What's involved in downwind paddle boarding

So what should you consider

With downwind paddling, everything comes into play and it is even more important when the conditions become more advanced.

Do you need a specialised board for downwinding?

Depending on how far and the extremes to which you will go with regards to conditions, the answer is No, although using a board designed specifically for downwinding will improve your speed and ability to ride swells.

Downwind SUP boards typically feature a longer and narrower design with tuned rocker line and rails that allow you to properly steer when back and on the tail. A size around 14 feet long by 28 inches wide is commonly preferred for downwinding, but you can go a bit narrow if you have the skills.

Can inflatable paddle boards be used for downwinding?

With downwinding, you’re looking for a fast board that can be foot steered off the tail and rails. Whilst some of the more race shapes can be used, anything like a 10’6 inflatable paddleboard, really won’t work hat well.

Is a special paddle necessary for downwinding?

No, any decent paddle will work for downwinding. That said, you don’t want a short surf style paddle as you need to be able to tickle the water whilst being more upright. Adjustables are good if they’re a quality model, as they can be changed whilst you’re out on the water.

Where can downwinding be practiced?

Obviously, you’re going to need wind and waves or swell to help you catch bumps. Start off small and possibly onshore conditions so you have to paddle out then ride back in.  Some big lakes get plenty of hop and you could also do it there.

SUP Downwinding Gear Checklist:

  1. A Friend: Downwind paddling with a friend or mate will give you backup if needed and someone to enjoy it with. Going it alone is not recommended.
  2. Coiled Board Leash: Wearing a coiled leash is a must as you don’t want a long leash that drags in the water.   That said, make sure you have a quick release belt on so you can easily detach if things go wrong.
  3. Extra Leash: I’ve never needed this but it makes sense as it gives you spare line for towing.
  4. PFD: Always wear a personal flotation device (PFD) while downwinding. Absolute must in case you and your board get parted.
  5. Clothing: Depending on the time of year, I sometimes wear a ION drysuit that allows me to be super comfortable and breath.  normal wetsuit is fine.
  6. Mobile phone or VHF radio: Definitely carry a radio or phone to get in touch with people if needs be.
  7. Water: Keep a bottle of water in a back pack.
  8. Energy Bar: You might suddenly get tired, but an energy bar could just as easily be a banana, sweets etc.
  9. Wallet and cash: Always have a some money with you just in case you get stranded.

How can I learn to do downwind paddle boarding?

We run downwind paddle board lessons in west sussex, england. Our head coach, Ian Phillips has been downwinding since 2010 and has covered many amazing and exciting miles of open water in all sorts of conditions.


We run regular beginner to improver wing sup surfing lessons.

With over 35 years experience, we are fully insured and certified with: