Downwinders

Share this post

Downwind stand-up paddling is my new favorite sport. Here is why.

The sport involves finding a windy place on the water with rolling waves. Rivers, bays, large lakes, and the ocean can provide great conditions. The equipment you need is a paddle and a special board. The board is 12 to 14 feet long and 26 to 30 inches wide, with a bottom rocker that permits it to ride up and over waves—though it is too big to surf with in the classic style.

Since surfing has been around on the U.S. mainland since 1912, what took so long for someone to stand up on the board with a paddle? Canoeists used paddles while standing for hundreds of years and a few surfers in Hawaii in the 1940s stood on their boards to patrol the beaches. The sport itself took off in the 1990s with the first competitions in the early 2000s. Novel board shapes and improved paddle design opened the sport up to the masses—so much so that it became the fastest growing water sport in 2013.

Downwinding is one amazing variant of stand-up paddling. Once getting upwind, either by land or boat, one paddles out into the middle of the waterway and points the board downwind. While you can stand still and glide, or paddle continuously and glide even faster, the skill of the sport involves accelerating at just the right time. You do this by paddling quickly, catching the motion of the wave, and then surfing it downwind.  

Unlike in normal surfing—where the wave you catch is the one behind you— the downwinding board goes faster than the waves, so the wave you want to catch is the one in front of you. This means riding up the back of the wave by paddling, cresting the top, and then surfing down the face over and over again. The windier and wavier, the more fun, the more exhilarating, and the more addicting.

So why my fascination? There are few sports that provide speed, excitement, athletic power, balance, and a little fear (from being out in the ocean and/or the speed of the waves); all without injury. Unless you fall onto your board, it‘s pretty hard to get hurt downwinding. And, increasing your sports fun factor while not getting hurt becomes more important as you age.  

I love taking risks, pushing the limits in sports and physical challenges, and competing with myself to achieve new goals. But, I detest the downtime from injuries associated with almost all other exciting sports.

We teach our children to do dangerous things safely. For a sports injury doctor like me, it is nirvana to do dramatically exciting things with little danger of injury. I am actively searching for other sports like downwinding—for both me and my patients.

Posted by Kevin R. Stone, M.D on October 8th, 2017
Share this post
Fix a meniscus to avoid arthritis
A recent study suggested that meniscus surgery doesn't help. Studies can be misleading. Even small losses of meniscus tissue lead to big changes in force concentration on the tibia (shin bone) and eventually arthritis.
Steph-Curry-Ankle-Injury
The questions most often asked by athletes, coaches, trainers, and of course fans are, “What can be done to speed healing?” “What can reduce the re-injury rate—and are there permanent solutions?”
The Eyes Have It
The eyes receive and give away information. They communicate in a language we have yet to define. We know they are windows to the soul, portals into the mind, and transmitters of emotions, intentions, and desires. Because we don’t always control their transmissions, we fear their exposure. Shouldn’t we start to train our visual communication skills?
July 14th, 2015
In light of Wes Matthews and other NBA athletes suffering Achilles ruptures, Dr. Stone speaks to Mavs Moneyball, a...
April 27th, 2016
Dr Stone talking about Steph Curry's injury and the Warrior's season.
December 11th, 2014
"A few select orthopedic surgeons and researchers around the country are pioneering alternate cartilage...

Stone, K.R., A.W. Walgenbach, A. Freyer, T.J. Turek, and D.P. Speer. 2006.

Stone, K.R., A. Freyer, T. Turek, A.W. Walgenbach, S. Wadhwa, and J. Crues. 2007.

Stone K.R., A.W. Walgenbach, A. Freyer. 2008.