Getting it right first time will save you hundreds of dollars and put the biggest big smile on your face. It is a crowded and confusing market and we have tried and tested just about every brand out there and distilled it down to the best boards we can lay our hands on.
You cannot buy the right board without answering some simple questions, honestly –
Some basic body specs and skill levels will help narrow down the right board dimensions for you. Where and how you want to use your board will determine the both the length and style of board. Where you want to go in the sport will also determine the size, style of board and how much to spend.
It is best to have a face to face conversation but the old phone will do – call 02 9905 8826 now if you want or have a chat during business hours.
This is the best way for us to get sense of who you are, what you want to get out of SUP and where you want to go with it.
We have been in game for 30 years now, first as Balmoral Sailboards. Then as Balmoral Boards (Snow, Skate. Kite and Wake) and now as Balmoral Paddlesurf. We like to think that we have stayed the course with one main goal – putting a smile on your face. Happy customers generate happy customers. It is that simple.
The basic rule is, the heavier the rider, the more board volume and width you will need for a stable ride. However, extra width isn’t always better as a wider board typically has less glide and can be more difficult to paddle properly for a smaller rider. Also, more volume than you need will mean you’re carrying around extra size/weight.
If you are looking for one board for a family or group of freinds you will need to cater to the largest paddler. Smaller people can always use a bigger board, but bigger riders won’t be successful on a board that is too small.
A NOTE ON VOLUME: Do not rely too heavily on the volume measurement of the board. Two boards of the same volume can have completely different handling and stability. The shape and design have the biggest influence on performance and stability. Talk to us about what are the important design factors for you.
TYPES OF STAND UP PADDLE BOARDS
Length: the lengths given are the most popular sizes of that the style of board.
There are four general categories of Stand Up Paddle Boards. These categories are based on the type of activities the board will be used for; Surfing, All-Around, Touring/Racing and Inflatables. Inflatables cover all categories as all styles of boards are available as an inflatable.
1) SURFING OR PERFORMANCE WAVE SUP SURF BOARDS: Surf-Specific SUP boards are generally shorter, have a narrower nose and tail and more rocker (bottom curve). These features make the board much more maneuverable on a wave. The trade-off is that they are slower to paddle and do not track in a straight line on flatwater and are often less stable. SUP SURFING BOARDS are generally 8′-9’6 in length for performance surfing. 9’6 – 10’6 for Longboards style surfing. LONGBOARD STYLE SURF SUPS make great all round boards because they paddle nicely (long and straight) as well as offering surf performance.
2) ALL ROUND SUP BOARDS: All-Around boards are designed to perform well in all conditions. These versatile, multi-purpose boards are great first time boards because they allow you to explore all facets of the sport with only one board. All round boards are wide enough to be very stable, have decent glide and tracking for flatwater paddling or ocean touring. They also have enough rocker and sidecut for decent surf performance.
For this reason, ALL ROUND SUP BOARDS are the most popular style of board due to their versatility. Some All-rounders lean more towards catching and riding waves (more rocker), others have more glide and less manoeuvrability and are better for touring. Which is why “Where you want to go in the sport?” is a very important question.
TALK TO US ABOUT THE BEST ALLROUND SUP board to suit your needs. Getting it right the first time will save you hours of frustration and your hard earned money.
3) Racing and Touring SUP boards: Touring boards are optimized for flatwater, open ocean paddling and ‘downwinders’ (going from point A to B with the wind at your back). They are typically longer than all round boards for more speed, and often have a nose area that is pointed and shaped like a “vee” on the bottom to help the board slice through the water smoothly. Most touring boards are wide enough to be stable for beginners, however “race” boards are built for speed so they are narrower and less stable.
4) INFLATABLE SUP BOARTDS: Which is better, HARD or INFLATABLE SUP boards? The answer really depends on what you want to use the board for. If you have space issues or would like to pack your board away (in a bag the size of a rucksack) for example on a boat or over winter, then an inflatable SUP board, could be the answer. There is however a performance trade off with inflatables.
