Wind and Weather Factors for Kite Boarding and SUP

Wind + Weather Tips

Pretty much the first question anybody asks when board riders hit the beach each morning is

“What are the winds doing today crew?”

The Windswell crew have put together a few hot tips for understanding wind and weather factors to help you pick the very best time to hit the water, whether for kite boarding or for SUP stand up paddle boarding.

One of the great things about  kite boarding and paddleboarding is that you can ride every day, no matter what the conditions. Starting out, with winds  just under 5 knots, you can fly a trainer kite  to practise  in the power zone with ease.   If  you can see movement in the palms and trees, you know there’s just enough wind to get out there, and gain experience with your kite.   Until you have gained adequate experience, it’s a good idea not to go out in conditions beyond your limits (say 20+ knots+ for grommets, and 30 + knots for the average adult)

In general, to ride your board and stay up wind, you will need to be able to park the kite, so anywhere between 15-30 knots is fine,  with 18-25 knot winds ideal for average riders.

Trade Winds

Right now we’re experiencing the winter weather pattern, with the  return of the SE trade winds.

These trade winds are created when the monsoon or wet season moves further North and the belt of high pressure systems move up and over the Great Australian Bight.  Once in position in the Bight, they generally develop a ridge along the Queensland coast bringing us in tropical north Queensland, our south easterly tradewinds through the winter season.

As a general rule, the stronger the pressure gradient( or high pressure system), the stronger the wind.

There is a  local rule you can use to tell what the wind will be doing in our area, based simply on looking at the weather report on the nightly news.

If there is a

  • 1015 high in the Bight, you can  expect 10-15 knots winds up here,
  • 1020 high … you can expect 15-20 knots and so on until you get a big high-
  • 1030 high…you can expect 25-30 knots winds

From now through to Christmas, we can expect to see a constant cycle of the formation of these high-pressure systems with associated southeastery tradewinds.

(translating as AWESOME wind and weather conditions for KITE and SUP in FNQ!!)

Land + Sea Breezes

With cooling temperatures overnight, and the creation of a land breeze, we can generally expect more offshore winds during the mornings anywhere along the coast.   Conditions will usually have a lot of southerly direction in the wind, with a quieter and more calm beach zone.

While the sun heats the land as the morning goes on,  the sea breeze kicks in and turns the wind around more to the east bringing it more onshore or onto the beach.   The reverse will usually happen in the late afternoon.

 Wind Direction

Any wind blowing in from the Ocean is a great start for boarders, as this  is usually nice and consistent and uninterrupted from the effect of geographical objects on the land.

Onshore winds are best for experienced riders, as you will need to know how to stay up wind on the boards to make the most out of your ride.

Cross-shore winds are  great for beginners/intermediates

An ideal combination of conditions is something like this scenario :

Onshore/cross-shore or 45 degrees to the beach making it easy to launch your kite and head straight off the beach

Fortunately for us, the southern end of Four Mile Beach in Port Douglas provides these optimal conditions (onshore/cross-shore)

This makes for an easy run out and back from shore and if you lose your board or have any equipment dramas you will end up back on the beach.

Offshore winds are the most dangerous direction to kite as there are unpredictable scenarios created by created by the wind effect of objects on land eg: mountains, buildings, headland, trees etc…. These objects cause rotors of gusty wind, nor do  you  want to end up out at the Outer Reef or Fiji 😉

 Wind Quality

The best days for Kiting are the super smooth wind days with no squalls, rain etc. (If you do see big black cloud rolling your way it is best to come in and land your kite and let it blow over).

  • Always check and know what the forecast conditions are for the day
  • Keep your eye to the south east or where the wind is coming from
  • Ask fellow kite surfers what they think the wind is doing, it is all part of our culture

Having said that, the wind waits for nobody, the best days kite surfing I’ve had have been when there has been no wind forecast and nobody else out on the water with me!

For a comprehensive guide to current wind and weather factors and expected weather conditions, check out our weather links here.

See you on the water!


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