Top 5 Tips for Paddling in Headwind

We understand the allure of paddle boarding; it's fun and incredibly addictive. So much so that sometimes our judgment becomes skewed by the call of the water. However, we must always prioritize safety, especially when paddling in headwind. Before you launch your inflatable SUP, always check the wind forecast. If you are a beginner, we strongly advise against paddling out farther than you can swim. Here are some crucial tips to help you handle paddling in headwind during your future paddle boarding sessions.

USEFUL TIP: Always check the local weather forecast before heading out. Websites like or apps like Wind Compass provide reliable wind and weather updates. These resources are vital for planning safe paddling outings.

How windy is too windy? Ideally, stay on land if winds exceed 10mph unless you are experienced in downwinding or paddle surfing. We recommend that beginner paddlers choose flat, calm days for their outings.

Understanding Different Wind Types:

Off-Shore Wind: These winds blow from the shore, pushing you out to the sea, lake, or river. Offshore winds can be particularly dangerous for paddle boarders, as they can quickly push you far out, making it challenging to return against the wind.

On-Shore Wind: This type of wind blows from the water towards the land. When paddling in the ocean, be cautious with shore breaks, which can pose significant risks. It's best to paddle in areas with fewer waves and avoid the breaking zone entirely. If caught in a shore break, prioritize your safety: let your board go and focus on getting yourself to safety first, then retrieve your board.

USEFUL TIP: Develop your ability to read wind patterns. The wind creates ripples and sometimes dark patches on the water. Practice identifying these areas to find the best spots for smoother paddling. If you see whitecaps, it's a sign of strong winds, and such areas are best avoided. Also, be wary if you don't feel any wind at all; it could mean the wind is at your back, pushing you out swiftly.

Strategies for Paddling in Headwind:

  1. Always start paddling into the wind. This practice will help keep you safe, as you'll tackle the hardest part of your session first. With the wind at your back on the return trip, you'll have an easier time getting back to shore.
  2. Position yourself further forward on the board to keep the nose close to the water. Shifting your weight forward helps you move more efficiently against the wind.
  3. Increase your stroke rate. Shortening your strokes can enhance your speed. Lowering your hands on the paddle shaft also aids in faster movement.
  4. Feather your blade by twisting your wrist inwards during the recovery stroke. This adjustment reduces resistance against the wind.
  5. Minimize wind resistance if the wind intensifies. If standing becomes too challenging, kneel and paddle like you would in a canoe. In extreme conditions, lie down on your belly and paddle prone, using your hands as if surfing.
headwind paddle board tips

Have questions? Don't hesitate to reach out! We're eager to share our paddling tips and experiences to help our NIXY tribe stay safe. Have an amazing paddling adventure! For more tips and techniques, check out our blog!


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