The PRO’s and CON’s of Inflatable SUP’s
At the end of the day, if the ‘fun factor’ is high on your list and performance is secondary, the Inflatable SUP will do the job admirably!
Windsurfing on SUP boards: Most brands now offer an option on some all-around boards where you can attach a mast, rig and boom. A mast foot fitting is included on the board on the deck so that a windsurf sailing rig can be mounted, making these boards exceptionally versatile. Generally they do not have a centreboard so they do not sail up-wind that well. best suited for family fun in light winds only.
Not all boards are created equal. The materials that go into making a Stand Up Paddle Board have the single biggest effect on the price of the board. It is impossible to see the quality from the outside so the same rules apply as buying a second hand car. Do your research and buy from someone you trust. We have been around for 30 years and making sure you are stoked on your gear is what it is all about for us.
WEIGHT. Lighter boards cost more to make. Lighter SUP boards are more responsive, easier to handle and paddle. As a rule of thumb 1.2kg per foot of length is a good starting weight: 10’6 – 12.5kg.
Get a reputable, quality, brand-name SUP board and you will get to-notch construction and better re-sale.
Just like you want a good pair of hiking boots to climb a mountain, a suitable SUP paddle will make your time on the water the more enjoyable.
The best stand up paddle will be light enough for you to use all day and strong enough to handle any conditions you get into. It should be comfortable, with the right grip and length for you to enjoy your time on the water. So let’s look at what makes a great paddle.
There are many different materials or composites that have been used to make paddles over the years, but Carbon is King!
Fibreglass: Is great for entry level paddles. Fibreglass is stiff, light, and provides a good balance between value and performance.
Wood: Wood paddles are beautiful to look at, and make a great present to an enthusiast but they lack the performance and durability of composite paddles.
Carbon Fiber:Carbon fiber is the lightest and strongest material used in paddles. A lightweight paddle will cause less arm fatigue, especially on longer paddles. If you spend a large amount of time on the water, the weight savings of a carbon fiber paddle is well be worth the extra expense.
Aluminium: Aluminium is inexpensive and used on budget paddles. The drawback is that they are heavier and can bend easily.
Plastic: Another economical material. It is affordable but heavier and often less durable than other materials
The most crucial part of choosing a paddle is getting the right length. A paddle that is too long will tire your arms as you hold them up too high. A paddle that is too short will stress your back as you bend forward to reach the water.
Paddle length greatly depends on the type of paddling you intend to do. Generally speaking, your paddle should be 9-10″. taller than you are for racing, 7-9″. taller than you for cruising on flat water, or 0-6″. taller than you for surfing.
Adjustable paddles have a shaft that can extend and lock in different lengths. If more than one person is going to use the paddle, then an adjustable shaft will suit you well. Adjustable paddles are perfect for families, lake houses, and demo fleets. Adjustable SUP paddles will be marginally heavier than the non-adjustable paddles.
The best paddle is one made to fit you. A custom-length paddle is produced longer than you need and then cut in-store and the grip glued into place. Our staff have been trained to fit the paddle for your height and then cut to the right size.
Paddles are divided into two main groups, paddles for surf and paddles for cruising/touring. A surf paddle has a larger surface area for extra leverage against the water. Surf paddles are great for bracing and can also be used for white water SUP and SUP racing. A cruising SUP paddle has a smaller surface area which puts less stress on the arms while paddling long distances. There are also mid-sized paddles which fit the widest range of paddlers and work well for both surfing and touring.
The most common grip for the top handle is the palm shape. When paddlers enter surf and white water they prefer a T-shaped grip that your fingers can wrap around so there is less risk of losing it in rough water. Some paddlers prefer a ball-shaped grip, but ultimately the grip shape you choose is just that— personal preference.
The bend just above the blade allows for a more efficient stroke. It may seem counter-intuitive, but the blade points towards the front of the SUP. This maximises the stoke in front of your body and allows the blade to slip up out of the water at the end of the stroke as opposed to lifting water.
