Stand up paddle boarding is now one of the fastest-growing sports in the world. Most people think of it as a simple sport that doesn’t require many skills. Well, it’s not entirely true. You can do a lot more things than simply cruising down a calm river or paddling on a lake and they involve a lot of skills. For a beginner stand up paddler, there are a lot of SUP skills to learn and one of them should be about how to paddle into the wind because sooner or later, you will have to paddle against the wind. You might need to change the direction you are going or the wind might change its direction so It’s just a matter of time before you have to paddle into a headwind.
Paddling into wind is not a fun thing to do. Most paddlers don’t want to paddle into the wind but it’s kind of inevitable. So learning what to do and what not to do when paddling into the wind is necessary. By knowing what to do when going against the wind, you can actually make this rather unpleasant experience easier and even more enjoyable. Here are a few helpful tips to tackle this problem.
- Hold your paddle properly
First, if there’s a strong wind blowing when you are riding on your board, your body is the biggest object on the board. Right now your body is like a sail on a boat that can affect the course of the board greatly. So what you should do is to reduce the wind resistance on your body to allow your paddle board to move faster against the wind. There are a few things to do to reduce wind resistance. The first thing to do is bending your hips and dropping your shoulders. Another is to lower your body position. First, try holding the upper part of the paddle shaft instead of the handle with your top hand. By doing this you can easily get your body position lower and make every stroke more powerful. Keep every stroke small and fast, it's a little like doing a SUP sprint start. And you’ll soon realize how useful this paddling stroke is when going against a headwind.
- Make sure your body weight is forward
The best stance for paddling into the wind is when your body weight is forward. The purpose of this stance is to press the nose of the board down to the water so that the wind won’t go underneath it and add more resistance. SUP boards with bigger noses are more easily affected by the wind so if the board you use has a wide, rounded nose, you should probably pay more attention to this detail.
- Adjust your paddle stroke
Different problems require different solutions. Shorter strokes are more suitable for situations like paddling against the wind. It’s more effective and less tiring compared to a regular long, slower stroke you do when in no wind or downwind conditions. If you are not sure how short the stroke should be, here’s how to make sure you are doing it right. Make sure every paddle stroke you take doesn’t go past your feet.
- Never give up
You might encounter a lot of situations that can’t be predicted, and chances are the above-mentioned methods do not work and you fail to move forward. In a situation like this, you might feel helpless and want to give up. The right thing to do when in a situation like this is to keep paddling. Do not give up in the middle of a SUP session. Keep paddling and if the wind’s too strong, just drop to your knees to further reduce the wind resistance. It’ll make progress into the wind much easier and allow you to move forward. If you are still not able to make any progression in this way, just put the paddle down and get down completely on the board and paddle with your hands. When in a tough situation like this, you might want to consider making a temporary stop or if you have to keep moving, try looking for shelters like cliff sides, riverbanks, or trees to make paddling forward easier.
And just like any other SUP activities, there are some things you should know and do to keep yourself safe when paddling into the wind.
- Don’t paddle alone. When you are in danger, you will have someone that has your back.
- Wear a PFD.
- Bring your phone with you. You can use it to call someone to ask for help when in a dangerous situation
- Put the leash on. It can avoid your board from getting away from you and help you retrieve your board more easily when you fall into the water.
- Take your time to do a little research. It’s never redundant to check the weather and learn the tides of the place you are going to be paddling in.
The above-mentioned paddling techniques are well worth practicing because paddling against the wind is basically inevitable. Even the weather forecast isn’t 100% accurate. You can’t make sure the wind will blow in the same direction during your whole SUP session. At some point you are going to go against the wind so why not just be prepared for it so that you can handle it more easily and casually when it actually happens?