Extreme Downwinding | 50 Knots with Nicolas Jarossay

Serious seamen of all sorts are well acquainted with the influence of wind on the open ocean. It’s an alpha element at sea, the determining factor in every waterman’s interaction with the ocean. For sailors, the breeze creates the course of a voyage. For surfers, wind can bring the barrel of a lifetime or a catastrophic, board-breaking closeout. For paddlers, wind is the ultimate purveyor of a spectacular sector—downwinding.

Downwinding is like the Thai Chi of paddling; it’s the art of embracing an opposing force to work in your favor, harnessing wind power and resulting swells to propel yourself across the open sea. It’s going with the flow in the most literal sense of the term, and it’s among the most exhilarating subdivisions of SUP.

Downwinding demands a solid 15 knots of side-shore for any elemental assistance, a speed indicated by the presence of breaking waves, also known as whitecaps. When the wind blows at 25 knots, which is often in some areas and unheard of in others, the bumps get bigger and it’s time to get out on the water. 30+ knots and the downwind dudes won’t be at work that day. But when the howling hits 50 knots (for you Americans, that’s nearly a mile a minute), only the most experienced, in-form and ambitious athletes are suited to SUP.

Nicolas Jarossay and the Teulade brothers happen to fit that description to a T, and here we witness them exercising the earned ability to enjoy the breeze at the better end of the Beaufort Wind Scale.

Intrigued? Jarossay’s adventure doesn’t stop here. He’s planning the first-ever transatlantic solo SUP expedition for January, and he’ll surely face more than 50 knots along the way. Check back with SUPthemag.com for updates on his progress.

More extreme downwinding.

Find the glide in our archive of media for downwind warriors.