Remember that for general stand up paddling, you should choose a paddle that is between 6-10 inches taller than you are. At Balmoral Paddlesurf we have committed to only stocking high quality paddles that can be relied on to never leave you up the proverbial creek. Consider the best paddle you can afford; it may be expensive now, but it will put a smile on your face with every stroke you take on the water.
A race or touring paddleboard can be just about the hardest piece of sporting equipement to buy. There are so many variables in the design that influence the way the paddleboard will move through the water and there are so many different shapers and board models to choose from. What kind of tail do you want? What kind of rails do you want? Fin set-up, rocker, bottom contours, thickness, width, etc… It can be very confusing. It is our hope that this guide will help you choose the correct board. No SUP design will ever work in every condition for every paddler, but choose correctly and you will find a good board that will let you preform at your best in a variety of conditions.
Boards don’t go fast, people do. Mike Eaton once pointed out that it was the engine not the vessel that moved a board through the water, so before you decide on a design you need to be honest with yourself about what will best suit you.
ABILITY LEVEL: How good a paddler are you? Is your focus to compete, to win or just to finish? Picking the equipement that properly fits where you are and where you want to go is key to continued development in paddling.
SIZE AND WEIGHT: Bigger heavier paddlers need a standup paddleboard with more volume and buoyancy. Smaller paddlers will benefit from less volume and find a smaller board more comfortable and easier to control.
USE: Are you looking for a board to paddle the local waters, thinking long distance or thinking Molokai? Perhaps you are trying to compete in the Battle of the Paddle. Your choice of board will strongly effect your performance.
STORAGE: What can you comfortably accommodate in your home? What will fit on your car? How big of a board can you handle out of the water? Even a well used board will spend 90% of its time out of the water. Being able to care for, properly store, transport and maneuver your board on dry land can make a huge difference in how excited you are to use your equipment.
#2 PADDLEBOARD DESIGN
You can tell a lot about a board by the way it looks. The most successful shapes are usually a blend of all the design concepts mentioned below.
TEMPLATE: The general shape of the standup paddleboard if you look at it from the top. Generally longer straighter outlines are more conducive to speed and track a bit straighter. Rounder, curvier designs are a bit slower in a straight line, but more nimble in the bump and much more maneuverable, especially in and out of the surf-line.
LENGTH: The size of the board from nose to tail. Typically a longer board is faster, but less maneuverable. Longer boards have better glide and make it easier to cover long distances. Shorter boards may be slower in a straight line, but the additional maneuverability and lighter weight can make it easier to handle in surf or buoy races where turning and starting and stoping can be an issue. In addition a shorter board may be more desirable for a beginner because it is typically lighter, easier to store and transport and can be a bit easier on the arms.
WIDTH: The size of the paddleboard when measured at the widest point from side to side. Typically wider boards are more buoyant, stable, better in junky conditions and ideal for beginners. Narrower boards are faster, but less stable and forgiving in rough water.
The position of the wide point must also be taken into consideration. SUP boards with the wide point forward of the mid point will typically be faster, but less maneuverable. Conversely, boards with the wide point further back will be more maneuverable, but slower down the line.
NOTE: Bottom contours, footwells and rail design can dramatically effect the stability and performance of a board. Wide boards are not always stable and narrow boards are not always tippy.
NOSE (ENTRY): Noses can be round or pointed, deep or shallow. Narrow deep noses tend to cut through the water and pull water along the boards waterline more efficiently. However, they tend to track and make the board less responsive and maneuverable in rough conditions. Wider noses are slower and tend to push water, but help create lift and keep a board responsive.
TAIL (EXIT/RELEASE): A square tail will be more stable and maneuverable. The wider the tail the more lift a board will have towards the end of the stroke. This makes wide tails very desirable for buoy races and situations where surfing is important. A narrower pin tail will typically offer cleaner release, track better and run more smoothly through the water.
RAILS: Rounder rails tend to be less stable and faster through the water. Square rails are more stable.
