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SUP Foil Downwind: We tested it for you!

Today, let's dive into this fast-growing discipline in the world of water sports. This activity is captivating because it offers an incomparable sliding and adventure experience, but is it really within everyone's reach?


What is SUP Foil Downwind?

Stand-Up Paddle Foil Downwind involves using a paddle board fitted with a foil, which lifts the board out of the water as speed increases. A paddle is used to launch the board out of the water and fly over the swell.

In this discipline, riders sail along wind-generated swells, taking advantage of the foil's thrust to glide above the water's surface.

Very popular in Hawaii, Downwind can be found on all coasts, and allows you to make incredible crossings at sea or along the coast, as long as you stay with the wind!



Downwind essentials

To excel in SUP Foil Downwind, the right equipment is essential:

  • An adapted paddle board, generally long and narrow to optimize speed.
  • A high-performance foil (high ratio) to follow the speed of the swell and a paddle to propel you at the start.
  • An appropriate, flexible and warm wetsuit that offers maximum freedom of movement while providing protection against the elements. 
  • Essential safety accessories: helmet, vest, vhf or telephone, flashlight.


Why is SUP Foil Downwind the ultimate experience?

Downwind offers a multitude of physical and mental benefits. In addition to providing an excellent cardiovascular and muscular workout, this discipline offers an incomparable sense of freedom and connection with nature. Gliding along the swell in harmony with the wind and the elements is a truly transcendent experience.


Technical experience

Riding a swell is no easy task: you have to be able to hold on to your board while paddling hard and straight, then manage your balance in the air, pumping phases (bouncing) and connecting phases between bumps (jumping from chop to chop to keep your speed). You'd think it was a given, but it never is! Every run is different, and the equipment will help you push your limits.

Physical experience

It's more than a complete sport: you'll need plenty of cardio and stamina, thigh-high support, and balance to spare! The challenge will also put your mental strength and determination to the test, so hang in there - it's worth it.

Ultimate sensations

Flying carpets is an incredible activity, pure gliding, without noise or friction, where you can feel the slightest ocean current. If you're a wing sailor, you'll love it, and surfing with nothing in your hands reinforces that incredible feeling, and downwind allows you to savor the feeling of freedom and glide for much longer.

Extraordinary adventures

Downwing foiling is an adventure in itself. As you move away from the coast, you play with the elements of the open sea, opening up a whole new dimension. And the playground is endless!



Tips for getting started and progressing in Downwind

As you can see, this discipline is not for everyone, so it's important to start with the basics. Familiarize yourself with your equipment and practice in conditions suited to your skill level.

  • Practice stand-up paddling to familiarize yourself with the paddle.
  • The wing will give you the chance to feel the balance of the foil in freefly.
  • Surfoil will give you a taste of free flight.

Then, step by step, you'll need to combine all these skills to learn how to take off with your paddle and fly.

The ultimate step will be to read the ocean and its bumps to fly from start to finish. 

Start by deflating your wing, deflate it offshore and store it in a waterproof bagpack, then paddle back to the starting point. It's a great way to test yourself by choosing the distance of your run, and you can do it on your own.

Note that it's easier to make runs on wind swell than on ground swell.



Stay positive! It's a complicated discipline where you have to remain humble in the face of the elements. The road is long and hard, but the results are incredible.

Don't hesitate to use planks with length and volume, as well as foil surface, so you'll put all the chances on your side.

Take advantage of days with no real conditions to practice rowing and keeping your balance, and even take off on a flat start.

Don't hesitate to take lessons from professionals to acquire the techniques you need to move forward with confidence.


Stan Bresson shares his experience as a beginner in downwind foiling.

"I love this waterman side of things, and foiling has been a big part of my sessions over the last few years, whether in wing or surf foil. The idea of flying several kilometers offshore appealed to me straight away!

I have to admit I've had a lot of disappointment over the last few months, so demanding is the sport in terms of physical fitness, technique and weather conditions.

But I can tell you that the few flights I've been able to make have kept me ultra-motivated to keep progressing."

