SUP Downwind Skills


SUP downwinding uses special SUP boards, the ocean swells and wind to help propel you along.  It requires skill and strategy to judge the best peaks and troughs (runners) so you remain on course.

ASI SUP downwinding skills and knowledge focuses on distances of 10 km (6 miles) with wind speed of 15 to 20 knots.  

Locations and Conditions 

Downwind paddling locations are defined as: 

  • Coastal ocean locations 
  • Wind speed greater than 15 knots and less than 20 knots
  • Swell size up to 4 ft swell
  • White capping waves
  • Offshore up to 500 metres (1,640 ft)


Before paddling at this level, you should:

  • know how to swim 200 metres (656 ft), without stopping.
  • have exposed waters paddling skills.


  • 12ft 6' downwind stand up paddle board
  • Paddle
  • Coiled leash
  • Hydration system
  • Tide watch
  • GPS watch
  • Communications device
  • Clothing for downwind paddling 

Skills and Knowledge

To paddle correctly and safely at this level, requires the following skills and knowledge:  

Environment & Safety

  • Identify types of wind direction and strength
  • Identify SUP hazards and self rescue techniques at 500 metres offshore
  • How to correctly wipe-out in high wind conditions
  • Identify correct SUP etiquette (rights of way)
  • Planning and logistics required to organise a downwind paddle
  • Identify safe entry and exit points
  • Emergency response processes

Equipment & Clothing

  • Choose suitable SUP downwind paddle board and equipment
  • Identify suitable clothing to wear
  • Identify safety equipment and accessories

Paddle Skills

  • Identify wave mechanics to maximize performance      
  • How to read the wind for best effect
  • Catch and ride "bumps" 
  • Demonstrate correct paddling technique and stance
  • Methods to vary stroke rate and length
  • Rail steering
  • Maximising board run
  • How to maintain momentum and speed