Nothing can compare to the thrill of flying over the water, on wind-generated bumps for kilometers on end. In Cape Town we are lucky to have the South Easter, a gale force wind which blows from spring to autumn. Often this wind blows, for days at a time, along two world renowned runs : Millers to Fish Hoek and the Milnerton to Big Bay. But as with all sports, downwinding has its risks and it is up to you to eliminate these risks and enjoy your time on the water.
The boards used in Downwinding range anywhere from 12’6” – 17’ in length (my first run was on an 11’6 Cruiser and for a first run it was great.) The majority of riders use a 14’ board. Why? More manageable than an Unlimited (16’-17’) and faster than a 12’6. Before heading out, make sure your board is ready. Check for any serious damage (dings, cracks, creases etc), check that the fin is securely attached and the fin box is not damaged, check your leash plugs for cracks and if your board requires a valve ensure it is securely fastened.
There has been much talk about paddle length over the years, at the end of the day it really boils down to personal preference but generally between 6-10 inches taller than you for downwinding. Check your paddle for any damage before you hit the water. Even the smallest knick in the shaft can result in a snap when pressure is applied.