Importance of mast stiffness in learning SUP DW?

TLDR; will a stiffer mast noticeably help me in learning to downwind SUP? If so, is it worth the cash outlay?

After hearing in someone’s podcast or YouTube that winging won’t help learning to downwind SUP, I made a serious commitment last spring and put away the wings for 2 months to focus my efforts doing laps at the hatch. Ultimately I decided that while the struggle did feel worthy and progress was being made, my foil skills might be holding me back. I switched back to winging for the summer to get more time on foil and focused on circuits of long upwinders so I could get long stretches to practice riding the foil with the wing flagged.

While doing laps at the hatch one of the experts recommended scoring an axis 1310 pump wing as a cheat code. Since I’m on Armstrong and had recently upgraded to the 1750, I filed that away as good but expensive advice.

Fast forward to a couple weeks back when I was offered a deal I couldn’t refuse on a used 1880 APF. I am strapped for cash, but figured this was a sign I should rededicate my session time back to paddling so I jumped on it, and currently have it rigged to my 72.5 A+ mast.

Problem is that at 260 lbs on the 8’3 Armstrong downwind board, I have some serious leverage with the 1880 and am feeling a ton of flex. It feels flexible enough that I’m beginning to think the loss of control/confidence might be negatively affecting my progression.

But I’m not a good enough foiler to know whether or not it is worth it to throw down for a stiffer mast. I was hoping there was a better foiler out there with advice or perspective.

Am I just trying to throw fancy new gear at a problem that really only comes back to time on the water? Or will the expensive upgrade really unlock something for me?

How long are your flagged wingDW runs going? Are you breaking 2 minutes?

A stiffer mast will obviously be better. You’ll feel more stable which will make you more confident and let you keep your heart rate lower while putting effort into pumping instead of resetting and gaining balance. But there is no silver bullet to learning DW.

Try someone else’s gear. Demo some gear. Find an aluminum Cedrus. There are cheaper ways to get huge foils. The new Armstrong stuff is supposed to be pretty good.

Don’t get sucked into the ego of SUP DW. Make sure you’re having fun. If you’re having fun on the wing then have fun on the wing. The sport is supposed to be fun. If you like shuttling in cars with other people instead of being on the water then SUP DW might just be for you. :slight_smile:


Shuttles look fun, can’t wait to get to that level. I come from SUP surfing so paddling is definitely my jam. I think it’s cool that the DW crew is already pulling in folks that may have been too cool to SUP, but yea… the ego comes with that sometimes it seems.

Definitely not hitting 2 minutes without needing a little pull from the wing. Prob 1 minute on my very best runs but at least consistently getting a few good turns.

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I found it very helpful to use a small wing (3m cabrinha mantis) and my down wind board setup to learn how to read bumps. The small wing stays out of your way pretty well when flagged. The longer you can glide without the help of your wing the more fun you are gonna have when you do sup foil!


With the APF or big span wings you will want the new mast for sure! More stable, more direct etc etc
The ha1125 is about as much the older a+ mast can handle when I rode Armstrong