During the recent series of storms we have been experiencing, I couldn’t help myself. I needed to find out just how fast you can go unassisted on a SUP. Well unassisted from any mechanical device perspective.

The situation wasn’t perfect, by the time I had cleared the desk of the must do items, it was late, the sky was dark and the wind still shifting around, but I had to give it a go anyway. The trade off was do I go up wind further and have a more favorable downwind run angle but this would mean doing a much longer run and risk getting caught out on the bay in the dark doing a solo paddle with the wind gusting over at over 40 knots. The other option was to opt for a near shore run. I opted for the near shore run. This would mean slightly less wind, a bit of hard work to create a true downwind run and heaps of cross shore breaking waves left over from when the northerly wind was howling.

The results were amazing!

While on the water, I knew the wind was strong as at times there was spray coming off the water even in the troughs between the waves, but I felt cocooned from the conditions. This was understandable as I was wearing a full wetsuit, wetsuit hood, gloves and booties. There was something else weird about the paddle. While I felt like I was getting nice long runs, I never had the sensation of dropping into a runner, just periods of unbelievable acceleration.

In fact the paddle didn’t seem to rate compared to some of the downwind paddles we have had lately. All that stood out in my mind was the constant struggle to force a line that would give me at least a little burst of a true downwind run before giving my right side another workout to make it to the arranged pick up spot. So after racing into a hot shower to warm up I wasn’t in any rush to analyses the data from my Magellan Step Up GPS watch. Finally late today I got to downloading the data and doing a bit of analysis.

Here’s the track

SUP Speed – The answer

Oh by the way if anyone is interested, the answer is 28.6 km / hour. In all I had heaps of reading above 20km / hour and quite a few over 25km / hr.

If you take a look at the track I took, you can see I had to sacrifice some of the run angle a little to get a true downwind burst at a point just past the half way mark of the paddle.

Here’s a few interesting thoughts and observations;

  • Now I understand why I didn’t have a sensation of dropping into the waves, at times I was actually traveling faster than the waves.
  • To put that speed into perspective, 28.6 km / hour is around double the speed the likes of Danny Ching, Conner Baxter and the other elites were doing in the much discussed 200 m sprints.
  • Call me a “SUP kook” if you like but give me SUP that I can handle and feel comfortable going out in conditions where I can go twice as fast as when I have to bust my A#@!! in perfect conditions to only go half the speed for at best 200 meters.

Just for the record, here is the wind readings from South channel, next time I hope to be able to time the paddle a little better.

Wind graph of south channle dounig the downwind sup paddle