When it comes to standup paddling (SUP), I’ve pretty much exclusively paddled a downwind board for the past three years. I’ve never had the luxury of traveling to Hawaii or the Columbia River Gorge, yet rough water paddling and learning to harness the power of windswell, regardless of craft, represents to me the essence and joy of paddling. One of the things I learned from my experience is that the label “downwind board” is a bit of a misnomer. “Downwind boards” are best characterized as rough water SUPs that excel in downwind conditions. They are the SUVs of SUP and the new Infinity Downtown is the equivalent of a fully loaded Jeep Grand Cherokee. It is designed for adventure. It will go anywhere. It will do anything.
And yeah, the Infinity Downtown is so much fun to paddle in downwind conditions that the appeal of ever going back to an amusement park to experience the artificial thrill of riding a roller coaster is somewhere between zero and non existent.
What makes the Infinity Downtown so good?
Infinity shaped many of the first open water SUPs back during the sport’s initial growth spurt in the mid-2000s and has been steeped in the shaping industry since the mid-20th century. The new Downtown standup paddleboard was designed by Infinity Co-Owner Dave Boehne and is a product of that storied heritage packed up in 14’ of meticulously shaped foam and carbon fiber.
I had been paddling a 14’ x 27.25 SIC Bullet V2 with a traditional spoon shaped nose before transitioning to a 14’ x 25” Infinity Downtown in late August. The transition to the narrower board was seamless and I’m confident I made the right decision. Along with my skills progression, the Infinity Downtown incorporates a couple of design features which enable an intermediate standup paddler such as me to excel in increasingly more challenging conditions.
Full volume for pop and glide
Despite the narrower width, my new Downtown boast 281 liters compared to 269 liters in my old SIC Bullet V2. Readily apparent upon first glance, the angles and overall shape of the Infinity Downtown resemble a modern fighter jet. The full volume nose and progressive rocker line allows it to perform more like an OC-1 than other downwind SUPs I’ve paddled. The board is very responsive in rough water and quickly locks into even the smallest bumps and ripples.
My footwork is admittedly more functional than fluid at the moment and the Infinity Downtown’s nose design has enabled me to confidently broaden my range of padding conditions into increasingly rougher water. My favorite aspect of the nose design is the sharp angled peak that not only sheds water, but allows the nose to pop back to the surface on the times when I’ve pearled on steeper waves.
The increased nose volume also gives the board a nice amount of pop when paddling upwind. There aren’t any easy spots to do a start here, finish there style downwinder, ala Maui or Hood River, in the Los Angeles area. The prevailing wind direction and logistical challenges of living in the second largest city in the United States make doing so impractical. Consequently, I spend a lot of time paddling out and back from Redondo Beach. Paddling upwind on a SUP is never fun, but the Infinity Downtown makes it manageable.
The rails are nice and thick and shaped to give the board a good amount of secondary stability. The times I have fallen while paddling have been a direct consequence of fatigue and sloppy footwork, not the capabilities of the board. The diamond groove deck pad on the production model has a great amount of texture and Infinity’s large neoprene wrapped grab handle makes carrying the board super easy. The board is also super light, something my wife can attest to when she picked it up to move it one day!
The Infinity Downtown in action.
Dave Boehne spent an equal amount of time designing the Downtown’s fin, which is as revolutionary as the board itself. Many traditional downwind fins are on the small side and do not allow sufficient surface area to connect with the water. If you’ve ever experienced the tail of your board sliding out from beneath you in the rough stuff, this is a direct result of having too small of a fin. Third party fin manufacturers have compensated for the sliding by designing fins with large amounts of surface area which succeed in preventing tail slippage, but can have a detrimental effect on performance and speed.
To overcome these design shortfalls, Boehne went back to the drawing board and designed the 8” Angry Downwind Fin. The Angry Downwind fin blends a wide base with a narrow “main” section. The result? The Angry Downwind fin eliminates side to side slippage without compromising performance and speed. The fin is aggressive, enhances the board’s performance and brings elite paddling performance to non-elite paddlers. The Infinity Angry Downwind fin will also work well with other downwind SUPs if your not ready to make the switch to a new board.
Angry Downtown Fin
What types of paddlers are best suited for the Infinity Downtown?
Compared to many rough water / downwind boards, the Infinity Downtown is actually pleasurable to paddle in flat water. You don’t have the sensation of pushing water commonly associated with downwind boards and I expect you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easily the Downtown accelerates into a glide with even the smallest ripple. If you live on a lake where wind chop or boat wakes can be an issue, I’d give the Downtown a try as it may be the solution you are looking for.
I paddle primarily for fitness and do a couple regional races a year. With a few exceptions, I paddle exclusively in the ocean, typically in the late afternoon when the wind has come up. I enjoy paddling on the ocean in the rough stuff and benefit from having a board that can go anywhere and excel in downwind conditions when it’s time for me to turn around and head for home. With that in mind, if you’re a downwind paddling junkie, open water fitness paddler or just someone who likes to go out exploring on the ocean, I strongly recommend the Infinity Downtown.
Production models are available in widths of 24”, 25” and 27” or you can order up a custom model in any dimensions you desire. The 27” production model would make a great open water performance touring board for an experienced paddler or a phenomenal downwind board for anyone looking to get into downwinding.
The new Infinity Downtown is capable of elite level performance, but you don’t have to be an elite paddler to enjoy this SUP. If you’re fortunate to live somewhere with consistent downwind conditions, you should definitely give the Downtown a try. The SUP is nimble, responsive and sure to please. If you’ve been paddling a SUP with a traditional downwind shape, I highly recommend making the switch. The Infinity Downtown will allow you to unlock a new level a performance and I think you’ll be impressed with the results.