Arquivo da tag: paddle boarding



Huge question this – what makes a great downwind sup board?

There are so many variables and possibilities to this question and I don’t believe that one board is better than the other, but having ridden many of them I think it is worth putting my thoughts down.

If we first break things down into 2 specific board shapes that will help people recognise what I am talking about.

The Race Board – Starboard Ace

Starboard Ace downwind boarddownwind sup board by starboard

The Starboard Ace has features more likened to a race board. Very soft rails running from the nose back, a fuller nose volume, super thing tail and a flat underside.

The Jimmy Lewis M14

jimmy lewis m14 sup board uk

The Jimmy Lewis M14 downwind sup board is more akin to a classic gun surfboard that has been stretched out.    Sharper rails from front to back, a constant rocker line and thinner nose to aid in surfing, with a round/pintail to help with steering.

As I said before, I have ridden lots of boards and this little blog is not specifically focused on these 2 boards, it is just using them as examples.

Catching bumps:

This is ultimately what downwind paddling is all about but it doesn’t have to be open ocean and howling winds.   Often we will run downwind clinics and do our own stuff in winds as low as F2 with tiny, barely notable ripples.

The art to catching bumps is something we talk about in our other blogs so we’ll stay on track here and discuss how a downwind sup board helps with this.

Using our 2 shapes above we’ll look at the Starboard Ace first.   The board overall is faster through the water with the bow shape peeling open the water as it travels forward.  Also having a flatter rocker line can increase speed in smaller waves as you don’t have a belly of the board creating resistance.

Compare this to the M14 that has a large flat facing area pushing into the water, until it projects itself up onto the plane.   The rocker line being a bit more also creates a drag effect in very small waves, but at the same time this rocker line means you don’t bury the nose and easily paddle out without diving.


Round rails such as those found on the Starboard Ace do not hold the board down to the water as well as sharper rails found on the M14 downwind sup board.   This can have a big effect on overall board stability.

The M14 has a nice constant plan shape that doesn’t suddenly narrow at the nose or tail so you find stability when you are both in normal paddle stance and when stepping back further to get the nose up.

The Ace has a very narrow tail and I found this more tricky paired with the round rails unless the board was really motoring along.

The whole thing about stability is also reliant on the paddler so this needs to be a personal choice more than something someone writes.

Continued glide:

Once you are on a bump how easy is it to keep going?     I have to say that the race bow on the Starboard Ace made speed and therefore glide a no brainer as it has little drag or resistance compared to the M14, but when the waves and swell got over a couple of foot then both board started to perform in a similar way.

With any board that has more rolly feel such as a round rail race board you are always on your game to keep control of the tip and lean of the board, but with the M14 with sharper rails once you are on the plane it is solid as a rock and you have to really direct it.


The M14 downwind sup board is a no brainer as it rides like a surfboard and you bury a rail to direct the board and can increase lean with the use of your paddle.  Even when you do drop off the back of a bump the board can easily be steered with inverse rail pressure and doesn’t aggressively try to drop you.

I did find the Ace downwind sup board a bit more tricky, but bear in mind it is a bit more rolly and so this takes time to dial into.  Steering and tracking was very positive and really helped with a good size fin keep you directed.


This is super important when using a downwind sup board  and is totally dependent on board shape and rider skill.    I personally prefer a slightly bigger fin as this really helps in our messy UK conditions where we are often travelling in multidirectional waves.   If it was a simple case of gliding a bump in then a smaller fin is easy to use but I find they tend to let the grip go when you start being bumped left and right by cross waves.

Ease of use:

Again this is a personal choice. I really like to feel comfortable when I am out at sea and don’t want to fight or put too much effort into just standing especially in rougher water.   At the same time I love the feel of a more continued glide and faster projection on to waves.


As I said this isn’t a blog that looks to critique either downwind sup board as both have pros and cons. I have my favourite and you’ll have yours.

Best thing to do is get out there when it is rough, windy and messy. Get yourself tuned in and used to handling rough water.   Then start worrying about what downwind sup board you ride and how you can improve your own experience.

One tip is to get an Indo Board. We use the Indo Board to improve balance and footwork around the board which is a massive help in controlling your downwind sup board.

why do I love paddle boarding so much?

If you’ve been keeping up with Mark’s Daily Apple, you know that standup paddling is a longtime favorite pastime of mine. And though I was into it before it was “cool,” I’m certainly not the first. Fishermen have been paddling their water vessels from a standing position for thousands of years and pre-contact Hawaiian surfers employed long paddles to reach the best waves on their 3-5 meter-long boards. In the mid-20th century, Oahu surf instructors would lead classes atop longboards with paddles, but it wasn’t until Laird Hamilton and Dave Kalama started standup paddling (and being filmed doing it) that the sport gained broad “sport” status and board makers began producing dedicated SUP boards.

So, a lot of people have asked: why do I love paddle boarding so much?

I love the minimalism of paddling. Consider snowboarding, which I also love. Snowboarding requires a bunch of equipment. You gotta get the lift ticket. You gotta wear the cold weather gear. You need to strap on the boots. You gotta ride the lift and wear the goggles and check the conditions. It’s exhausting. Exhilarating, too, and I look forward to it every season, but you can’t beat the simplicity of slipping into the water and hopping up on your board with just some shorts and a paddle and no plan at all.

