Downwind Foiling Unleashed
With Finn & Jeffrey Spencer
Foiling and Wing Foiling on a Downwind board is unquestionably a growing trend! The feeling of riding endless ocean swells is amazing. However, Downwinders are harder than they look and require certain skills and know-how to have a good time. Getting into it can be quite frustrating, it takes time and you need to go step by step.
We've consulted with our board shapers and Downwind pros, Finn and Jeffrey Spencer from Maui, to provide you with some essential tips before attempting your first Downwind Runs.
What's different about paddling a Downwinder compared to paddling on a lake or flat water?
Paddling in downwind conditions can be trickier than on flat water due to chop and bumps. When paddling sidewind, consider lying down or kneeling to maintain balance and conserve energy. As you progress to standing, keep paddling to maintain board movement downwind, aiding balance while waiting for the right bump.
What's the best location for a Downwind Run?
Choose a location with a prolonged stretch of wind, allowing bumps to develop for an optimal run. Ideally, if the wind parallels a coastline, it creates favorable downwind conditions.
The right gear (board/paddle/foil) makes a huge difference. What do you recommend for newbies and advanced paddlers?
For beginners, use a board large enough for balance in choppy water and long enough to catch bumps. Balance stability and speed. As skills advance, transition to narrower boards for efficiency or shorter boards for maneuverability on foil. Paddle height should match your own, while blade size depends on preference. Larger foils suit powerful strokes, and smaller foils work well for speed. Start with a large foil as a beginner, progressing to smaller, higher aspect foils as you improve.
When Downwinding, you both look relaxed and in the zone. How long did it take you to get there?
Reading bumps is crucial in downwinding. Conditions and bumps vary, requiring time and experience to recognize patterns and efficiently navigate swells. Maximize time on the steepest part of a bump, using that energy to propel into the next one. Continuous learning occurs with each run, and improvement comes with time spent in the water.
Are there safety tips to consider?
Exercise caution to avoid contact with the foil. If the foil begins to flip, fall away from it rather than attempting to balance and risking a fall onto the foil.
We notice wingers using our Downwind models for Wing Foiling in light wind. What advantages does the narrow long shape offer?
The length of the Downwinder SLS significantly boosts speed, allowing foiling in light wind. The flat rocker through the tail enhances efficiency during take-off compared to shorter boards.
Is there a special paddle technique you would recommend?
Focus on powerful strokes by reaching far in front and digging the paddle in up to where it meets the shaft. Pull yourself towards the blade of the paddle for faster speed and quicker results on getting up on foil.
Downwind Foiling is a great motivator for fitness. Can you share from your experience?
It's a robust workout, especially during the learning phase, with frequent transitions between foiling and descent. Take breaks when needed to avoid quick fatigue. It's a fun way to enhance fitness while enjoying the sport.
What’s your favorite setup?
Board: Downwinder 6´4"
Foil/Mast: Aero Carve 2.0 D/LAB 650 & Aero Slim D/LAB
But that´s always depending on the conditions!
Pics by Klaas Voget, Ben Thouard, Toby Bromwich