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Path of least resistance – using the elements to your favour when stand up paddle boarding.

The weather and SUP are two partners that’ll never leave one another. In the UK, as many will appreciate, our whole lives revolve around Mother Nature’s moods and conditions day to day. It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking watersports or being out an about generally: how the weather is on any given day will affect all this.

We’ve talked about wind before, as well as tides and general weather conditions and how this may affect your stand up paddle boarding. There are still comments, however, regarding how inclement weather means an end to SUP sessions, when actually this isn’t always necessary. Understanding plays a big part and knowledge of how to use what you have plays a big part in scoring more time afloat.


Many paddlers don’t care for wind – which we get. Whilst paddling into breeze can be a great workout most can do without it. Gusts themselves can make SUP tricky but chop and current caused by a blow only adds to the mix. Yet stand up paddling and wind go together like cheese and ham. In fact, the paddling of any craft has synergy with wind.

The UK has far too few glassy calm days meaning if you wait around for those idyllic periods you’re really cutting down the amount of water time you’re likely to get. Take a leaf out of paddlers’ books from yesteryear and learn to work with the blow. If they’d have sat it out, waiting for the best day of the year, then many of the lands we know today may not have been discovered.

Perfectly flat, glass and windless BUT with big swell.

There are two courses of action you can take if there’s wind in the mix. Firstly you should have up to date weather forecast info and know it’s going to be blowy and from what direction. You should also be familiar with your chosen spot (or spots) and be able to interpret the weather forecast data for said location(s). Next is to ascertain whether you can launch upwind and use the breeze, blowing on your back (or as close to), for powering downwind away from the breeze. This practise is commonly known as a downwinder and is a real fun element to stand up. You’ll need to sort logistics though. As in how to get back from your get out to where you initially launched. This can be parking up a vehicle where you finish for a taxi road back to point A. Yes, there’s a bit of initial faff, but it’ll be worth it.

Downwinders don’t need to be hardcore, as some elite paddling athletes make them appear. As long as the breeze is blowing across the beach from either left to right or right to left then you’re good to go. Avoid offshore winds blowing you out to sea or the middle of the lake! If it’s bolt onshore you could slog it upwind, then reap the rewards coming back. Although your plan B revert may be best here…

If a downwinder isn’t going to happen then choice two with gusty winds in the mix is to seek shelter. This means deviating from your original plan to head elsewhere. People by nature are creatures of habit. Once an idea’s formed of where they’re headed for SUP fun thoughts of a secondary location, and plan B, aren’t usually given the time of day. Yet this should always be kept in mind. When you’re regular SUP haunt’s blown out heading to a different, more shielded put in will keep you paddling and scoring sessions. Be prepared to change plans and you’ll be all smiles.


It’s not only wind that can cause issue with paddle sessions. Tide and current may also disrupt your fun. As with wind you’ll need the applicable knowledge. If it’s tide we’re talking about then understanding how the ebb and flow of our moon and sun’s gravitational pull on bodies of water affects things. Then applying this knowledge to your chosen stand up paddle board spot will pay dividends.

For instance: if you’re thinking of heading along a tidal river – perhaps from the mouth – then beginning your trip as the tide turns to flow outwards to sea isn’t the best bet. More than anything this is dangerous as you’ll end up swept into the ocean. The most positive outcome is you’ll not make much headway and become quickly fatigued.

Optimum tide times don’t always crop up when you have a window of opportunity. If this is the case, then as with windy weather, consider a plan B and relocate your SUP plans to a more favourable location.

Warm, sunny, slack tide with minimal breeze – as good as it gets (often).

There really aren’t any two ways about it. If you want to maximise your time afloat stand up paddling in the UK then you need a grasp of basic weather and tidal information as described. Understanding how this affects your SUP put in is the next step.

Being blunt: moaning and groaning about the lack of perfect SUP days won’t see any kind of progression. Maybe this isn’t a priority, although from what we see and hear everyone loves spending time afloat, this more this can be achieved the better.

To get this information the best option is taking lessons from an experienced coach who’ll be able to guide you properly. There’ll be some homework involved where you’ll need to research and learn more. It doesn’t have to be school all over again. After all, this knowledge will directly impact your fun so in its own right is fun as well… If you treat it this way. Knowledge is power, as the old saying goes, something that still rings true today with whatever topic we’re talking about.

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