apart from Conner Baxter and me, all the opposite opponents in M2M have been from Oahu or got here in from the mainland USA simply earlier than the race.

Every week I’d message Coach Larry in our discussion board and ask learn how to modify the week’s coaching program to a purely downwinding plan.  Within the month and a half earlier than the race, I surfed a pair instances and did 1-2 flatwater exercises within the early morning at Kahului Harbor, however every part else was downwinding.  I’d range the quantity and depth of my runs to considerably mimic the workload and depth of that week’s Paddle Monster exercises.  I’m additionally an enormous believer of weight coaching, so I used to be within the health club three days every week.  I’d be too drained to raise after doing Maliko, so once I was doing each, I’d raise first, after which head for the Maliko Shuttle which provides you a one-way journey to Maliko Gulch the place the run begins.  I used to be additionally understanding with Suzie Cooney, in-person, each Wednesday.  In my greatest coaching week in June, I did a double Maliko run.  The proprietor of the Maliko Shuttle waited for me to complete my downwind run, after which gave me a journey proper again to the gulch so I might do a second run.  I really like downwinding!  So doing 20 miles of downwinding in a day or doing a weight coaching session adopted by a Maliko run was a beautiful day!

The M2M race was on Friday, July 8, and we had some epic circumstances.  25 MPH + winds with 5 – 6 foot swell.  Within the first a part of this race, you cross the Pa’iolo Channel, taking swell in your proper, largely paddling in your left, and making an attempt to not get pushed too far left.  You need to get throughout the channel so you may line up the swells that run parallel to Molokai.  Whereas crossing the channel, you may often take a swell to the left (west) when the chance arises, however you additionally need to steer to the fitting, particularly on the finish of the journey, to remain on the right track to cross the channel.  Should you take too many rides with the predominant swell, you might be delaying your straight downwind run, and making the latter a part of your race tougher.

The evening earlier than the race, I met with Keith Baxter (Connor’s father), who was my escort boat captain for my 2019 and 2021 M2M runs.  Keith grew up on Oahu and has lived on Maui since he was a younger grownup.  He has been a constitution boat captain for 25 years, owns a second dwelling on Molokai, has been Connor’s security boat for numerous M2M and M2O races, and traverses the Pa’iolo channel a number of instances every week.  I can’t think about anybody who is aware of that channel higher than Keith.  Once I met with Keith that night, he took a map of Maui and Molokai off his household room wall, pulled out a booklet with tide charts for the summer season, and we went over the course.  Keith defined how excessive and low tide have an effect on the currents within the channel, and the way I ought to regulate my course at sure instances within the race based mostly on altering tides.  With excessive tide altering to low at 12:30 pm, which was precisely 3.5 hours into the race, he recommended I transfer nearer to Molokai to keep away from the stronger present shifting in opposition to me within the deeper a part of the channel.

In each race I’ve ever carried out – when somebody is forward of you, you understand that.  When somebody is behind you, you understand thattoo.  In case you are catching somebody, you may see your progress.  Should you care to look behind you, you may see that somebody is catching you.  This isn’t the case with M2M.  Everybody can take their very own route and after about mile 4, the sector is dispersed and out of the vary of visibility.  You’re racing in opposition to your self at that time.  I attempted to take the route Keith beneficial, crossing the channel first after which taking place the coast of Molokai.  My route ended up being a bit of inefficient as a result of I crossed a bit of too straight and a bit of too rapidly, taking little or no swell to the left to chop the nook barely.  I arrived at Molokai farther proper (east) than I ought to have, which added to my route.  I used the altering tide to my benefit and moved up one place through the latter a part of the race.  Since I hadn’t seen anybody else in so lengthy, and pondering that the others took a poor route, I believed I used to be going to come back in second (to Connor Baxter).  Lo and behold, after I completed, I wandered across the dock to see who else I might discover, and realized I had come fourth.  Spencer Bailey, and wonderful downwinder from Vermont who got here to Maui only a few days earlier than the race, had beat me by 6 minutes, but I by no means noticed him.  One other racer from Oahu beat me by 9 minutes.  Connor beat me by 45 minutes.  I did the 26.22 miles in 4:08.  I used to be drained once I completed.  Exhausted.  Cramping.  I’d needed to handle cramps for many of the final 5 miles.  However, I had had expertise with that earlier than at Chattajack, the Carolina Cup, and the SeaPaddle.  I believe Chattajack in 2016, after we had horrible headwinds, was tougher.  So was the 2019 SeaPaddle, after we have been delayed by lightning and have been going in opposition to the present within the East River.  However the fixed browsing, shifting forwards and backwards on the board, and sprinting to catch the following swell, is further exhausting.  Nonetheless, it’s additionally enjoyable.  It’s a greater feeling of exhaustion than grinding out 32 miles on the Tennessee River or 25 miles on the East/Harlem/Hudson Rivers.  Afterdownwinding, you are feeling an exhilarated exhaustion!

I don’t know the place my downwinding will lead me subsequent.  I actually like to wing, and I additionally realized to kite this 12 months.  I’m being pulled in lots of instructions.  I’ve misplaced curiosity in doing M2O after they’ve canceled it for the final three consecutive years.  I nonetheless assume an annual journey to Maui for M2M and hitting Hood River on the way in which again to do the Gorge Paddle Problem, will change into the norm.  I nonetheless have a fantastic deal to enhance upon and I’ll proceed to study extra about steering the board the place I need it to go and connecting waves.

My recommendation to any flatwater paddlers who’re intrigued by studying this text is don’t look forward to an opportunity invitation to Hood River to jumpstart your downwinding expertise.  Provoke this your self.  Discover one other beginner to go together with you.  Publish on Paddle Monster’s social media to search out somebody.  Go by your self if mandatory.  Take cost of your studying curve.  You received’t remorse it.  I do know you’ll love downwinding too!

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