You’re probably asking yourself, so what’s with the weird looking board in the picture? well this is a little, or should I say rather large project I have been playing around with this winter. So how did I come to be playing around with these weird looking boards? Well I noted last summer that when I took customers for SUP trial sessions prior to purchase the same questions were arising repeatedly. these questions were, “am I going to be able to get the board on the roof racks of my car by myself?” “Is it going to be too heavy for me to carry?” and “do you think I’d be able to get away with having the smallest one and would that still work as a family SUP?” See the problem here is that everyone wants to jump on board and get into SUP, but everybody is also looking for ease of use and some Sups are so damn big they can be a real hassle especially for ladies of smaller stature.
Now there has been a couple of answers to this problem and the first is to purchase a small surf SUP. To a beginner this may sound like quite a rational solution, but to be honest there are quite a few problems associated with this. Firstly, as the name suggests, these boards are designed specifically for the surf and most of these boards are nowhere near as good to paddle on flat water as the larger all-rounders. This is due to the lack of volume in these boards (the shorter length + the lack of thickness + the lack of width). The lack of volume can also be a major negative factor on the boards performance as a family SUP. Secondly, most surf SUPs tend to have a bit more rocker for wave riding than all-rounders (rocker is the curve of the board from nose to tail). this has a massive negative effect on the flat-water paddling performance of the SUP as the large upward curve in the nose of the board tends to plough through the water rather than glide like the flatter all-rounders. Now the other option is to buy an inflatable SUP. This is fine if you like paddling around on a large air mattress, but the ride cannot be compared to a nice glass board. And then what happens when the kids are having fun down at the beach with their friends and are running the inflatable over all the rocks that are encrusted with sharp Oysters?
So, what I have been trying to do with this new interesting shape is to design quite a short board that tracks nice and straight but still has enough volume to accommodate the whole family. I focused on designing a board specifically for the flat-water paddler of smaller stature who needs to be able to get the board on and off the roof racks of a car. I also took into consideration that lugging a board onto the roof racks can be a bit of a pain so if the board is small enough it can be transported in the back of a ute or even in a station wagon or larger hatch back. It’s quite easy to bulk up the volume of a short board as to make it substantially buoyant and stable but it is another thing to design a short board that tracks as straight and glides as well as the longer cruising style all-rounders. These two functions are essential if you want a SUP that is comfortable and enjoyable for reasonably long paddles.
Anyway, I took this SUP for a long paddle yesterday and here are the results. This board is 8 feet 6 inches long, so it is quite short. The board is still a little heavy to carry but this could be rectified by changing to carbon fibre construction. This board is extremely buoyant. I weigh 90kg and the board could have easily handled a bit more weight than that. This board takes a little bit of getting used to as it I so very different but once you get your head around it, it feels quite nice. I even wandered out to the bar and caught quite a few little waves, and this is where I was extremely impressed. Although this board was not specifically designed for the surf environment it certainly stood up and was very impressive. It is extremely easy to paddle onto waves and surprisingly lose in the turns! I had an absolute ball in the small bumpy conditions. As I paddled back to the car this board had my head in a spin. I feel like I need to keep riding this strange piece of Supping equipment to work out all its secrets. As far as the tracking goes, no it is not perfect but for a board of this length it works OK.