Downwind Made Easy

Downwinding is Easy. There I said it. My FIRST TIME attempting to downwind BUT using a longer 7’ 8” and 25” wide board.

If you can’t STAND you can’t CATCH. And if you can’t CATCH you can’t FLY. To Stand, Catch, and Fly go go with a 7 foot and “wider” board.

James Casey taught us to use BIG wings. GoFoil M280, Axis 1310 . . . . to FLY. I am suggesting to use a big board – Certainly to learn – Definitely so you can STAND.

I had been practicing in the ocean to make sure I could stand on the board. 7’ 8” x 25” X 120 liters that I had made by Jeff Clark for big wave foiling. We call it the “Wahoo.”

People have talked about the struggle, the humbling paddles and the pain. This weekend our captain Kyle led the crew from Coyote Point to 3rd Avenue in San Francisco. We all got up and flew.

Big Board, Big Foil, Big Wind and Fetch. Axis 1300, with 460P tail, 76 cm 19MM Aluminum mast, blowing 25 mph and 6+ miles of fetch. All wind chop.


History: I have been SUP foiling for 6 years, long enough to have heard it before “Foiling is impossible. . . like riding a greased bowling ball . . . “ We all learned on 8 foot boards with Tiny Kai foils.

I was intimidated by downwinding. I will caveat I Tried it 4 years ago in the Pacific ocean with an M200 – No Way. Then during a dying hurricane (actually blowing 45 - 60 mph) and got 3 x 200 yard rides in the US East Coast.

I have been on the new 7’ 8” x 25” X 120 liters board in small, medium and big surf as well as winging.

This is a barracuda style board but much wider. It was suggested it was too wide for efficient downwinding. But I can stand on the board in chop and in the ocean. I think this is key. To say it again. If you can’t stand you can’t catch.

No need to go 20” wide especially when learning.


I’m confused. Is it easy? Or did it take you 6 years to learn it. Those statements don’t go together. :slight_smile:

You also say it was your first time, then mention at least 2 other times you’ve tried it.

You have the skills to do it. You used the correct equipment to do it. I would expect you to be able to do it.

The struggles come from matching the wrong equipment to the wrong conditions and having no skills. Example: Prone guys thinking they will be able to buy a SUP and go straight to DW on the same foils they use for prone in the surf.


Having 6 years of SUP is a massive benefit. Many of us are starting at 0 days of SUP. Learning to balance on the smaller board was probably the easier item of all the things you listed, though I’m sure it’s different for everyone. Once on foil things start to become a little more familiar to those of us that prone. I imagine it’s all even harder for those that are going from 0 on all the skills.

But you are right, bigger gear and perfect conditions does make it less challenging to a certain degree… For the lucky few who ever have perfect conditions anyway.

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What was once HARD is now “Made” EASY if:

  1. You ride a SUP and know how to paddle and catch waves
  2. You can stand on the board in moderate to rough conditions
  3. You use a big foil, and what some would call “Overfoil”
  4. You find a place with good wind fetch
  5. Listen to the Podcasts (although this can be like learning to fly from Chuck Yeager)

As I said I was intimidated by all the people saying how hard, and humbling it was and essentially had given up the hope of downwinding. Then Kyle and Josh come along and drag me and Haley by the hair last weekend. Haley was riding a 7’ 2" x 32" X 167 Liter Kalama board. Kyle and Josh belief was that my board @ 25" was too wide for good downwinding and Haley’s board, wider than most doorways, was WAY to wide. Haley got up and flew.

So this is a public service announcement: Downwinding can be easy. Just don’t limit yourself to narrow short boards. When 8 foot foil boards were normal we would catch big waves. I never stopped using boards over 7 feet for waves with 10 foot or bigger faces because they are FASTER. Fanatic just released a series of downwind boards @ 5’10" and 6’2". Where are the 7+ footers???

I am 50 years old and have not flat water pumped up. Good luck flat water pumping Haley’s 7’2" x 32" barn door, but he flew downwinding.

For reference here was my last downwind attempt 2 years ago. Good luck advising anyone to go out in conditions like these. 6’ 6" Blue Planet. Board too short with mast too far back. M200 wing - OK but . . . .

Glad my advice made it easy for you :call_me_hand:t4:

Get out there gang! There’s nothing to it if you have the right equipment matched to the right conditions

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