Tech Talk: How to pick your downwind board size?


Today, we’re gonna be talking about how to pick your downwind board size. We’re coming to you from Hood River, Oregon in our little makeshift studio out here in the gorge. My name’s Sam. I’m the new North American sales manager for Appletree.

Really stoked to be part of the team and excited to have some more representation here in North America. So we got our downwind boards. How do we pick our size?

First thing: the importance of volume

The first thing we’re gonna decide on is our volume. That’s gonna be kind of our guiding dimension here. Generally, the other dimensions such as length and width, when you’re looking at production boards, are gonna fall into place after you pick your volume. You’re just not gonna have too many different length and width options to pick from. So for volume, you’re gonna be thinking about your weight, first and foremost, and then your skill level, second.

The perfect all around volume

For myself, we can use myself as a reference point. I came from a fairly extensive foiling background and I’m a hundred and sixty, hundred sixty five pounds. For me, a hundred liters is the perfect all around volume. If I was gonna just have one board, that would be the volume I would pick.

If you’re a beginner rather than an advanced foiler or you just want the maximum ease of use, this is just easiest path to success. Bump yourself up in size. It really just makes it easier to learn.

Downwind foil board volume Vs. Wing board volume

Unlike wing boards, your volume’s gonna stay relatively similar with down wind foiling. You might have a big change in volume after you figure out the sport. But generally, you’re gonna stay within that ten, fifteen liter range of what you start from. It doesn’t make any sense to go really small. The gains just aren’t there.

How to pick your downwind board size

Second: length and width

So that’s how we discuss volume. If you’re in between two sizes, always kick up to the bigger size. It’s gonna make your life so much easier. I always like to say that the performance gain from a smaller volume board isn’t even close to worth it due to the ease of use loss from that smaller volume board, so always kick up the size. So now you got your volume, and you wanna decide on your length and your width.

Take your general riding conditions into account

I think a lot of that has to do with conditions, where you’re riding generally. So here in Hood River is one of the bookends of conditions. We have wind driven swell, nice and short periods. Generally pretty slow moving waves and fairly steep. All those things you have to take into account.

Short or long downwind boards

You can get away with a much shorter board in the gorge. I like a shorter board for downwinding. I am just really into just making as many turns as possible. Just kinda surfing and cruising around on my downwind board. We’re not racing anyone. If I have to wait a couple extra waves to get up and go, that’s okay with me. So I ride a six eleven board here in the gorge. People here ride anywhere from I’d say the high sixes into the low eights around here.

And then the other bookend of conditions, I would say, is a place like Maui. I’m sure there’s other places in the world as well, but those are places I’m familiar with, which is why I’m using them. Those guys and girls are using an average of eight footers all the way up to nine. And sure, there’s still people using sevens and I’m sure even sixes that really want their short, nimble stuff. But the open ocean swells are moving much faster and require a longer board to get into, generally speaking.

Is the width of down wind boards important?

And then, you know, with production boards, you really probably don’t have to worry about picking your width too much. Especially if you have length and volume then you’re gonna have the width. It’s just they set the dimensions. They’ve done a ton of testing and you should trust those for the most part.

Sizing your Appletree down wind board

Just as an example, in the Appletree lineup, we have a narrow option and a wide option in the Apple Skipper Downwind boards. So this is a narrow. This is six eleven, ninety liter narrow. It’s eighteen inches wide. This is my summer board. It’s great when I’m in board shorts, and it’s windy and fun and sunny and, you know, not worried about falling in the water. And I can get up and go.

Behind me here is a six eleven by twenty and a half. It’s a hundred liter board. Slightly wider, slightly more liter edge. So my winner board here when it gets chaotic. You know, you’re in five mil booties, five mil wetsuit. You feel super disconnected from your board. It’s cold. Everything just makes it a little bit harder to ride. That extra width and a little bit extra liters just makes it so much easier for me.

The narrower board is more efficient through the water, but the wider board’s more stable. So the more stable the board, the more power, generally, you can put into your paddle. So there’s always a trade off there.

Let us know if you have any questions

But, yeah, that’s length and width and the volume. If you wanna get into it a little more nitpicky and still have some questions, feel free to reach out. I could talk to you on all the different reasons why you might want this versus that.

Hope you now know how to pick your downwind board size. Nice to meet everybody. Cheers!

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