DECK: The point of contact between the paddler and his/her craft – the deck of the board can play a larger roll in the paddling experience than one might expect. Many touring/racing boards have a foot well or individual foot wells. A good general rule of thumb is that a lower standing position relative to the water line provides more stability at the cost of leverage, so it is important to find a good balance. If the pad is to hard or soft it can cause unnecessary foot fatigue. The most important thing is that you are comfortable. If all goes well you will be standing on this board for a long time.
The curve of the board along the bottom when looked at from the side. The rocker is arguably the most important aspect of a board. Rocker determines how a board will respond throughout the stroke and ties together all the different physical characteristics of the shape. Rocker is difference between a good board and a bad board more often then not. The most successful shapes are usually a blend of all the design concepts mentioned below.
SPEED BOX: This is typically the area that is underneath the paddler’s feet. The flatter the curve of the board the faster it will go, the curvier the more maneuverable it will be. This is often where a shaper will add concave or other bottom contours to create lift and maximize speed.
NOSE ROCKER: Nose lift prevents a board from pearling when surfing and can help to keep a board maneuverable in rough conditions – or when turning – and help get a board up on plane faster. To much rocker and the nose will push water; not enough and the board will track and be unresponsive.
TAIL ROCKER: Proper tail lift will keep a board light in flat water and help to control a board in rough conditions. It is essential for surfing and turning a board and typically comes into play towards the end of the paddle stroke. If there is not enough tail rocker in a board it will feel like the tail is dragging though the water; to much tail rocker and the board will feel unstable and unresponsive.
#4 BOTTOM CONTOURS
Everyone likes a good bottom. Most successful shapes are usually a blend of all the design concepts mentioned below – also called semi planning hulls.
CONVEX (BELLY): traditionally used in the front of the board to prevent tracking and promote water flow along the full template. Eliminating sharp edges allows water to move uninterrupted along the boards surface. This shape is ideal in rough side chop conditions and flat water.
CONCAVE: Usually referring to a double, single or a hybrid concave on the bottom of a board. Concaves are becoming more and more popular with racers and recreational paddlers. This bottom contour works by moving water under the board and off the rail to create speed and lift. Single concave boards tend to track in a straight line; a double is a bit looser and responsive, but arguably not as fast.
FLAT: A flat bottom tends to be fast and loose with minimal surface area. They can be a bit unstable at times.
V: This contour is great for maneuverability, but tends to be slower in a straight line. The v-bottom is typically used in the tail of the board for turning purposes in surf races or in combination with a pin tail to encourage tracking in rough conditions.
There are three standard fin set ups used on SUP boards. Fins are most often used for stability and directional control in racing and touring. The single fin is recommended as the most efficient and practical choice. Using only one fin allows the paddler to maximize lateral and horizontal surface area without the additional drag associated with thruster or 2+1 fin setups. All fins feature the three aspects covered below to some degree.
DEPTH: The measurement of how far the fin goes down into the water. This is the measurement from the tip of the fin to the bottom of the Standup paddleboard. The fin depth affects the stability of the board and how it holds through turns and in rough water. Shorter fins will be looser and have less hold. Longer fins will have more hold and provide more stability. The deeper the fin the better the control, but the greater the drag.
BASE: The measurement from the front to the back of the fin at its widest point where it meets the board. Wider fins create stability and help a board track through the water.
RAKE: The amount of fin that curves backward from the back of the fin base to the tip. A smaller the rake angle will make a board more maneuverable; a greater angle will help a board track and provide more control while surfing and turning.
A WORD ON WEIGHT…
This is often the most controversial and discussed feature of a board. Lighter paddleboards are often touted as being faster, but weight is secondary to the overall shape of the SUP board. All things being equal a heavier board should carry more momentum and preform better in rough conditions and a lighter board should be easier to move across the water, especially in flat or downwind conditions. However, there are as many slow light-weight boards as there are heavy boards that are fast. In the end it comes down to the overall shape and how well it moves through and releases water along the waterline.
There are many reasons to buy an inflatable board – space restrictions, travel, boating? If you are unsure if it is the way to go maybe thos video from naish will help!