I can’t do traditional meditation. I’ve tried. I know the benefits. It just doesn’t work for me. But paddling? Getting the angle of the paddle just right as it enters the water with the least resistance? Engaging every muscle, however minor and seemingly inconsequential, to pull against the water? Paddling is my meditation. To get the angle of the paddle as it enters the water just right with the least resistance. I never even really think of it as a workout, although there’s not a better core program if you have good technique. Since taking up paddling, I’ve really developed my serratus anteriors to go along with the standard abs.

Shoulder problems? Don’t worry. With proper form, the shoulder is stabilized when you paddle. The arms in both top and bottom position are maintained fairly straight throughout the stroke; think of a “V” emanating out from the shoulder, formed by the two straight arm. Most of the actual “work” is done with the lats, the serratus, the abs, the hips, and the legs. Overall, paddling with proper form is a fantastic shoulder external rotation “pulling” movement. Since the majority of people are biased toward interior rotation of the shoulders, tight pecs, and a slumped, inactive thoracic spine, usually from too much computer and smartphone usage, standup paddling is a godsend for shoulder health. Even gym rats, who tend to be bench press addicts, can benefit from adding more restorative pulling or external rotation at the shoulder. Many experts think your pulling (pullups, rows) should outweigh your pushing (pushups, bench, overhead press, dips) by at least 2:1. Paddling is a productive and enjoyable way to do it. When I have shoulder problems from the gym, paddling actually helps iron them out.

Santa Barbara Lifestyle Photographer Doug Ellis

Compared to kayaks and canoes, standup paddle boards give you a unique vantage point. Whereas the seated water vessels direct your focus toward going and moving forward and working hard, standing up directs your gaze downward and outward across the horizon. When I paddle, I can see everything below and around me, and because paddling itself is such a relaxed, meditative process, I’m inclined to take advantage of the increased visibility. If the water’s clear (as it is in Malibu), you’ll see some incredible things swimming below that you’d simply miss if you were trying to catch waves or cut through the water in record time. Standup paddling encourages exploration, and rewards it.

Cool things happen when you paddle. You might meet new people (SUPers are some of the coolest folks around, in my experience), you might catch a wave or two, you often see incredible wildlife (especially in Malibu – seals, dolphins, schools of bat rays and other large fish, etc.), because you can see straight down below.

A few weeks ago, I bought a new “starter” board on which to train first-timers (Costco, delivered free to the house!). The next Saturday I went down to the beach locker where I keep my boards and saw that there was a SUP race taking off just a few hundred feet up the beach. I figured I’d try the new board out in that race, so I registered. Big mistake. 20 paddle strokes in I could see that this board, while extremely stable and easy to ride, was a barge compared to my regular sleek board. This 5-mile ocean race was going to be a hurt dance if I was thinking of maintaining any real speed. And I couldn’t just drop out because, well, I knew too many people watching on the beach, so I settled in for a good workout and vowed to enjoy whatever happened. Rounding the final buoy about a mile and a quarter off shore, lost in the meditative paddling “zone” but aware of my surroundings, I was startled to look up and see not 50 feet away a large mama gray whale and twin calves just lolling in the water. This is a rare, rare sight, the kind of thing whale watching enthusiasts dream about. The people on SUPs around me were equally surprised, and we all just stopped — mostly because we were waiting to see if she and the kids might dive underneath us. It was fantastic and exhilarating to be that far from shore, in fairly choppy water wondering who would make the next move. As it turned out, we racers all agreed to take a 2-minute timeout and just “be” in this once in a lifetime moment. It was one of the coolest experiences I’ve had. And that’s the kind of thing that can happen when you paddle.

Santa Barbara Lifestyle Photographer Doug Ellis

Interest piqued? I bet it is.

Here’s how to get started:

For beginners, I always recommend larger, wider boards like the Costco board mentioned above. The bigger the board, the better the stability. There’s nothing so demoralizing (and quick to discourage further paddling) to a newbie than repeatedly falling into the water because the board’s too wobbly and your balance is too underdeveloped. People with extensive surfing, snowboarding, skateboarding, or other board-riding experience can probably get away with smaller boards, but the majority of beginners will get the most out of a wider, more stable board. Softer tops (as opposed to harder ones) also tend to favor the beginner.

Another choice to make is between planing hulls and displacement hulls. Boards with a planing hulls are like surfboards, sitting flat atop the water. These are great for all-around use, catching waves, and general fun on the water. Displacement hulls cut through the water, more like a kayak. They’re intended for racing and long-distance touring. I recommend most beginners start with planing hull boards until they get a feel for what they want out of paddling. If you get really into the sport and want to start racing or going long distance, you can always switch to a board with a displacement hull.

Buy at a shop rather than online for your first one. Many shops offer renter programs where you can try before you buy, and they’re full of passionate experts who will guide you toward the best board for your situation. Also, get fitted for a proper non-adjustable paddle; they tend to be higher quality than the adjustable ones.

Other than that? Just go try it. As I said earlier, it’s so simple and requires so little equipment (beside the board and paddle) that you can slip into the water and have fun. Ocean, lake, pond, river — all it takes is some water. If you’re a little unsteady, start on your knees. If you fall off, laugh and get back on. No one’s watching. No one cares.


Oh, and be sure to respect the locals, particularly if you’re trying to surf waves.

That’s about it for today, folks. If you have any questions about standup paddling, leave them down below. If you have any comments, tips, or advice for beginners, do the same.

Thanks for reading, everyone!

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