Hi again! Last month we talked about mainly different SUP paddles and about rigid and inflatable SUP boards. This month, I want to go through the various types of boards and shapes in more detail.
Choosing the right board can be tricky sometimes. There are so many different SUP boards on the market right now and depending on the conditions the boards can make your experience great or terrible. Let’s summarize different SUP boards:
SUP Wave boards
These as the name suggest are designed to surf on a wave. They are in general bigger size looking surf short board or long board shapes. Their length varies from 7-8 foot up to 9’5’’ foot (yes, we have foot and inches in the SUP world). In Mallorca and Mediterranean we usually have wind generated waves and swells therefore the surf boards we use have different shapes and volumes then the ones in Hawaii for example. If you want to learn surfing with a SUP board, my advice would be to start with a larger board, learn to catch small waves and gradually drop the size. Also note that the paddle for surfing should be shorter than the regular distance paddle. In general, SUP Wave boards are not recommended to start SUPing.
All-round SUP Boards
This is the largest segment of the SUP boards in the market. They are versatile, perfect for starting to SUP and can be good enough for many casual SUP riders. Their length varies from 9’5’’ up to 12 foot. Most of the all-round boards have the traditional surf board shape, I mean flat on the bottom and with a slight rocker. Some longer all-round boards also have the displacement nose shape like the race SUP boards or kayaks. All-round boards with traditional surf shape can be good enough to start learning surfing on small waves as well. The important factor while choosing an all-round board can be the volume and the width of the board depending on the size of the rider. If you are a new beginner there is no point to choose a too small or narrow board and make a circus show on the beach. If you are interested in paddling longer distances or in flatter waters such as lakes then a displacement nose type all-round board can be a good choice for you. There are also various specific use all-round boards on the market, such as yoga, fishing, SUP-windsurf hybrid boards and river SUPs. The river SUPs segment is growing rapidly last 2 years. The inflatable boards dominate the river SUP market because of their durability with impacts.
Many races still have an all-round class to welcome new riders to the racing world of SUP but when it comes to serious racing then there are 3 types of lengths we talk about. 12’6, 14 foot and unlimited boards (everything longer than 14 foot). Almost all of these race boards have a displacement nose shape except the long downwind boards (14 foot and longer) have more of a surfboard or a hybrid shape.
In Mediterranean and Europe we have mainly flat water and semi choppy water races and use 12’6 and 14 foot boards. These boards have different volumes and width for different size riders. Race boards are clearly faster than the all-round boards but are more expensive as well because of the material used. These boards are lighter and have mainly carbon fiber material. If you are interested in the fitness part of the sport and want to paddle in some local races or paddle longer distances then you can start paddling with a race board from the beginning. It is possible to find good deals in the second hand market of the race boards because many serious riders change their equipment every year. 14 foot is more suitable for heavier riders and latest developments in the racing scene in Europe make this size more popular in bigger races. But a cheaper 12’6 race board can be a great starting point for touring or racing.
There are inflatable and rigid board versions in all these classes above. But the inflatable boards are a clear competitor in the all-round class only at this stage. For wave surfing and racing I would still recommend the rigid boards. Having said that, the inflatable boards are making some real progress in the flat-semi choppy water race front.
If you have any questions about SUP surfing or real estate in Mallorca (which is my real job), you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Information about SUP events in Mallorca can be found on our Club de SUP Mallorca Facebook page, www.facebook.com/groups/clubsupmallorca.