Introduction to downwind SUP paddling (downwinding)

Downwinding is a great way to enjoy the wonderful sport of Standup Paddleboarding (SUP).

What is downwinding?

Downwind paddleboarding (downwinding) uses strong winds and the waves (or swell) it produces to paddle and navigate from one place to another. This means you start in one place and finish in another, paddling with the wind and waves.

It does take a relatively higher level of experience, skill, fitness, perseverance and pluck then flatwater paddling in calm waters. You will also need to be able to read the weather well and know local currents and safe starting / landing places (or go with someone that does!).

How do I get started?

Downwinding is exhilarating, but it can also be dangerous if you don’t read the conditions right or go out in conditions above your ability level.

To get started:

  1. Join SUP Vic or a SUP VIC paddle to get connected with other paddleboarders.
  2. Read the Introduction to Downwind Paddling carefully before undertaking any downwind paddling. This guide has been put together by SUP Vic Club Members to help you get started.
  3. Do not under-estimate the level of preparedness you need before venturing out in strong conditions.
  4. Start in light conditions (perhaps a ‘downbreezer’) then build up and progress your downwinding skills.

Gear and safety

There are some gear and safety considerations before you head off. When downwind paddleboard, you often travel further offshore than you would for other SUP sports in more extreme weather. While a leash is always recommended for any SUP activity, with a downwinder a lifejacket / PFD, mobile phone in waterproof bag (or case) and warm clothes for when you finish are all good idea. You may also want to consider whether you have the right SUP board.

These considerations and more are covered in the Introduction to Downwind Paddling guide.