The ABC's of SUP boards with advice on choosing equipment

Choosing a Stand Up Paddle Board (SUP)

Waveriding: If riding waves is going to be your priority, consider a higher performance board, thats around 10ft and under. The more ability you have the smaller you can go. If you consider a 10ft surfboard, could, in surfing terms be used by a beginer you have some idea as to the size of SUP you require. Stability is achieved once moving on a wave, forward motion equates to stability. The compromise in length/width and displacement is a trade between paddling out through the surf and actualy riding waves. One trick enabling you to achieve stability getting through surf (especialy on smaller boards) is to lower your centre of gravity (making the whole process more stable) by kneeling instead of standing while paddling.

Flat Water paddling: Higher volume and a low rocker are the go. Calm water equates to mid-sized boards while rough water conditions will demand larger boards (that's 12ft x 30" x 5") making balancing significantly easier.

What do you choose: How big a SUP board do I need? The answer; there is no right sized board. Everyone will have a take on this based on skill (having surfed before) and choice of use. The larger the SUP board the more stable, but in surf conditions the harder it will be to turn. Paddlers with past surfing experience will choose smaller, lower volume SUP boards while beginners and paddlers using boards in flat-water conditions prefer longer, wider and higher volume boards. Three points worth remembering; 1) Displacement plays a large part in the design of a SUP for an indervidual customer and should not be confused with volume. The shapers skill should equate the piece of foam before him into a board, extracting as much performance matched to the customers ability. 2) The paddlers weight and height will also play a considerable part in the building of a custom SUP board. 3) The paddlers ability is parramont.

Common Terminology used in board design.

Deck: The bit you stand on. Generally flat but can be domed (generally shaped into surf SUP's) allowing volume to be reduced in the rails for ease in rail to rail transitions while surfing.

Bottom: Flat bottoms are the norm, giving greater stability. A convexed hull will be faster and more manoeuvrable but less forgiving. Vee will often be shapped into the tail giving greater maneuverability.

Rails: Edges of the board. Higher volume rails will aid stability. The opposite for a thinner rail. This design feature allows for ease of turning which leads to higher performance in the surf.

Rocker: Curve from nose (front) to tail (back) in section along the boards length. This in turn can be broken down into nose rocker/lift and tail rocker/lift. Of more importance in surf conditions though a design factor in all boards.

Tail: The back end of the board. Many tails shapes are available. Mostly a preference thing but certain shapes do aid performance, especially speed, holding ability (while surfing steeper waves) and manoeuvrability.

Fins: Placed on the underside at the back of the board to stop the tail from drifting while surfing. Both in surf and flat water SUP's the fin will give the board directional stability.

Handle or Soap dish: SUP's are wide making them difficult  to carry. Shaping a groove into the deck for your hand allows for carrying under the arm.  

Remember, with one board used in all conditions there has to be a compromise in design. One board cannot achieve 100% in all SUP disciplines, though using a single SUP board in differing conditions will depend mainly on skill level. Everything works, its just a question of performance and how well. And of course, how much fun you want to have.

Wave boards do differ from that of flat water boards, so If you have further areas that you are unsure of concerning the choice of SUP then please contact or fill in the free quote form. 

A word on paddles. Correct paddle technique is important to riding SUP's. Paddle size correct for your height is important to insure when paddling you are standing tall and straight. Total paddle length can be determined by allowing 4"- 6" longer than you are tall. A longer tapered blade will be conducive to consistant long distant paddling while a short wide blade will aid wave riding. 

Finally, beware of being sold what the outlet has in stock as opposed to what you need. Board design is not a mystery

All the best



Handcrafted wave tools designed by Alan Neighbour