SUP Tips for a Windy Day

We know the feeling of planning out your SUP trip to your local waters and then when you step outside it's so windy that you reconsider your trip. The sadness and frustration is real!

But we have great news! You can still go out! 

Read more for our windy paddle tips to keep you safe and still having a good time!

Stand up paddle boarding presents unique challenges for even the most experienced paddlers.

Windy days are typically considered the most dangerous time to SUP. Generally, if the wind is blowing over 12 miles an hour, it is not advisable for novices to head out on a paddle.

For those paddlers that are more experienced, we would like to offer some tips to make your SUP excursion more enjoyable and safer.

how to paddle board in the wind

Learn to read the wind

Before you head out to SUP, it should become second nature to check trees, bushes and flags to get a read on which way the wind is blowing.

As an added measure, it is typically help full to toss a few blades of grass or some leaves in the air to confirm your instincts on the wind direction.

Learning how to read the texture of the water is also extremely helpful so that you know whether the swells are heading towards you or away from you.

Finding a wind report on your cell phone is also advisable.


Start your paddle trek into the wind

It may seem counterintuitive to push yourself at the very start of your paddle trip but you will thank us for this tip later.

Because your body becomes a big sail as you stand on your paddleboard, it creates quite a bit of resistance when you head into the wind and gives you a huge advantage as the wind pushes you on the return trip when you are paddling with it.

The problem with starting your SUP trek with the wind is that you can end up paddling farther than you meant to since your board will glide so fast and the paddling will be so easy that you will most likely find yourself too worn out to cover that same distance with the wind resistance on the way back.

Paddling with the wind should feel like a reward after the hard work of fighting against it.

paddling in the wind

Change the position of your feet

While heading against the wind, you will want to move your feet about 4-5 inches from your normal position towards the nose of the board. This will push the nose of the board down a bit so that it offers less resistance against the wind.

Conversely you will want to stand back a little further when the wind is at your back because the last thing you want as you are flying downwind is to have your nose submerge into the water causing you to fall off the front of the board.


Lower your center of gravity

While standing, bend your knees lower than you normally would to create less wind resistance. You will also want to drop the hand that is on the paddle shaft towards the paddle blade.

If you still find yourself paddling in place, try paddling on your knees until the stronger gusts subside.

If the paddling is still too challenging in that position, you will want to lie on your paddle blade so that it is flat against the board and the paddle shaft rises up about 10 inches. In this position use your hands to paddle like a prone surfer.


Paddle with short quick strokes

Your paddle is another source of wind resistance so you will want to shorten up your paddle strokes and speed them up so that your paddle spends less time in the wind.

You will also want to make sure you “feather” your paddle while it is in the air so that the wind only catches the edges of the blade as you return it to the water.

You will also find that you need to switch sides of the board more as your board won’t track as well when you are facing the wind.

Stand up paddle board

Use a leash

It goes without saying that you will want to wear your PFD on a windy day because your chance of falling in increases but it is also critical that you use a leash because a strong wind will tend to take your unmanned board with it and you may not be able to catch up to it while swimming. With a leash, you can simply pull your board back to you.


Use obstacles as windbreaks

Seasoned paddlers will have specific routes for windy days that incorporate land features that act as windbreaks. These breaks can be islands, tall canyon walls, trees, etc. Such obstacles may only give you a temporary break from the wind but when you are suffering your way through the wind, any break is appreciated.



Stand up paddle boarding on a windy day can do wonders for your strength and balance if you are cognizant of the dangers it presents. By following these simple safety measures, your next windy day SUP trip is bound to be safer and more enjoyable.


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