As many of you guys know I build these things here in Florida and after 5 years of riding SUPs and building 100's of them. I have come to some conclusions. We are all getting better at surfing SUPs and in turn the shapes are getting refined in to actual surf friendly boards that are allowing for some prone surf style maneuvers and feel.
I have played extensively with size, outline shape, bottom contours, and rockers and have come to the conclusion that I want to surf. What I mean by this is we have so-so conditions here a lot of wind chop and multiple swell directions at the same time. Which makes it difficult to stay on top of a micro SUP. I seemingly spend more energy zapping time balancing on a short sub 8' SUP than actually riding waves on it. Unless the conditions are like say the pacific side long period swell well defined glassy conditions which seem to be common place out there. I would ride a micro SUP all the time if that were the case here in my back yard. But its not the case.
SUP surfing is starting to finally take off here and guys are getting better and going shorter on boards all the time. From all the boards I have made myself I ask is shorter in the micro range sub 7'10" really better?
Yeah they seemingly surf better but I find it difficult to say that they will take SUP to the next level. A refinement is taking place in SUP surf design. I have been refining the sizes and shapes I really like and enjoy the most, slowly turning them from a stock sports car into a proverbial fighter jet. Its working, much like how prone boards have undergone a 30 year period of refinement, SUP design is happening much faster than that. Those prone board design lessons are playing right into the SUP design with some wave ski and surf kayak design plays a role in SUP surf design. The differences are things can work in a SUP that do not work well on prone boards, like excessive Vee and extreme rockers flips and kicks.
Here are some of the things I have found are good to a point. Lighter is better until the offshore wind gets over 10nts then you get blown out a lot and spend more time trying to stay on the wave than actually surfing it. When I say light I have SUPs down in the 11lb range. I found 14-17lbs is ideal all around. You will find the same shape size SUP at 17lbs will have more glide and projection than the 14lb SUP but the lighter SUP will be easier to flick and throw around and feel looser.
Vee verses con caves, quad verses tri fin, hard rail edges verses soft rail edges, rocker variations, balanced foil and unbalanced foil and combinations of all this stuff. I use variations of all the design characteristics I mention above so are any one of these things perfect uh no, but all are necessary. In what order and placement just depends on your personal surf style. With all these variables is there any one perfect board? Apparently no that board has not been shaped yet, when I show up to the beach there are usually 2 or 3 boards on the car for any one given day. BUT there is a perfect board for a certain condition. So does this mean we all should have a quiver. No but those of us whom surfing is our life we will have a quiver and the search for that perfect board will never end.
In the end it all boils down to "The Most Fun" with that ask yourself what board is the most fun for me? And ride that one and have a blast... Find yourself a good shaper there are quite a few out there building AWESOME SUP's. From my experience I firmly believe that is the only way to dial your board in. It may take a few boards to get that perfect one but it will happen.
Peace and go surfing have a Fun time,