North Wales Downwind Questing

North Wales Downwind Questing

Due to its exposed location on the edge of the Irish Sea, North West Wales has a history with wind sports from windsurfing and sailing through to kite surfing and more recently a range of hydrofoiling disciplines. With a prevailing SW wind blowing, reliable conditions can be found along much of the Gwynedd and Conwy coastline. 

Wing foiling, (riding a hydrofoil while using a handheld inflatable wing to harness wind power) is a well established activity in North Wales. You only need to head somewhere like Rhosneigr, Llanfairfechan, Abersoch or Felinheli on a windy day to see folks blasting around.

Downwind foiling involves traveling between two points that line up with the direction the wind is blowing. There are a handful of wing foilers completing local runs and a small group of SUP foilers starting to link up various beaches and bays by a downwind run.

Any activity that involves downwind travelling is likely to be pretty exhilarating. The challenge of matching your skills and equipment with the conditions and your chosen venue all combine to make for a real adventure.

Kit for SUP downwind foiling

The aim of SUP downwind is to paddle your board fast enough so that the foil engages and lifts the board clear of the water. Once "on foil" progress is made by following lines of wind driven swell and waves. The energy in the water along with the efficiency of modern hydrofoils make it possible for a skilled rider to travel vast distances at relatively high speeds.

In the early days, downwind foiling was considered to only be an option in places that were exposed to large ocean swells and trade winds. As downwind foiling has evolved it has become apparent that the activity can be completed almost anywhere that the wind has been blowing long enough to generate waves.

In North Wales there are some stand-out locations that have provided some good quality downwind SUP outings, in no particular order. 

1. Llanfairfechan to Llandudno (west shore). approximately 12km. Works best around high tide with a 15knt SW wind. Alternative finish at Morfa Conwy if the wind is closer to W.

2. Llanbedrog to Pwllheli approximately 6km. Works on all tide heights with a 15knt SW wind. Exit options the entire length of Pwllheli South beach.

3. Pwllheli to Criccieth approximately 13km. Works on all tides with a 15knt WSW wind. Best when there is no significant SW ground swell. Shuttle potential using the train. 

4. Afonwen to Pwllheli approximatey 5.5km. Works on all tides with 15knt E wind. Best when there is no significant SW ground swell. Long approach.

5. Afon Menai / Menai Strait, Gallows point to Menai Bridge. approximately 4km. Works best with a NE wind blowing over the incoming tide.

As things currently stand SUP downwind foiling is in its infancy in North Wales but hopefully over time more people will give it a go and get bitten by the challenge and reward these adventures provide. At Snowdonia Watersports we are more than happy to chat about our foiling experiences. If you are interested to find out more just drop in or get in touch and we'll happily regale our epic tales.


Disclaimer - Downwind paddling is a dangerous and risky activity with potential to create serious life threatening scenarios. The information contained in this article is intended for general interest only and does not constitute any kind of instruction. Downwind paddling involves exposure to deep, open water, wind and waves. Conditions can change rapidly during a run, visibility can come and go, wind can pick up or drop out. You will usually be a long way from help meaning if anything goes wrong you will be waiting a long time for rescue. Anyone heading out on a downwind paddle must accept full responsibility for themselves and their actions.

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