Dimitris Komninos is something of a quiet force in the world of downwind SUP. While he simultaneously runs his very own online stand up paddle publication, www.supzone.gr, the elusive Greek SUP rider is no less than a downwind obsessive, and for the past few years he has been regaling many of us in the SUP community with consistently impressive footage of his regular outings over the swell and bumps in various locations across his sun-kissed homeland. The ideal downwind conditions Komninos showcases in his vids are enough to make the choppy waters off the stunning Greek coastline and its many dreamlike islands look like Hawaii on a good day. And this led us to ask ourselves, what more can Dimitris tell us about the downwind landscape and the wider SUP scene in Greece? We spoke with him to find out!
Dimitris Komninos, we know you for your amazing downwind vids. Can you tell us a little about yourself? When did you first take up SUP and how long have you been doing it?
Well, first of all, I am very excited to share my passion with you guys and with TotalSUP’s readership, so thanks very much for granting me this interview. A bit about me, well, I’m 39 years old and I live with my family in Athens, Greece.
I first got into stand up paddle back in 2010, and right from the beginning, I remember how impressed I was just watching a video of Jeremy Riggs downwinding on the Maliko run. It really caught my attention. He was constantly taking on some great bumps with his board, and almost immediately, I fell in love with downwinding.
Given that there is a lot of wind in Greece, I bought a bigger board and started practicing downwind paddling as often as I could. I am actually really grateful to Jeremy Riggs for his downwinding footage and all of the advice he gave through this medium, as it really helped me hone my own downwind technique.
What have been your favourite stand-out downwind moments?
I have spent countless hours downwinding in all kinds of conditions. From light winds to gale forces, downwinding gives me so much pleasure every time I do it. But there are two instances in particular that always stand out for me.
The first one is when I did a 40-knot run around Evia island by myself. At that point, I had already done a lot of 30-knot runs, but never 40 or over. The sea was white from the spray and I was thinking that if something had gone wrong I would have been in serious trouble. I always carry a phone with me and my family knew the course, so I took the chance and I did the run. It was amazing. One of the best downwind paddling sessions of my life and I am really glad that I shot a video to share these moments with fellow paddlers.
The second one was in the last days of 2016 when, along with a group of friends, we did another cracker of a downwinder in 0 degree temperature. The sea was so wild and the conditions made it exhilarating. The heavy atmosphere made the whole thing so intense. It was quite a thrill and it is an experience I will cherish for life. I hope for more days like these to come.
Do you ever participate in competitive SUP events or are you solely focused on downwind?
I was quite involved in SUP racing for several years and I had a lot of fun training and competing. Things have changed over these last 2 years however. Unfortunately, I was injured a few times and that prevented me from investing in serious training so I stopped competing.
But I still continued to downwind and I continue to do so to this day, obviously. That has really developed into my primary SUP activity and passion. Every time the wind blows I am out there catching bumps and always trying to improve my technique by surfing more and paddling less. And this is when the magic happens!
I always use planning hull boards for my downwind runs and I have been on a Jimmy Lewis Rail 14×26 for the last year, which I really love. I also like Ripcurl products and I am very happy with the quality and the comfort they provide. Feeling comfortable when downwinding is very important.
Do you always film your downwind videos in the same location in Greece?
Here in Greece, we are very lucky to have countless runs. From the many islands to the shores of the mainland, we have the opportunity to downwind in so many places. The Meltemi winds blow across the Aegean sea and they create prime downwind conditions on the islands off Greece’s east coast in particular.
Most of my videos have been shot in Athens and on the island of Evia. Ι have a beach house there on this island, and it’s where I have filmed many of my videos. I usually visit in the summer time, when the Meltemi blow more or less constantly and this allows for some amazing bumps and a fine swell to take advantage of.
I enjoy downwinding in Athens near my house with my friends but I also like exploring new runs, whenever I get the chance. The East coast of Athens is a wonderful place for downwinding, especially when the wind blows from the north, which is a constant pretty much all year long.
Artemida Bay is perhaps our most popular spot overall. Τhe run is very safe, even if the wind blows very hard, with nice bumps and there’s some lovely scenery to admire as you breeze past.
How developed is SUP in Greece? Are there a lot of SUP riders there?
In Greece, the SUP scene is growing year after year, and I see this as something very positive for the discipline. This year we also had our very first national team at the ISA World SUP Championship in Denmark, and I personally think our riders did great.
On my side, I’m always noticing new people getting into downwinding and this is something that makes me really happy. Everyone who loves SUP knows we are here to support the sport and help it grow. I myself run my own website, www.supzone.gr, and we try to keep Greek paddlers up to date with news about the local scene, SUP events and all kinds of other articles aimed at enthusiastic paddlers.
Have you travelled much with SUP? If you could practice stand up paddle in one dream location, where would it be?
I have visited a lot of places in Greece on my stand up paddle board but I have not been on SUP-related trips to other countries, though I would love to of course. I’d really like to visit Maui and do the Maliko run.
Paddling in the place where downwinding originates must be an amazing experience and I really hope that one day this dream becomes a reality.
Do you practice any other watersports and does this help you train?
Well, I’m a real downwind fanatic, as you know, so I mainly focus on that and I don’t practise too many additional watersports. I do some skimboarding with my little boys and it’s great fun.
But apart from that, I love to dabble in some casual SUP surfing and I try to be on the water every time the swell hits our shores. When there is no wind, I practice on flatwater and I work on my technique. I do a lot of mobility and strengthening work to prevent injuries and be ready for the next downwind session. That’s always my goal!
Photo credits: Dimitris Komninos