Gear Up For SUP Part 3: Downwind
Downwind paddling is one of the most intimidating SUP disciplines. But it’s also one of the most rewarding. The feeling of being flung downwind by unruly hunks of overhead wind swell is unmatched. But you need to be safe. That means finding a mentor or guide that knows the ropes and is willing to teach you the intricacies of this discipline. That also means having the right equipment. Below is a list of the kit you need before you try to find the glide.
Leash. Your board tries to fly away like a kite when you fall in high winds. And when you're offshore—as you often are—a long swim is a spooky thought. We like heavy coil leashes and strong leash strings.
Hydration pack. You'll be surprised by how fast you get dehydrated chasing glides in the wind. A hydration pack carries enough water to keep your thirst at bay as well as other essentials such as a protein bar and a phone.
Waterproof phone case. Your phone is a great resource when you're offshore. Throw it in a waterproof case for GPS, fitness apps, emergency calls and, of course, selfies.
PFD. A waist-pack inflatable PFD should be a no-brainer. Emergencies happen and this could make the difference.
Paddle. A stiff carbon paddle with a smaller blade face allows you to maintain a higher stroke cadence and get up to speed and into bumps. Your normal race paddle should work to start but we like ours a couple inches shorter than flatwater race length.