Xavier Leroy shares is experience as an intermediate in downwind foiling. 

Originally from Bayonne, downwind isn't exactly the first activity that springs to mind when you live on the Basque and Landes coasts... but having recently moved to the Mediterranean, downwind takes on a whole new meaning. It's a bit of a compendium of all the board sports we love, with its mix of adventure, camaraderie, the unexpected, galleys and the Holy Grail.

It's an escape from the world, from overcrowded spots, from arguments and headaches, and it's a little like going back to basics, with good humor, endless waves and pure fun...

Equipment is going to be more important here than anywhere else, not only for safety, but also for surfing the endless conveyor belt of waves... Always opt for a tall, straight, comfortable board with a high-ratio foil and good surface area, and a mast between 75 and 80cm.

If possible, find a friend who's already done it and knows the area. This will save a lot of time and trouble...

As for safety gear, a helmet, a life jacket, food, water, a cell phone and, if possible, a VHF, and for long distances, of course, to warn the cross-country skipper and someone from your family in case you're missed... Another good idea, which we do amongst ourselves, is to geolocate ourselves in real time on Whatsapp, so that when we arrive we can see where the last person or persons are...

The learning curve may be long and arduous, but the rewards at the end of the day are unrivalled. Having tried a number of water sports, this one is superbly complete, mixing everything you love. Of course, for beginners, it's best to train on smooth water for those who've never done stand-up paddling, to understand balance and speed, as well as paddling and how to use it...

Reading the ocean is obviously going to be a key point, it can't be learned in a day, it requires a certain amount of learning if you decide to practice, you have to leave everything aside and put your heart and soul into it for a certain amount of time depending on each individual.

Don't give up, go for it, the reward is at the end of the tunnel!!! ;)

Good ride.

Louis Raynal shares his experience as an intermediate in downwind foiling.

"After many years of preparation in Olympic sailing, the discovery of the foil brought me back to “pleasure sailing”. While learning to sail a wing was quick, the downwind in a supfoil immediately took me out of my comfort zone. As a complete stranger to rowing sports, I had to start from scratch in this physically and technically demanding discipline. However, I was immediately won over by the values of this sport, which immediately proved addictive despite the many frustrations at the start. I think it's the ultimate discipline in terms of freedom: no more sailing, just surfing long distances offshore. Equipment plays a more essential role than ever, because optimising every detail improves accessibility and performance: board, foil, paddle, wetsuit, safety equipment, etc. Although DW is now my favourite sport, we mustn't forget the risk it can represent. Safety must be the watchword. We never leave without sharing our positions and letting people know where we're going, and we always take the necessary equipment with us: a soft, warm wetsuit, a telephone, a light, a knife, a VHF radio, etc."

Nicolas Beynet shares his experience as an expert in downwind foiling.

"For me, downwind foiling is the ultimate gliding experience. On the one hand, there's the feeling of freedom, serenity and calm, despite the stormy seas and strong winds.

Imagine going downwind in the late afternoon, when the water takes on a bluish-green hue and the orange evening light reflects off the crests of the waves perfectly arranged in this salty chaos.

On either side of you, inquisitive deep-sea birds, who accompany you for a few moments as you skim the waves. If you add to that a few good friends to share a run like this, it's a bit quintessential. Because happiness is nothing if not shared.

On the other hand, there's the sporty side that I love, which brings all your senses together and demands great concentration. The explosiveness you need for take-off, the balance you have to manage to avoid falling off before the take-off, and managing the foil in flight.

The most important quality that's sure to save your legs is wave reading. It's a real game of chess, and that's the beauty of it. The better the reading, the less you'll have to "pump" to catch pockets of wave energy.

In downwind, the only limit is yourself!

I would like to add an important point about safety on every outing:

  • Notify CROSS and friends
  • Don't overestimate yourself
  • Always carry a telephone

Enjoy your ride! "




SUP Foil Downwind is much more than just a water sport, it's a true adventure that takes you beyond the limits of imagination. With the right equipment and a good dose of determination, you can explore the oceans with confidence and experience unforgettable moments.

Tell us about your experiences!

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