Stand Up Boards and Paddles

As the sport continues to develop and grow, so do the number of boards, paddles and accessories to compliment the various disciplines of SUP’ing.  This will help you figure out which type of board and paddle you’ll want to put on your roof rack and ultimately, get the most out of your purchase.  Until you expand your quiver of boards, you’ll want to get a board that you can use for the types of paddling you plan to do (or have access to do) – A board that satisfies 85% or more of where you’ll be using it.

Most SUP boards can be surfed – But if you don’t plan on surfing, then you can look at a number of boards more specifically designed for flatwater cruising and downwinders on lakes, rivers and the ocean.  They typically have less ‘rocker’ on the nose and tail allowing them to track (glide) better on flatter types of water.

Two types of shapes – Which one is best for you?

Planing Hull(Surfboard style shape) – The owe their shapes and design to the modern surf longboard with added volume, length, width and thickness.  They are very versitile and good for all types of paddling including surfing, flatwater cruising and river running.  Their advantage comes when the board reaches higher speeds and ‘planes’ across the water, maximizing performance – Something easier to achieve while surfing rather than just flatwater paddling.  They come in a wide variety of sizes, many geared to the first-time user and are offered in a growing range of constructions.  If you are looking for something faster and more efficient for flatwater cruising, racing our touring, then you should look for a ‘Displacement Hull’ board to get the most out of your efforts.

Displacement Hull (Thicker, pointed nose) – Displacement hull SUP’s share their design with outriggers,  canoes and prone paddleboards. The nose of the board cuts through the water forcing the water around the nose,  around the sides rather than riding on top of the water like the Planing Hull. They are more efficient for flatwater touring and racing allowing the paddler to get up to, and maintain faster speeds consistently.  Most brands now offer an 11’6 length (fast and easier to carry than 12’6 and up), 12’6″, 14″ and longer.  The most common length is 12’6″ which can be used in the 12’6 & Under stock class for racing as well.

Is longer faster? – Almost always but with the length comes portability and storage challenges.

General Types of Stand-Up Paddle Boarding: (see more detail on this page)
Surfing – Ocean, lakes, behind boats and freighters
Flatwater Cruising – Racing, Cruising, Leisuring (nice word eh?), fitness training, exercise on lakes, rivers, or any body of water that has relatively calm conditions.  Rogue All-Rounder, Naish Nalu, Starboard Blend/Big Easy, Ron House, PauHana Crossfit 12’6″
Whitewater – Moving current, rapids and whitewater on rivers, creeks, and standing waves
Downwinders – Oceans swells or on lakes and rivers with the wind at your back.
Whitewater/River Rapids – Badfish MCIT, Naish Nalu Air, Boardworks SHUBU, Surftech B1-Bomber
Racing or Going Fast on Flatwater – The classes are primarily 12’6 & Under, 14′ & Under, and Unlimited.  In the first few years as the sport develops by region, the 12’6 racing class will be the most popular.  Though scientific research is still catching up, using the maximum size of board will provide you with the most glide and go faster. Try the Naish Javelin 14’/12’6″, Bark Competitor 12’6 / 14′, Rogue 12’6 Outlaw, Starboard Ace Pro, Lakeshore Stealth 12’6, 404 Monster 12’6
Fitness/Cross Training – Lakeshore Wet Woody 11’6, Rogue Drifter 12’6, 11’4, Tahoe Bliss/Zephyr 12’6/14′   Starboard Pierce Touring 12’6, Tahoe
Long Distance – Ready for a journey?  Pack it up and paddle long distances, even overnight.  Bark Dominator 14′, Starboard Pierce Touring 14′, Bark Expedition 14′,  Naish Glide 14′
Going  Surfing? –  If yes, go for a board that can be surfed on easily.  In most cases, longer will be easier to stand on – Naish Nalu 11’4/11’6, Surftech Laird, Surftech Infinity Kuku Hoe, Starboard Blend/Whopper, Naish Hokua

Here’s a peek at various boards on the market – Ask your local dealer to find out the right one for you.

What makes one board more buoyant than another? About ‘Volume’ and ‘Rail thickness’

Longer boards with thicker rails have more ‘volume’ which will help you feel more stable and balanced.   Boards like the Randy French Surftech Universal and Rogue Tesoro ‘Grande’  are among the most stable boards on the market.  The boards will generally be heavier so take that into consideration.  As a general rule, if you weigh more than 180 lbs, pick a board that has a volume rating of 180 Liters or more.  See the comparison below to get an idea of the difference in thickness compared to a standard longboard. Rail-Comparison