When it is windy, can you paddle board?

The wind is the biggest obstacle for paddle boarding 

There’s no question about that. When you board paddles, the wind can be your most dangerous enemy.¬†

Your body behaves like a sail while you’re on a paddle board. And the wind will carry you away from getting back into the sea where you don’t want to go.¬†

It is often challenging and sometimes impossible to paddle into a strong storm. A powerful one will avoid your paddling and push you deeper to the sea. 

I was in heavy winds, every ounce of my power to return to the sea. It’s a terrifying scenario.¬†

Once I had also been in deep trouble and was blessed that a boat saved me from the sea. If he hadn’t stopped to support me, I hate to think what might have happened.¬†

What is a healthy paddle boarding wind speed? 

Personally, I would not want to go out if the wind is more than 10 mi / h (unless I wind downhill or paddle). Even for an experienced paddler, winds over 10 minutes dramatically raise the likelihood of serious problems. 

Beginners can just go out with little to no wind on quiet flat days. Another good rule is that you should never paddle away from swimming. 

9 Boarding tips for Heavy Wind Paddle 

1. Get a Wind Prediction 

Local weather forecast on search engines. Be mindful that the wind can be erratic and change rapidly. 

You can use the dedicated website windfinder.com

2. To decide wind direction, use trees, and flags 

While I drive to a launch point, I look at trees and flags in a wind direction. I’ll make sure I know exactly where the wind is going before I start. And I keep watching the wind while I paddle.¬†

3. Don’t paddle offshore with a steep wind¬†

Offshore winds are winds that blow to the sea or lake or river from the shore. The most dangerous paddle boarding winds are offshore winds. 

You are shocked how easily you are powered even by a gentle offshore wind. And it will surprise you even more how difficult it is to paddle back in the wind. 

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4. Paddle in the storm still 

Take this tip seriously, please. This is one of the key tips in this article. 

Paddle always in the wind when you start a SUP session. The direction of the wind can shift, but generally this one habit will keep you from trouble. 

If you go out paddling in the wind, on your way back you should have the wind. 

On your return you’ll be tired of paddling, so you probably want the wind to blow in your back.¬†

5. Wear a leash board 

Your most critical piece of protective gear is a paddle board leash. 

You keep a board leash attached to your computer. The board will travel away from you easily if there is some wind and you slip off your paddle board. 

I don’t care if you’re Michael Phelps, if it’s windy, you won’t catch your board. Water is a nightmare scenario. Water to the sea.¬†

6. Wear a life jacket

Using a life jacket or an inflatable belt of life will save your life. Absolutely, there is no excuse not to use a pfd. 

7. Understand the level of paddling 

Don’t overestimate your ability to paddle. Do you know how good you are a paddler? Have you had windy experiences? Did you paddle in a heavy wind? How about your balance when the water gets choppy?¬†

8. Paddle a mate with 

Paddling with some friends is always a good idea. Bring a tow rope to your mates and keep an eye on them. 

9. Learn to read the texture of water 

The wind can influence the texture of the water. The wind creates ribs which often look like dark spots in the water. Naturally, Whitecap means that the wind is very high. 

Practice in the hunt for areas with dark patches and the ripple size and scope. Look for clear, peaceful areas sometimes winding down from small islands. 

Beware of the water texture as you paddle board to develop your wind reading skills. 

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How does board size impact wind performance? 

Paddles with a pointed nose, displacement hull and narrow width are usually best suited for high winds. (It would also be more difficult to balance a narrower board.) 

In my experience, inflatable materials are more easily blown by the wind than hard paddles. Inflatables are heavier, and more boards are exposed to the wind. And the thickness makes the paddler bigger and windier on the water. 

You want a paddle board that glides well to wind through. So a longer board would be ideal for gliding. The path to go is long and narrow. 

If you get in trouble with wind 

1. Low to reduce wind resistance 

Hang your hips higher to lower your profile and reduce your wind power. If you move your hands down the paddle, it will help. 

Use an offset location to minimise wind resistance. Attach slightly your body by putting one foot further up the board. This is more like a surfing position, just not so serious. 

Keep the weight of your body forward. You can just have your front foot in front of the middle handle. You want to keep the board nose down so it doesn’t get windy.¬†

Now use smaller , faster strokes with your hands down the paddle. 

Feather your blade in your paddle (recovery phase) into the water. Turn your paddle so that the blade edge slips through the air, and less wind can capture the return. 

Low to reduce wind resistance. 

2. Take your knees 

You’re just paddling a canoe to get low on your knees. Choose your paddle and make fast short strokes.¬†

How many times I have paddled my knees, I can’t tell you. It decreases the wind resistance and makes keeping your balance easier¬†

3. If you can’t advance now, prone paddle¬†

If you still can’t advance into the wind on your board and paddle it a surfer with your head. Place your paddle blade under your chest with your handle on your nose to hold it hidden. If the conditions are fine, you might want to practise prone paddling,¬†

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4. Find wind shelter 

Keep an eye on areas that shield against the storm. That you can get out of the wind in case of an emergency. Small islands also provide good cover for the downwind. 


While the wind can be risky when you board the sport, if you use common sense. Following these rules, you should prevent any wind issues. Track the wind always when you board the paddle and if the wind picks up quickly. Still wear a leash sheet. Paddle in the wind all the time. Stop winds offshore. And don’t go out if it’s windy.

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