Everything you have come to know and understand about watersports - think again. Now we are going downwind! You heard that right. I repeat: the goal is no longer to stay upwind.
Downwind SUP foiling has become all the rage over the last few months - and with good reason. The freedom and simplicity of cruising downwind on the face of a wave or swell are like no other. The only issue? It’s not easy at first. It will try your patience, both mentally and physically. You will fall in the water. You will become physically exhausted. You will wonder why you started this sport in the first place. And then, just when you are ready to throw in the towel (or paddle), you’ll get a ride. And then you’ll get two. And then suddenly, the suffer fest was worth it and you’re downwind SUP foiling with your crew.
So how do you get from one to the other? This list of tips and info should make the process more smooth and less painful.
Consider your front wing size. If you’re a larger rider, especially in light wind, go big. This will provide more lift and will help you to get going easier. Big and wide front wings can also be ultra-efficient and require less pumping once you’re up on foil.
Paddle power and stroke technique are everything. Become a master of the “J-stroke” to keep your line going forward. Since SUP foiling requires paddling only on one side of the board, eventually the nose of the board is going to want to track that way. The J-stroke is the best way to keep your board going straight downwind and ready to catch the swell. Change the angle of the paddle so that the face is open to the board, then slightly pull towards the board on the catch before continuing into a normal stroke to initiate forward movement. The motion will feel like you are carving a small “J” in the water in front of you.
Stay on top of the energy. Drop in to swell and learn forward. Pump from swell to swell when you need to or feel yourself losing energy. It’s not a free ride the full way. Getting up on foil is the initial goal, but once you’re up, you need to stay alert and constantly read the swell in front of you to ensure you keep your speed up.
Consider the spot you are going out. Small, steep, and well-organized swell will make your life easier as your try to put the puzzle together that is downwind SUP foiling. Enjoy the ride! It’s a rewarding one.