Where When How — March/April 2017
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Morgan Luker

TCI Bucket List Item #3: DOWNWINDING

My love of the ocean has introduced me to the water sport of stand up paddleboarding. My passion for SUP has led me into surfing. And now my love of surfing has opened up the doors to SUP downwinders, or one-way paddle adventures with the wind at your back, riding the waves to a destination of your choice! Think sprint paddling with the thrill of surfing.

Having recently finished hosting an adult adventure retreat with the partnership of PaddleFit, and top coaching from Team USA’s National SUP Coach Brody Welte, I was able to learn a great deal about SUP downwinding. We were given extremely high winds of over 40 knots and had to prepare for a very windy week. What we were also given was an opportunity to learn the sport of SUP downwinding in some of the most desirable conditions and beautiful waters in the world.

With the wind and the waves pushing you in the same direction (forward), you position yourself on top or ahead of the approaching waves that will move you forward. The waves will come from behind you and with quick paddling, you will be able to catch up with a wave and have it propel you forwards and go for a ride! Once you have landed a wave, enjoy the sea and surf and keep paddling to stay with that wave. Once you have ‘ridden’ the wave out, start paddling again and try to get on top of the next approaching wave. On one of our downwinder days our camp covered about six and a half miles in around two hours, and that was with frequent stops, constant coaching and in roughly 25 knots of wind.

If you have never done a downwinder before, you should definitely go with someone with experience such as a professional coach or paddling school. When the wind is up, there will definitely be scheduled downwinders, so check with SURFside Ocean Academy or another paddling school for their adventure schedules. I will be out there for sure, so come and join me. In the meantime, here is what you will need to go:

• SUP or downwinder board and paddle, always wear your leash

• personal floatation device with whistle and light

• radio/phone and GPS (for longer paddles)

Make sure you study the wind and weather patterns of the area that you are paddling before your adventure. Check for any currents or water hazards on your course. Make sure you tell someone where you are launching from and communicate when you are safe and back on land. See you on the water!