Is it really worth upgrading my Stand Up Paddleboard to one that is longer?
Here at The SUP Company we get asked a huge range of questions which cover all things Stand Up Paddle boarding; from families looking for that first board, those looking to make the most of the surf at their local spot, or paddlers looking to go around a race course as fast as possible.
Whatever the outcome, you can guarantee somewhere along the line in choosing a board, a compromise has been made. It maybe as simple as choosing a board the whole family can enjoy which is wider and therefore more stable at the expense of a board which really response in the surf when you get to play those two or three times a year.
Either way, what ever you type of paddling you are looking to under take it makes sense to find a board which delivery for the largest percentage of your use. But what about as you progress and start to find your niche – what next?
By enlarge the greatest number of paddleboards sold fall under the category of an all rounder. And this is understandable as all rounder’s by their very nature represent the least compromise for the broadest range of paddlers. They are a ‘jack of all’ but in turn a ‘master of none’.
The vast majority of paddle boarding is done on flat or calm waters and involves covering some distance. As you paddle your all rounder more frequently, steadily over time, you start to find that the effort of every paddle stroke isn’t traded fairly for forward motion. You are putting ‘one hundred’ effort in and only getting ‘sixty’ back in terms of glide. Whether simply paddling to your favourite stop on your regular route or just wanting to be as efficient as possible; you are not alone in thinking this trade off is a little unfair.
And on the most part it is not down to poor technique, it boils down to one thing; board length or in other words the water line length of your paddleboard. Simply the longer the board, the more efficient the trade off, the nearer you get to realising that ‘one hundred’ you are putting in as forward motion.
So how long could you go? The quick answer is as long as you can. One foot of extra board length is worth between a 10 – 15% performance gain in terms of glide. So the longer you go the bigger the gains, they really are that noticeable.
Other factors though become an influence; such as the type of paddling you do and who will use the board as well as the outside factors of storage and budget.
If space is an issue then inflatable is the way to go. The principles of water line length still apply here and there are now a number of excellent inflatables across a range of price points. In the past, longer inflatables haven’t quite reached their full potential due to the difficulty in making such a long inflatable structure rigid over its entire length. However, advances in materials and manufacturing techniques as well as secondary systems of reinforcement have made huge differences. Stand our models worth considering are the Starboard Deluxe Touring boards with their double chambers and the Red Paddle Co Voyager range which includes the popular 13’2. It is also worth considering a wider race inflatable – race boards after all by their free nature are designed to be hugely efficient. Take a look at the Starboard Airline 14’0 x 28”, the Red Paddle Co 14’0 x 27” Elite and the excellent SIC Bullet 14 ft Air Glide FSTx2 – 2021 – all hugely rigid inflatable paddleboards that making covering distance easy.
The same applies to composite Touring boards from the well priced Starboard 12’6 Touring Lite Tech and the very purposeful Fanatic 12’6 Ray Pure. Then at 14ft long over the SIC Okeanos 14’0” x 28” and the
SIC Bullet 14 ft DF are pretty much unrivaled in the touring board class for its ease of use and versatility. As with inflatables, do not discount wider race boards such as the Starboard 14’0 x 28” All Star which is simply superb.
If you have been paddling a while or are considering getting into the sport, take time to have an honest conversation around your use and if you are looking at flat water, small chop while covering distance – give serious consideration to trying a stand up paddleboard longer than all rounders which fall roughly around 10’4 – 10’6, the gains are huge and your will wonder why you did not do it sooner.
To test the largest range of paddleboards in the UK make a booking at our Southampton Test Centre where you can try 50 different boards and 40 + paddles at our waterside shop. You can learn more here.