Author Topic: Whitewater WindSUP  (Read 1625 times)


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Whitewater WindSUP
« on: September 16, 2019, 01:50:53 AM »
I share a little experiment I've done: whitewater WindSUPing:

Some context:

Sometimes, I snowkite in the Alps: going uphill with the kite (usually upwind), land the kite at the top of the mountain (in fact usually in the other side where the wind stops), pack the kite, grab the folding ski poles, and ski downhill. It's a wonderful experience and I wanted to do the same on rivers. The good news is that the thermal wind goes uphill in the afternoon in spring and summer, so I can have always the wind against the water flow.

I have been looking at the options:
- kite. Issue is that the wind is not very steady on the mountains. Over snow, it's not a big issue: the kite fall on ground, just have to ski backwards to stretch the lines, and wait for the wind to blow again. But over water, it's not very safe: water flow will make the kite and its lines go down
- wing. Why not, it's the last fashion. But one issue: leash would be too dangerous, so I would have to handle the wing leash-less. Not sure it would be a big issue, there are a lot of sports where you hold on your tool all the time: Tennis, Abseiling (without prussik knot you have to hold the rope), Mountaineering (you hold on your ice axe)... Other issue is that wings have low performances on low wind, and where I live, thermal winds are low. But for going downwind it could be sufficient. I may have a try if I found a cheap wing.
- sail. Lot of advantages: if you fall the board will just go downstream, like a normal SUP. When wind stops you can still hold the sail. The sail allows to steer the board efficiently.

So I went for the sail. I found an inflatable WindSUP sail for $200. May be not very efficient for going upwind or going at a great speed. But for going slowly downwind it may do the job. And it's easy to transport (<2kg), easy to setup, easy to handle, easy to pack.

Here was my setup:
- usual white water SUP: 8'5 x 34" x 5" with four 2"5 fins
- the sail comes with a strap that goes around the board to hold the sail. I put it just in front of the center of gravity of the board (= in front of the handle, towards the nose)
- size of the inflatable sail: around 5m sq.
- shoes, pdf, helmet, no leash

- wind between around 3 and 10knots
- water flow: 20 cumecs, on a large and shallow river (65m large, mean depth ~40cm)

What I could do:
- park and ride: peel out, ferry, eddy out, going upstream on the eddies

What I couldn't do:
- going upstream on the main stream
- steering with the sail while going downstream. But my level in windsurf is low, so it may be possible with more windsurf skills
So in fact nothing I couldn't have done with the paddle. But with no effort at all, and I found it fun to play with stream and wind at the same time.

I will continue to experiment.
If you have tried something similar or plan to do, let's share your experience.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2019, 01:55:47 AM by fredi »