Downwindable | The New Downwind Planning Tool

Downwindable is the new downwind tool planner designed by Scottish based South African paddler Lizelle Kemp. Born out of the lockdown and the inability to get out paddling Lizelle created the app to record her personal tracks and soon others were contributing. Based on surfski downwinding the app can be used to record downwind SUP tracks too! In fact anyone who is downwinding can add their tracks to the site! We talk to Lizelle about her exciting new paddle app!

Credit: Stephen Lawson Photography

Hi Lizzelle what is your paddling background?

The majority of my paddling is on the North Sea and the Firth of Forth along the South East coast of Scotland. My paddle playground is 200 M from my door. I moved from traditional sea kayaking into surfski around 2014/15 was one of the best things I’ve done,¬† the bigger and wilder the conditions, the better, surfski paddling is such an adrenaline buzz.

I started racing surfski and flatwater kayak racing about six years ago. Surfski racing, in particular, has taken me to some fantastic locations and introduced me to the most amazing people. A few medals along the way, including gold at GB Surfski champs and flatwater national champs in 2018, this was a fantastic by-product of having a lot of fun while getting fit and fast.

I competed at the World Champs in France in 2019 for GB, which was pretty awesome too. Racing is a way to visit lots of new locations with a purpose and a wee holiday at the same time. Surfski is the only sport I know of where I can be at a significant international event and be standing on the start line beside the world champ. It’s such a joy sharing the buzz of the downwind or the race with everyone at the finish.

I love how the sea keeps egos in check. But in my opinion to genuinely enjoy a good downwind, we have to be fit, which means lots of distance and even more intervals. I love it all, EVERY paddle on the sea provides a new experience no matter how many times I’ve paddled the same stretch.

How did Downwindable develop?

We had Covid and multiple lockdowns to thank for the Downwindable website. An inability to car share during lockdown meant some of us got creative. We would drop skis at the start of a run, drive to the get out and cycle back to the beginning, do the downwind, then go and collect our bikes. A double work-out :-). Not knowing when international travel would be possible, the idea to start doing downwinds around the UK coast was born, and it developed from there, with the help of an easy to use website builder platform and social media pages to provide the basic structure.

The first tracks that were add were those I’ve personally done, it was quite a revelation going through my Strava and realising how many different countries I’ve visited to do downwind runs in. There are a few that aren’t recorded either before I started using a watch, and actually there’s a Garmin 310XT¬† at the bottom of a harbour on Skye. Not the first GPX or GoPro to end up at the bottom of the sea, I believe!

What are your most exotic tracks that have been added to the site?

Oooh, I think all the runs around Hawaii and Reunion look pretty amazing. I think the food will be out of this world there too. (I’m a bit food driven I’m afraid ;-)). On my bucket list is the the Mauritius racing week, but there aren’t any tracks on Downwindable yet, so maybe it’s an excuse to go and get them? Also on my list is Mozambique on the way to Reunion, which is right up there. The video footage looks phenomenal.

A bit closer to home, at the top of my list is Benzu to Almina Point in Spain which is located at the top of Africa. I’ve paddled the Gibraltar Straits on the opposite coastline, and the trade winds are pretty incredible.

How can we send our tracks to you?  and what countries are you missing?

Oh my goodness, TOO many to list here. There’s not one run in South America! By uploading runs to the site, you’re not just sharing a run but putting that location on the map and potentially supporting the local economy by attracting visitors to the area. Very popular runs might encourage SUP and Surfski hire and even Downwind taxis like Millers Taxi in South Africa.

Whats the future for downwindable?

At the moment, a lot of work is going into raising funds to rebuild the site with more functionality and to develop an app!

Interested in adding your tracks to downwindable?

Head over to the website here!

About the Author

Helen Trehoret

SUP, OC1, V6, Surfski ... and field hockey coaching, Helen is a busy British mother of two who lives in Bretagne, France with a passion for all things Ocean. Helen runs Barrachou SUP, a SUP tour company specialized in excursions around Bretagne and Scotland.

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