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sup downwind

This new SUPboarder video series is all about feeling the wind on your back and how to get into one of the most exhilarating sides to our sport… Downwinding. It’s one of the simplest SUP disciplines and it can be done almost anywhere, from narrow rivers to open seas. This series of 3 videos is going to give you all the downwind information you need to get you on the water safely.

Starting off with this video #1 we talk about what exactly downwinding is and we take a look at the basic gear needed to get you on the water safely for the first time. Look out for video #2 where we will be doing a small estuary/river downwinder and giving you all the information you need for a successful first downwinder. And in #3 we will be talking about going on more adventurous paddles in more open water/sea states.

Downwinding is great fun, and to give it a go for the first time you really don’t need to have the latest specialist kit or be a super athlete. We really hope that this video series will give you the confidence to get out on the water in the wind and give downwinding a go!

Robert Pirie has just released the latest video from the 12 Towers SUP race held on February 25/26th 2017 on the Gold Coast of Australia. This is a 14km Open Ocean Race from the world famous Kirra Point to picturesque Burleigh Heads.

Great footage of some endless glides showing why SUP downwinding is such a fast growing side to the sport. Also very interesting to see that the newer Australian home grown brand ONE Stand Up Paddleboards are there in force with more SUPs taking part than in previous events. A brand to keep an eye on in the future for sure.

You can find full race results here :

Find out more about the event on their Facebook page : towers ocean paddle race 2017


If you haven’t tried it yet SUPing downwind is an absolute hoot! When the conditions are on, endless glides and speeds just unachievable on the flat are what you should expect.  Jeremy Riggs gets his fair share of downwind paddling in, and in this latest video he shows us some great angles of the fast and exciting world of downwind paddling.  

Riggs’s board
Jeremy is riding a SIC Bullet custom which is 18’X23”. Super long to catch the waves and pretty narrow too which also helps keep the board moving and on the plane above the water as much as possible. You can also see in the video it has a foot steering fin too, which helps to connect glides between waves.

Find out more about Jeremy Riggs and his epic downwinders here :

After what seems to be a week of SUP foil madness, Kai and outside TV released a short interview video about him talking all about SUP downwind foiling and the effect it will have on downwinding in the future. For endless glides and connecting swells, using a SUP foil for downwinding makes perfect sense. There’s also plenty of space in an open ocean unlike surf foiling which could become very dangerous at crowded beaches, as some of you guys pointed out on our Facebook page recently.

It’s going to be very interesting to see where foiling for downwinding will end up. Are we going to see an increase in downwind boards on the SB classifieds? Probably not just yet…  in one sense the board you’re riding becomes almost irrelevant when it’s not in the water! But the next 3 years could be very different when it comes to SUP downwinding.

The next question is:  Who will make the first inflatable SUP that will take a foil? And is it possible?!!’

We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear anything on that one!!!

Lars Petersen has been having fun SUP downwinding in Cold Hawaii (also known as Denmark!)

Here’s a little film on yesterday’s downwinder from Fish Factory to Vigsø. It’s one of the nicest downwinders you can do in the area! Gliding thru the deserted beautiful landscape of Thy Nationalpark is a must if you come to Cold Hawaii!’ Words FYM Productions

ICON Classic 2016

Last year SUPs were included for the first time in the ICON classic. Entries were limited to 8 paddlers who, after qualifying for the event, proved that SUP racers could take on the challenge of an 11km open water course around the top end of Devon.

ICON Classic 2016

For 2016 the SUP entry has been increased to 30 paddlers and if open water, downwind racing is something that appeals you can read about the 2015 race here and here is the race info from the ICON organisers;

The Icon Classic is Britain’s best known downwind surf ski race. Now in its 7th Year, it has become a key date in the GB Ocean Ski Series Calendar

Over the past seven years, the race has grown in reputation, attracting top European paddlers from Spain, Portugal and France.  Andre Santos (Nelo), Luis Ventura Verino (Elio), Yannick Laousse, Angie Mouden and Joep van Bakel are just to mention a few.

Last year’s event proved to be the best yet with awesome downwind conditions – check out our blog for the full race report here.  The trial SUP category was such a success that it’s now part of the Classic event and looks like it will attract up to 30 of the UK’s finest competitors.

The Course
The Classic course doesn’t come without its challenges. Morte-Point (French for Death Point) didn’t get its name without good reason! This headland has a dark history of ship wrecking on its sharp jagged rocks and should only be navigated at certain times of the tide. (For a full flavour of what used to happen on Morte-Point, Google the history of Mortehoe village and you will find it has a very colourful past and is well known for wrecking the supply ships heading for Bristol.)

From low to mid tide you can see a line of sharp rocks that extend out another mile from the headland. This is one of the contributory factors that make Mortepoint point extremely dangerous if navigated at the wrong time. This stretch of water also has the second fastest and highest tidal flow in the world and can regularly reach a height of 10m. As you can imagine, that amount of water moving over the headland rocks creates serious swirls of water and is likened to a washing machine! Not many paddlers have experienced those type of conditions before. Even without paddling you can be moving at 12 knots! That is why the Classic race only ever starts 90 minutes before high tide and never earlier! By then the rocks are well covered and the tide has passed its fastest surge which is during the second third of the tidal flow.

