Tech Talk: downwind board shape for light wind winging


What’s going on everybody? Sam here with Appletree. I’m on the beautiful island of Maui. Super excited and super grateful to be here for a couple weeks. Today we’re going to be talking about downwind boards or the downwind board shape for light wind winging. Why it’s so amazing and how it can really open up days on the water for you. And what sort of dimensions are going to really work well. 

Choose the right board dimensions

So let’s start with the dimension part of it. That’s super subjective to what you want, how big you are, and where you’re riding. We did a ‘how to pick your downwind board size’ video and a lot of those topics really apply to light wind winging.


But basically, quick overview of that is you’re going to want to start with your weight, and that’ll dictate, your weight and your skill level will dictate your volume. If you’re looking at production boards, once you have your volume in mind, you maybe have one or two different boards to pick from. And then you just have to decide between those dimensions what fits your skill level and your area best.

If you have any questions on how to decide what fits your area best, go look at that downwind board video. That’ll really iron out those, those topics. 

Disparities with your average downwind board size

In general, if you’re just using that shape for light wind winging, you can go shorter and a bit wider than your average downwind board. This will allow you a little bit more stability when you’re trying to get from your knees to your feet. And it’ll reduce the length a little bit while keeping the volume. To allow it to be a little bit more agile. 

It opens up many days on the water

The downwind board for light wind winging is like, I was just starting to use it at the very end of last summer. And now this past season in the gorge, which is where I live, on light days, it was comical how light of winds you can go on. My friends are out there on inflatable SUPs with beers paddling around, and I’m out there winging on a downwind board. You can go in single digits, super easy, like lulling four or five knots, maxing out at nine knots, on a four meter wing, and on a thousand foil, and you can have a blast!

Light wind or gusty spots

It’s really quite comical. And it really opens up so many days on the water for people that don’t live in a place like, you know, Maui or the Gorge. Like lakes and places that just aren’t as windy. You really get out in the water so much more.

Easy to paddle in

It also has the added benefit of if the wind does die, which if you’re going out in sort of marginal conditions, there’s definitely that possibility. A downwind board shape is easy to paddle in, or even just stand on and slog in without being on foil. You’re gonna get home with that downwind shape. 

Why is a downwind shape suitable for light wind winging?

What allows that to get up and go on light wind? It’s the long and narrow shape that we took from downwinding. Everyone put a lot of energy into making these downwind shapes super efficient. It is the easiest shape to get up and go on a foil. Cause you just don’t have that much energy to work with to get up on a foil when you’re SUP downwinding, right? And then everyone started to realize like, I can get going in the lightest of light winds. That’s what makes the downwind board a super awesome light wind wing board.

Downwind board shape for beginners

The other benefit is, if you’re just getting into the sport, and you’re thinking about, what board should I get as a beginner? You could look at a bigger downwind board. There’s a lot of added benefits. I think  a lot of the things that I just mentioned for light wind winging, like the ease of getting up on a foil, the amount of days spent on the water. Those type of things are going to be really nice for a beginner, right?

Maybe the one drawback is side to side they’re going to be a little bit tippier. But you can still get a 22, 23 inch wide board, still going to be tippy side to side, but with the extra length and the ease of it getting going and tracking through the water I think it offsets that.

A downwind board is a keeper in your quiver

If you’ve aged out of this board, you can go to a smaller wing board like I have next to me. But you still have this  awesome tool in your quiver. You don’t have to sell it off or pass it down to a kid or a friend. It’s still this really usable tool in your quiver. So it’s pretty nice to keep that in rotation. 

That’s the gist of light wind winging on the downwind board. We get a lot of questions about it. People ask about size and shape and is it really worth it? How light of winds can you go on? All of that depends a lot on you. And the conditions that you ride in.

Using myself as a reference,  I like, you know,  under 7 foot for sure. Around 90 liters works well for me. And I can get going on a 4 meter wing, 5 to 7 knots. and you stay up and you’re having a blast, you can still do your tacks, your backwinds, you can rip turns still, it is still a super agile board, in the waves or in the flat water, or whatever you want.

If you have any questions, feel free to hit us up and stoked to see you out on the water!

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