Two days ago a had a little time to get a paddle workout in so I took out one of the Tahoe SUP (Zephyr 12’6") boards from the demo fleet for a 30 min. workout paddle. With wind, chop and tidal current against me on the Hudson (I did want a workout) I found a few of the following useful in making headway albeit slowly;

  1. Stay in the relative slackwater within 25’ of shore. (knew that)

  2. Tacking seemed to improve progress although it might have been an illusion.

  3. Using a thumbs down type forward stroke from Freestyle Canoe as Karen Knight has shown me, and patiently my wife has reminded me, certainly diminished the times to transfer the blade to the opposite side of the board so I could propel more and not loose cadence or speed during switching sides.

    So what other tactics are there in fighting wind/current? (.75 mile wide river here, no boulders creating convenient eddies to attain from)

    Rob? You’re the vocal SUP-guru here.

    See you on the water,


    The River Connection, Inc.

    Hyde Park, NY

Marshall, good points! I always tell my students that one of the obvious cons of sup is going upwind. But there are ways to make it work even in strong wind.

  • tacking works as you found out but does require more paddling. Another similar version is to paddle in a staggered foot stance paddling straight. This rotates your body somewhat reducing windage. Take some practice for some in having a foot behind. Which foot behind? Whichever feels best behind you (or you’d fall back on, a good test).

  • Short cadence removing the paddle at your toes, using as much upper body as possible (straightish arms). Every time you return your paddle to the catch the board slows -reduce this time. Also called the Tahitian stroke used for racing.

  • Paddle on one side. 2 ways: push one rail into the water a bit and paddle on that side. adjust your trim on the board to find a sweet spot where it works - doesn’t do as well on shorter boards or with a lot of rocker. 2nd type - canted stroke, basicaly a j-stroke - pulling in from beyond the nose and straightening to the rail, can be tiresome though.

  • use eddies or small bays or points offering wind protection to go upwind. may sound like a longer paddle but more efficient than going straight against the wind. docks offer protection too.

  • feather your blade, even in non wind situations. this really helps. keep the blade close to the water as you return to the catch.

  • worse case, if going upwind not for fitness - sit! kneeling is popular but you’re still not as efficient as sitting. choke up on the paddle shaft, use a torso only stroke (think canoe or outrigger stroke). Also prone padding is the most efficient way to go upwind but exhausting if you’re not used to it.

  • more expensive route - get a pointy nosed board or even better one with a point and vee in the hull also called ‘displacement’ in sup terms. way more efficient than a round nosed board.

    around here, upwinders are rewarded by downwinders. i tell my race sup students to practice paddling upwind not only for fitness buy also in case the race ends up being an upwinder. paddling upcurrent is wise too in rivers or tidal rapids.


    hope that helps… :slight_smile:

I’ll experiment…
With the Tahitians and feathering the blade.

The others I’m aware of and the Tahoe SUP boards are all a pointy ended displacement hull design.

Sorry, not going in for PDP -Prone Down Paddling. Saw a couple of folks doing that on the Blackburn Challenge and it looked like an invitation to a special case of masochism. I’ll use a paddle.

Good chop on the Hudson today. I’ll put it all into play later after the Showroom closes.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

Canoe skills…
…apply to the SUP quite a bit. The proper J-stroke does wonders on a SUP. I never have to change sides…MAYBE once every 30min for about 10 strokes, then it’s back to my onside. When I need an offside stroke, I use a crossover. Saves time and energy. Works for me.