5 Tips for Paddling a SUP Prone Upwind

Need to get upwind?  Every one's so busy downwinding they rarely think about getting upwind until they need to.  Many of the downwinders here in the Pacific NW reverse direction forcing paddlers to either slog it out to the the finish upwind, or downwind it back to their starting point.

In my basic classes, the first thing I teach is how to paddle upwind by sitting or prone paddling. Then we work on standing up.  Someone once told me 'be a man, stand up.'  That only works sometimes, in others you'll be much less of a man when you end up on the news after you got blown far from your car.

Art Aquino paddling upwind on Puget Sound
Prone paddling is the most efficient way get upwind in heavy wind.  You might try paddling upwind in 15 plus knots standing, kneeling, sitting, then prone.  See which one works best.  Prone can be tiring if you're not used to it.  Ever see traditional surfers paddling prone on flat days?  They're training for getting caught inside, in a rip or for paddling in cross or head winds.

5 Tips for Paddling Prone with a SUP:

1. Try paddling your sup a mile or so prone.  If your neck is sore from being in the cobra position (prone - top of back raised up, knock/head back and hands in water) then stick a PFD, chunk of foam or similar under your upper chest for support.

2. If your board is too wide to get your hands in the water, move towards the nose where the board narrows for better reach.

3. Place the power face of your paddle down on the board under your chest. The shaft/handle will stick out over the nose suspended above the deck.  (power face is curved side of blade face).

4. In waves you may want to slide back to prevent being covered in oncoming water. Downside of this is that the wind may catch the raised nose.

5. Use an alternating arm stroke and close your fingers to get the most out of strokes.

Here, PNW paddler Art Aquino paddles prone upwind in approx 30kts of wind on Puget Sound.