After navigating Morte-Point, the course follows a fairly straight line up the coast. However, if you get too close to the remaining headlands you can still experience some interesting water! As well as the challenges of Mortepoint, the race start line can throw up a descent size swell on any day. So there are a few challenges to deal with as part of the race organisation, any one of which could result in postponement, cancellation or moving the event. On the plus side, when conditions are good this race is a real cracker!

Event safety cover is organised by Saunton Sands Surf Life Saving Club who provide 5 crewed IRB’s (inshore rescue boats), 3 headland spotters and 4 drivers that make a 40 mile round trip with trailers for IRB support.

In all, a minimum of 17 people volunteer their time to ensure the highest standards of safety cover. If this event was run on a commercial basis it wouldn’t be viable. All profits from the event go to Saunton Sands Surf Life Saving Club.

In addition to the IRB safety cover, there is also a 35-foot RIB anchored at the half way point and is fondly known to the regular competitors as the ‘Mother Ship’.  However, it’s official name is ‘Lundy Explorer’ and is owned by Ilfracombe Sea Safari. Keep an eye out on Icon Sports FB page for 2016 updates.

Unlike most racing in the UK this race requires competitors to qualify to take part, please contact David Tidball on for more details

At SUPboarder we love equipment, boards, paddles, fins and even foils. When this video was realised last September by AHD showing one of their stand up paddle foil sessions with Bruno André, we instantly thought… Would a SUP foil work for downwinding? With the endless glide, what board would you need?

So what do you guys think? Or maybe you have tried it? Progression is a part of all sports and it would be good to know if its been done before and if not why not?! Let us know below….

The foil is the AHD Sealion Wings and the AFS-1 Foil.

It’s been a while since Kai Lenny’s last epic challenge and video web series. Well it’s now here… ‘The Ultimate Crossing’.

The Ultimate Crossing is a challenge set to use all of Kai’s water skills to cross 115 nautical miles from Maui to Oahu. That’s a long way!  If the wind isn’t blowing and he can’t kite surf or windsurf, then he’ll be paddling.

The stupid thing is. Whenever there’s a clip of the car with boards on the roof it says ‘Properly secure all cargo’ and Kai always has a seat belt on. But when he’s paddleboarding there’s no leash in sight!!! A leash is just as important as a seatbelt. It’s a necessity not an accessory on the water. You just never know when you might need it. We’d expect to see better from Kai.  PLEASE ALWAYS WEAR A LEASH (rescue boat or not)

Part 5

Part 4

Part 3

Kai Lenny explains why wind is a big factor during the kitesurfing leg of his 115-nautical mile Ultimate Crossing.

Part 2

Part 1:


Last weekend saw something a bit different for UK SUP racing. An open water downwind event took place off the coast of North Devon. For the first time the ‘ICON Classic Ocean Ski Series’ 2015 invited 10 experienced SUPers the opportunity to take part in the challenging approx 7 mile downwind event. A first for SUP and with limited entry, paddlers were quick to put their names forward. Among the first were experienced downwind paddlers Marie Buchanan and Paul Simmons who are always up for a challenge and a bit of competition! Here’s their account of the days exciting off-shore racing…

Marie Buchanan – SUPboarder & Starboard SUP UK team rider 


Back in April this year, when David ‘Tids’ Tidball announced a limited entry of 10 experienced SUP paddlers to take part in the already established ICON classic Ocean ski series race, I jumped at the chance! My entry was in within the first 10 minutes!

Although SUP racing is growing each year in the UK, the majority of racing takes place on sheltered inland waters and rivers, with only a handful of races currently held on the open sea. For ocean lovers and down winding enthusiasts like myself this was an opportunity not to be missed!

After watching the forecast intently all week, when the day arrived we were blessed with perfect down winding conditions, moderate warm Westerly winds and 4-6ft of predicted swell. After registering and attending the safety briefing together with the Ski paddlers in Woolacombe Village hall, our group of 8 SUPs made our way in van convoy to our separate start from the more remote and sheltered Lee Bay.

We arrived in Lee Bay with 45 mins spare before our 1.15pm start, plenty of time to prepare our kit and decide what to wear and avoid overheating in a full length wetsuit! Our mandatory kit included a leash, waterproofed Phone/VHF, high visibility numbered vest, whistle and personal Flotation (PFD). Most of us chose to carry a hydration pack and wore some sort of neoprene ranging from just a neoprene vest top and board shorts/skins to a full length summer wetsuit, depending on how much we were likely to fall in!

