With every new SUP I build, test ride I learn more and more. I have always had a open mind about surfing equipment and a desire to try new things, old things weird boards what ever. Well Here is a update on info I have learned through trial and error. Shapes as far as they go I have tried out some 50+ stand ups from as many manufacturers and have come to some conclusions. I would like to share them.
First I like my paddle shaft long 11" over my head. Turns out the 5ft 6inch guys telling me to cut my paddle down to 6" over my head did not take into account that with my arms stretched out finger tip to finger tip is 6' 11". I have freakishly long arms and short paddles are not comfortable to me and really make my tennis elbow and shoulders hurt. I also find 2 paddle blade sizes are a good idea. I use a Powerex (which is a huge blade) and a Werner nitro (which is a narrow blade). When I get fatigued or have sore arms,shoulders and back, the narrow paddle allows for less strain on the joints and sore muscles and makes for a quicker stroke. Feel free to add any info to what I am saying...
Board shapes: Now that I have a couple of years on the SUPs and have my balance down and surf probably better than ever before in my life I find my self getting particular in the designs I enjoy riding the most. I am a surfer and everything I am talking about is geared towards surfing the SUP. I like foil and a thinner rail, my board thicknesses reflect a thin rail and foil as they will be thicker in the center and thin nose to tail and a domed deck. Some like a flat deck and thick rail but here we have wind chop a lot and the thinner noncorky rail handles chop beautifully. As it is not effected by every little bump in the water it cuts it mostly because the float is not on the rail but in the center. Its funny after riding foiled thin railed boards for a while now when I try out someones thick railed board I really notice the cork on the rail wanting to throw me in the water. The surf ability of the thinner rail, foiled progressive shape is far superior than that of a fat plank pop out SUP.
Sups are not big prone surfboards they are SUPs a whole different animal. Where some design concepts do not work well on a prone surfboard they work unreal on a SUP. Guys look at my boards on the beach and say holy cow look at the Vee in the tail and the extra 2" of rocker in the last 10" of the tail. Yep things like this do not work well on a prone surfboard but with the planing width of the SUP they work incredibly well and allow maneuvers never before possible on a large surfboard.
Photo: Some boards...
Fin Set Ups: I have been leaning towards the quad, its working well for me even nose rides well and allows me to do reverses, hard turns and real carves and off the lips and stuff and they drive like a freight train down the line. Although a 2+1 with a 7" cutaway on my all around 10'er works well but does not drive like the quad off the fins I drive it off the rail. I spent some time on my wife's new 9'6" in some good surf this week and although I do not like the thicker rail the boards turns and drives unreal. I found that with the power the paddle gives us on our maneuvers you can ride larger fins in the quad. I use the MR twin fin front with smaller canard rear fins. I have tried smaller fins and they seem to lack drive and are a little squirrely for me. But a smaller person would probably like the smaller quad fins.
Photo: Foil shots, Fin set ups (Top to Bottom 10'er 2+1, 8'6" quad, 9'6" quad)
Deck Pads: Yeah buddy pads make a huge difference in surfing the SUP. I personally like the OAM pad with a arch bar and kick tail. I have added a arch bar to the FCS pad in the center board below and notice I leave a small gap in the forward section of the pad. This allows for a quick site of where the center line of the board is. I am currently working with Xtrak developing my own pad design which will incorporate a arch bar and high kick tail and a arch bar under the front foot as well. I find my rear foot right up against the kick on hard carving turns. It really helps you put more pressure on the board on a turn and keeps control as well as lets you know where you are on the deck. When I feel the arch bar under my foot I know where I am. Flat pads or smooth pads are good for nose rider style boards but for a more aggressive surfing style you will may slip and I have to look down to see where my feet are on the deck.
Photo: (Deck pads Center board FCS pad with added arch bar)
Photo: more deck pads (left board smooth pad nose rider, right board OAM pad with kick and arch bar)
I have tried quite a few pads as well as boards I ride as many as I can to see the difference and this little report is barely scratching the surface of SUP surfing and I hope all you guys and gals add in your comments to what was said here. The sport is growing and progressing beyond just cruising straight down the line. SUPs are going places on waves no big prone board has ever been and made it out of. I am excited to see where we will be in a year or 2.
Peace and good waves to all,