Top 5 Tips for Paddling in Headwind

We get it, paddle boarding is fun and extremely addictive. Very much so that sometimes our judgement becomes skewed because “the water is calling, and you must go”. We must all take caution when we begin to think this way. Our best advice is to ALWAYS be safe no matter how much we yearn to get in the water. First and foremost, before getting on your inflatable SUP, check the wind forecast. If you are a beginner, we strongly recommend not paddling out farther than you can swim. Here are a few tips some helpful tips to help with your future paddle boarding rides.

USEFUL TIP: Check to local weather forecast by visiting or any other weather app. We here at NIXY like to use the Wind Compass app. These options will let you check conditions before starting your paddling session.

 How windy is too windy, you ask? If you can avoid it, stay on land if the wind is over 10mph unless you are down winding or paddle surfing. We highly suggest beginner paddlers to choose flat calm days to go paddling.

There are two types of wind:

Off-Shore Wind: These are the winds blowing form shore pushing you out to the sea, lake, or river. This kind of wind direction are the most dangerous for paddle boarding. You would be surprised on how quickly it will push you out to the sea and even more surprised at how hard it is to paddle back against the wind.

On-Shore Wind: This is the kind of wind that blows afar out in the water towards the land. If you are in the ocean you will need to be care with shore break. Shore breaks can be a dangerous hazard. Be sure to stay away from the breaking zone and closest to the area with less waves. If you are caught in a shore break, let your board go to avoid being hit. Keep yourself safe first then go collect your board on the surface.

USEFUL TIP: Develop a skill to read wind! How? The wind creates ripples that sometimes look like dark patches in the water. Practice looking for areas of dark patches and gage the size of ripples. Look for calm areas and softer texture on the water. This is where you want to paddle. If you are seeing whitecaps, you may want to avoid that since it is a sign of very strong winds. Beware of not feeling any wind at all. In most cases, this will mean the wind is behind you which will push out quickly.

What to do when paddle boarding headwind?

  1. Always paddle out into the wind start a SUP session. This good habit will typically keep you safe and out of trouble since you are going against the wind. On the return trip, the wind will be to your back guiding you to shore.
  2. Stand a bit further forward on the board to ensure the nose of your iSUP is close to the water. By changing the weight forward, you will move more efficiently.
  3. Increase your stroke rate. Shortening the length of your stroke will help you move faster. Additionally, if you lower either one or both hands down the shaft, you will be able to move a little faster against the wind.
  4. Feather your blade by twisting your wrist inwards on the recover stroke. This ensures the paddle will lessen the resistance against the wind.
  5. Reduce wind resistance. If you are paddling when the wind picks up and you can no longer move forward, you will first want to reduce your wind resistance as much as possible. If standing is difficult, get down on your knees and paddle like you would on a canoe. Bring your hands down the paddle so that it is closer to the blade. If that is still too difficult, lay down on your belly and “prone paddle”. You can do this by adjusting the paddle underneath your chest and alternate sides to paddle forward like a surfer would with their arms. To practice this position, we suggest trying on calm days. You will get a great workout as well!
headwind paddle board tips

Have questions? Do not hesitate to ask! We are happy to share paddling tips/experience and help our NIXY tribe stay safe. Have an amazing paddling adventure!

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