Downwind Safety

This is an evolving part of the sport, but here are some basics. Be safe. If you have not spent any time offshore then be warned the sea gets exponentially less safe the further you get from the beach!

Also - practice using it in less serious context, Siri can be a real stroppy character sometimes.

NB - PDF printable version here

Three Key Components of Safety

  1. Safety Gear - surviving getting into trouble

  2. Planning and Weather - not getting into trouble

  3. Safety Skills - what to do when getting rescued

Safety Gear


  1. Appropriate gear to spend many hours in the water

  2. Phone in a waterproof case with a charged battery

  3. Leash

  4. Tool

  5. Buoyancy aid and whistle

  6. Lumo reflective tape your paddle and board

Basic additions

  1. SafeTrx or similar local tracking app

  2. Phone (iPhone 14 has emergency SOS via Satellite)

  3. Nutrition (water, energy gels, liquid food)

  4. Signalling mirror

Getting serious

  1. PLB personal locator beacon (EPIRB)

  2. VHF in a waterproof pouch

  3. Strobe

  4. Flares

  5. Paddle leash?

Cold is what will kill you

In most places around the world, the thing that will actually kill you is hypothermia. I have enormous respect for the folks in the northern hemisphere who wear wetsuits and pogies and other hectic cold-water gear to paddle. source

Check the Coldwater Safety Golden rules (kayak stuff, but it largely applies):

  1. Wear Your PFD

  2. Dress For The Water Temperature

  3. Test your gear

Planning and Weather

For more details, see Plan For The Worst That Can Happen


  1. PIP - personal intention plan- tell someone where your planned start and exit points are, what vehicles you were using and where they will be left, possible early exits from your run, planned start and time.

  2. Have a plan, a fallback, and a few contingencies and exits in mind

  3. Navigation, how you intend to find your way without a map from the sea


  1. Wind and weather forecasts for the duration of time you plan to be on the water

  2. Likely wind shifts and implications if adverse (remember the weather is likely more settled after a frontal system passes, and very unpredictable before)

  3. Water temperatures

  4. Your fitness level

  5. Difficult points with wave rebounds, chop, currents

  6. Correct foil, correctly positioned for the worst of the run


It is very dangerous to assume safety in numbers. The group that you paddle with must practice group rescue techniques with the gear and in the conditions that you will be paddling in.  Keeping track of, let alone assisting another foiler in offshore conditions can be extremely challenging .

  1. Be very careful about who you crew with and their ability

  2. Expect to lose visibility with your group, and to lose contact via cellphone, so agree on a plan



  1. Knowing when to bail, especially when to call it because someone has joined who is a risk of causing an emergency

  2. Circle back to check on each other and communication practice

  3. What will you do if your paddle snaps? Zip ties to fix? Can you prone paddle up? Adjusting foils, removing foils, paddling without foils?

Rescue scenarios

Have you thought about being rescued?

  1. Rescue call - VHF/PLB/phone to trigger rescue operation

  2. Being Found - harder than you’d think!

    1. Mirror establishes eye contact within 10km

    2. Whistle, reflective gear, flares for within a mile


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