After a gentlemanly start from Lee Bay, the leg to the first Mark was against a brisk sidewind and chop before rounding it to head straight downwind to the next headland towards Ilfracombe. After starting from ‘cold’ it took me a while to warm up and find my rhythm and I rounded the mark in 5th position just behind Damian Warner, with Ollie Shilston in the lead, followed closely by Paul Simmons and then Andy Joyce not too far behind. From behind, I could see the leaders diverge, Ollie Shilston heading out to sea and Paul Simmons taking an inside course closer into the headland. Once further into the channel and clear of the back wash from the first headland, the bumps cleaned and were all enjoying some nice runners and a had a decent tail wind to help us along!

Screen Shot 2015-07-12 at 22.33.38

It wasn’t long before we were approaching the final headland and could see Great Hangman Hill in the distance. This was our landmark and prompt to head right and hug the coastline inland towards the finish at Combe Martin. Luckily I chose to take an inside course and to hug tight to the final headland, rewarding me with some steep fast bumps to surf down. Great fun riding my Starboard 14ft Ace from the tail like a surf board clocking up 18km/hr!!! Hugging the headland and taking an inside line into Combe Martin Bay paid off, being in the lee of the headland avoiding the sidewind and picking up some lovely clean bumps as they wrapped around the headland in towards Combe Martin. This allowed me to sneak into 4th place a minute ahead of Andy Joyce who chose a much wider course and lost ground against the stronger sidewinds, not easy with the added windage of his Starboard 17’4” ACE GT!

The hilly backdrop of the North Devon coastline provided spectacular scenery with plenty of recognisable landmarks to provide reassurance that you weren’t straying off course, and heading deep into Bristol Channel! This was such a great event to be part of, fun racing with great conditions and a lovely vibe. For me, the enjoyment was more about the personal challenge and achievement rather than my overall position. Great to discover some new paddling territory and to share the passion and enjoyment for paddling on the open sea with others, in a safe and fun environment!

Paul Simmons – Starboard SUP UK


Paddling downwind around or along the coastline in choppy or rough conditions can be one of the most exhilarating and challenging aspects of stand up paddling. Unfortunately until now, the UK has not seen any true downwind racing, I suspect due to logistics, safety and insurance issues. Thanks to the efforts of David “Tids” Tidball we were able to add the SUP discipline to an existing ocean ski race, which allowed a controlled number of experienced stand up paddlers to participate.

We took a route out of Lee Bay to avoid the breaking surf and treacherous sea state around Morte Point (if your French isn’t up to scratch then it’s worth looking up the translation!)  Once out of the bay conditions were challenging in places with a moderate swell and chop bouncing back from the rocky coastline. We had a fresh side-wind out to our one and only turn around a RIB , and from there it was downwind all the way.

I chose an inside line and lost ground to speedy Ollie Shilston, who was storming off taking a more offshore route. There were occasional good runners and all paddlers enjoyed the seven mile route. Unfortunately in my desperation to close the gap on Ollie I chose to cut inside what I thought was an island and ended up going down a dead-end a kilometre or so before we actually needed to turn in! I was redirected by some fishermen and had to step up the pace as Damian Warner, Marie and Andy Joyce weren’t far behind and on a better line with the swell taking them straight towards Combe Martin. I finished a distant second but comfortably ahead thanks to some hard work inside the last headland.

As growing numbers of stand up paddlers become proficient on the ocean, it’s important we demonstrate proficiency in challenging conditions and thanks to Tids’ efforts we have hopefully begun the start of a strong relationship with the ocean ski paddlers for future events.

ICON Classic Gallery

Huge thanks to organiser Mark and the Ocean Ski guys for allowing SUP participation. Also Tids & family, plus all the safety crews and Martin Tillman, all of whom ensured a smooth operation with the logistics of board and paddler transportation!

Words: Marie Buchanan and Paul Simmons

Images: Chris Jones

For more information about Tids and the Phibian SUP Shop in Exeter check out his website and Facebook.

Complete freedom, powered by wind and waves….

Not only can you surf, race, fish and do yoga on a SUP but you can also fully utilise the power of the ocean by Downwinding on your SUP!

Paddling downwind in outrigger canoes is an old game in Hawaii, but since  the birth of paddleboarding, downwinding has become even more populair, and its taking off in europe as well….  It’s basically a down wind adventure on a paddleboard…nothing more, nothing less…and its PERFECT for the windy UK and european coasts.

So whats the fuss all about?  
Downwinding gives you a fantastic sense of freedom, you are powered by the wind and ocean swells, and use your paddle to surf waves for mile upon mile of ocean.  You can explore places you might never normally visit, improve your paddle fitness and help your surfing by getting a great understanding of board trim.

What kit do you need?
In terms of boards, the longer the better! Race boards work very well, but anything longer than 10’6 will get you downwinding and surfing the ocean swells.  Length will help your board catch the waves, as much volume in the tail also helps.

Having a few friends is a MUST – not just for logistics to get transport sorted for your pick up point, but safety is a very serious consideration.  The ocean is a dangerous place, so go in a group, take a phone or radio just in case you may get into difficulties.

Heres SUPboarders pick of some of the best downwinder videos that show what its really all about, shown from on board SUP’s and off a chopper.  Finishing with WeSUP’s inspiring downwinders across the Scottish lochs.