Several paddlers feel they are slower on a paddle board when they find that they are not reaching even their average speeds. Trying to sustain your balance on a paddle board on moving water with average speed is an achievement altogether. If you can do so in a straight line, it’s a bonus. The majority of the paddlers consider 3.5 miles to 4.5 miles per hour to be a relaxing speed. For beginners, it is best to start slow. Recreational paddlers can go a little relaxed while racers will go pacing at speed. So, what is the average speed of a paddle board? With the appropriate racing techniques and paddling, 5 miles to 7 miles per hour is the average racing speed. But, several factors guide the average speed of a paddle board.

What is the average speed of a paddle board?

An average speed on a regular and comfortable paddle board is around 3 to 4 knots. 3 to 4 knots implies a speed of 3.5 miles to 4.5 miles per hour. The majority of wave-directed boards are slow while special race paddle boards are 8 knots quicker. Wind plays a crucial role in the speed of a paddle board. 5 miles per hour to 7 miles per hour are the average racing speeds.

Some good examples of maintaining lower speeds and still win the race are Danny Ching racing 200 m race at 9.34 mph speed below a minute and Connor Baxter speeding the same 200 m race with 8.5 mph speed. So, this demonstrates the fact that racers can smash the average speed of 4 mph, if seasoned appropriately.

The factors that guide the speed of a paddle board are:

Speed of the wind- Wind speed is primary and makes a difference in paddling. It can vary between 15 mph humming or over and heading backward. When wind blows against you, it is also against the paddling direction. In this case, the paddler becomes the sail combating against the wind direction. Paddling during these times is great though challenging. With a strong tailwind, you do not need to paddle.

Water conditions

Calm waters enable you to paddle fast. However, when talking about total paddling speed, big waves behind you would be helpful. Another factor is water debris that can impact your paddling like algae mats, stumps, or floating logs. The loss of depth will slow down the paddle quite rapidly. At low tide, slow paddling is good.

Water current

Water current hinders or boosts your paddling progress. A tidal change can whip through an inlet. It could be a windblown current or a fast-moving river given in the far-out sea. Current impacts your paddling speed. Fighting it is tough as it only slows you down.

Your fitness levels

Your core strength and upper body strength will drive your paddling movement in the water. If you are not fit enough, it can get tiring and tough to go fast. Paddling will make you faster and stronger. Powerful legs for longer standing times and arm strength for repetitive paddling are essential for the handling of the board.

The distance of travel

Average time of traveling distances vary. The rate of speed depends on the traveling distance.

Type of Paddle board used

Hardshell versus Inflatable paddle board and Surfing versus racing versus touring paddle board, which of these are you using defines the average speed of a paddle board.

Hardshell versus Inflatable paddle boards

Traditional hardshell paddle boards are outperformed and they are always preferred once with downwind when compared to inflatable paddle boards. While inflatables are lighter and easy to carry. This, however, doesn’t make them fast. Epoxy paddle boards track straight, are less impacted by wind, and glided far each stroke as compared to inflatables. When compared to the two, a traditional board is a better choice while inflatable ones score a little edge in a downwind breeze. Epoxy boards are considered the speediest with a rate of speed of 6% more as compared to the inflatable ones. You can reach a paddle speed of 3.96 mph at a casual pace to 5.21 mph average speeds on an epoxy board while 3.78 mph for casual to 4.88 mph average speeds on an inflatable paddle board.

Surfing versus racing versus touring paddle board

Of the three, racing paddle boards are faster as it is longer and thinner. It is created for speed. Surfing boards are short and provide optimum maneuverability. They do not track straight as racing boards or glide as smooth as a racer board though. Touring boards have a lot more floatation and are wider. They are created for stability and not for speed primarily. However, it is fast for all-round boarding.


Some experience in paddling will enhance your paddling speed. As beginners, paddlers go below 3mph and that is fine. But, with practice, you tend to gain average speed and above gradually. This experience helps in going faster.


Your skill level enhances your paddling speed a great deal. This can be attained with practice and skills.

Size of the board

The size should be appropriate to your weight and height. When you weigh more, a smaller board can pace quickly. An oversized board for a tiny person can slow down the speed.

How can average and faster speed be attained with a paddle board? 

Follow the tips below to attain a fast speed:

  • Head on a calm day.
  • Use a thinner paddle board.
  • When you start, focus on breathing and get into a fluid rhythm of paddle strokes and gain consistent momentum to efficiently paddle.
  • Remain focused and mindful.


A paddle board paces as fast as you paddle. Some factors influence the speed of a paddle board like wind speed, climate, water current, board type, the board size, material, etc. So, if you ask what is the average speed of a paddle board? The answer varies. For recreational paddle boarders, it is about 4 mph to 5 mph, for beginners it is 3.5 mph to 4.5 mph, for racers it is 7 mph to 9 mph while for advanced racers it could go maximum to 18 mph. However, with practice and appropriate paddling techniques, the speed can be picked up.