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Downwind - how to start?

So, first of all, some prerequisites to downwind in SUP foil. The best thing is to have already some experience, in SUP and in traditional SUP foil, before starting on downwind. That means having
a good paddling technique, preferably.

Downwind paddling technique

This technique of paddle, can clearly be improved over time. You can also practice it on still water, without being in conditions, where you have waves. So, there’s quite a lot of options here. An interesting technique is actually to work on your rowing technique, to row straight, while rowing on the same side. Giving about 20, 30, 40 strokes of paddle, while making sure that the board
goes reasonably well and straight. That will generate the necessary power to start.

The benefit of paddling with this offset foot stance, is obviously to help you manage the board’s pitch, and make the board go into the bump you’re trying to catch.

So, a little bit of knowledge in SUP and traditional SUP foil, on a nice spot with some decent waves will help a lot.


Then, in the downwind configuration, there is a big part of the work, which will be done on the selection of the bump, in which we will start.

The bump will be this micro-clapot, this small wave, which will be a little steeper than the others, on the water. This one will make it possible to consider a starting. The identification of this bump, is done in a rather simple way, but requires a little experience, to differentiate them well from the others.

They are small swell trains that will have a more pronounced thrust than the others. It is not necessarily going to be a thrust that is going to be long in duration. But, it will be more brutal, in a way. There will be a suction effect, at first, then, a push for, 2-3 seconds, depending on the type of bump. If we have anticipated a few explosive paddle strokes, during the suction effect, we will find ourselves with a necessary speed that will clearly help us to consider taking the bump, during the push effect, in fact, that is going to be behind.


To consider taking off on this kind of bump, it is still necessary to develop a level of explosiveness which is correct. This level of explosiveness is more easily obtained over distances that are relatively short.

If you need to send 100 explosive starter cartridges, it will be quite complicated. But if you have a dozen explosive cartridges to deliver, it will be easier. On the beginnings, it is really necessary to favor shorter courses. 2-3 km can be enough, even shorter.


In a second step, we can look for more efficient foils, which are longer, with a little less surface, but which have, nevertheless, a very good glide.

And of course, also a downwind board. For those who don’t have a downwind board, still under their feet, the longest board, with the most narrowness.


On the strategy to generate small courses, there is a technique that is interesting.  It is to go upwind with a very small wing, its foil and a downwind board naturally, and by hanging the paddle on the handles. You can afford to make a small windward ascent. If you are equipped with a waterproof bag, put this wing in the waterproof bag, in a second time, once you made the small rise of 1, 2, 3 km. This allows you to make microcourses, without bothering with the logistics, it is very interesting. For those who have more time to do it, they can lengthen the courses, of course.


Someone who has a good command of pumping, after, naturally, the start-up phase, will have a better technique to be able to maintain the flight. Even if he doesn’t find the perfect connections, he will be able to compensate a little bit by the physical. It’s not essential either, clearly, but it’s a plus.

Curious about downwind foiling? Here is the complete article about this new watersport right here. 

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