Down wind (aka DW) sup foiling is the new trend in watersports and at wake-style.com we are ready to fully embrace this new discipline. Here is a useful guide
for everyone who is still not familiar with Down wind Sup Foiling :)
Stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) has gained immense popularity over the years, attracting water sports enthusiasts with its perfect blend of adventure, exercise, and connection to nature. However, as the sport continues to evolve, a new and exciting variation has emerged: downwind SUP foiling. This cutting-edge discipline combines the thrill of foiling with the power of wind and waves, taking the SUP experience to exhilarating new heights. In this article, we will dive into the world of downwind SUP foiling, exploring the techniques involved and the equipment required to embark on this thrilling journey.
Downwind SUP foiling involves riding a stand-up paddleboard equipped with a hydrofoil fin in downwind conditions. Unlike traditional paddleboarding, where the main effort comes from the paddler's strokes, downwind SUP foiling capitalizes on the energy generated by the wind and ocean swells or bumps on bigger lakes and inlets. By harnessing these forces, riders are once on the foil able to achieve incredible speed and glide effortlessly across the water's surface.
Stand-up Paddleboard (SUP): Choosing the right SUP board for downwind foiling is crucial.
The board should be long enough to be able to accelerate on the bumps and swell, but short enough to be able to pump. The width and volume is always a balance between being wide enough to stand on and paddling full power, but not too wide because that adds drag makes it harder to get on the foil. This makes the DW boards look very different from a traditional sup.
The boards are as light as possible to minimise the swingweight when pumping and narrower to reduce drag. To achieve a low weight all boards are build in premium constructions.
Some boards feature a recessed deck to enhance stability and/or come with attachment points for foot straps, providing added control during the ride.
Keep in mind that these boards might look big compared to a Wingfoil or prone board, but that they are really small compared to traditional wave sups that are most of the time over 8ft long and 30 wide...So don,t get fooled by the sizes and think big!
As a bonus: these boards double as the perfect super lightwind wing board allowing you to use allowing you to use smaller wings and foils than you would have to use in similar conditions with a conventional wing board.
As a rule of thumb we advise starters to take at least 30l buoyancy above their weight but contact us for advice.
Foil: The hydrofoil, the most critical component of downwind SUP foiling, is responsible for lifting the board above the water's surface. It consists of a mast, a front wing, and a stabilizer wing. The mast is attached to the board while the wings are submerged beneath the water. The front wing generates lift, while the stabilizer wing provides stability and control. Usually, bigger hydrofoils are used for the practice of this discipline as they offer more glide and are easier to start when compared to traditional wingfoiling foils. Smaller foils are faster and have a more lively feel, but only when you're able to get on the foil so think Large!
Paddle: A high-performance paddle designed specifically for wave SUP is recommended. Preferable with a slightly bigger blade and adjustable length.
Because getting on the foil is hard work and puts a lot of stress on the paddle shaft and blade Carbon fiber construction is common, offering a perfect balance between strength and weight.
Leash: A coiled leash designed for SUP foiling is essential for safety. This leash connects the rider to the board, preventing separation in case of a fall. It's important to choose a leash that is specifically designed for foiling to ensure it can withstand the forces and potential tangles with the foil.
Personal Flotation Device (PFD): While not directly related to the equipment for downwind SUP foiling, it is crucial to prioritize safety. Wearing a suitable PFD is strongly recommended, as it provides buoyancy and increases visibility, ensuring a safer experience on the water.
Foot Straps: Foot straps are optional but highly beneficial for downwind SUP foiling. They provide added stability and control, allowing riders to fully utilize the power of the wind and waves. Foot straps are attached to the board and securely hold the rider's feet in place.
To start with downwind SUP foiling, it's essential to have a certain level of skill and experience. Here are the minimum skills required to begin your downwind SUP foiling journey:
Proficient Paddleboarding Skills: Before attempting downwind SUP foiling, it's important to have a solid foundation in traditional stand-up paddleboarding. You should be comfortable and confident in balancing on a paddleboard, paddling efficiently, and maneuvering the board in various water conditions. This includes having a good sense of stability and control over your board.
Basic Hydrofoil Familiarity: While not mandatory, having some familiarity with hydrofoils is beneficial before venturing into downwind SUP foiling. If possible, practice using a hydrofoil in calm water conditions or take introductory foiling lessons. This will help you understand the principles of foiling, including weight distribution, balance, and controlling the lift generated by the foil.
Understanding Wind and Swell Conditions: Developing a basic understanding of wind and swell conditions is crucial for downwind SUP foiling. Learn to read wind patterns and forecasts to identify suitable downwind opportunities. Understanding how swells form and behave will help you anticipate and navigate the ocean's energy effectively. This knowledge will assist in selecting appropriate locations and timing for your downwind foiling sessions.
Balancing and Weight Shifting: Maintaining balance and being able to shift your weight effectively are key skills in downwind SUP foiling. As the hydrofoil lifts your board out of the water, you'll need to adapt to the changes in balance and weight distribution. Practice shifting your weight and adjusting your body position to maintain stability and control over the foil.
Learning to "Pump" the Foil: A fundamental skill in downwind SUP foiling is learning how to "pump" the foil to generate and maintain lift. Pumping involves using your body movements, along with the motion of the waves and wind, to create lift and propulsion without relying solely on paddling. Practice timing your movements to match the rhythm of the swell and wind, effectively pumping the foil and maintaining continuous glide.
Fall and Recovery Techniques: Despite your best efforts, falling is inevitable when learning downwind SUP foiling. It's important to develop fall and recovery techniques to minimize the risk of injury and safely recover from falls. Practice falling away from the foil and maintaining a safe distance from it during your recovery. Understanding how to safely detach from the foil and resurface is crucial for your overall safety and enjoyment.
Safety and Self-Rescue Skills: Prioritize safety by developing basic self-rescue skills. Understand how to properly use your leash, recover your board, and navigate back to shore or safety in case of an emergency or equipment failure. Familiarize yourself with water safety guidelines and protocols to ensure a safe and enjoyable downwind SUP foiling experience.
Remember, downwind SUP foiling requires practice, patience, and a gradual progression. It's recommended to seek guidance from experienced foilers, take lessons from instructors, or participate in clinics to further develop your skills and knowledge. Always prioritize safety and never exceed your abilities or venture into dangerous conditions without proper experience.