Tips and advice for choosing the right board
Stand up paddle (SUP) is growing rapidly, resulting in an overwhelming array of styles and designs that are available on the market. All these models available models mean that for every stand up paddler out there, there is a board that is exactly right. But which one is it? The differences between boards mainly lie in length, width and the shape of the front, back and bottom. These aspects influence a board's stability, manoeuvrability, speed and volume. Asking yourself a couple of questions, you will be able to find out what type of board you are looking for.
How experienced are you?
You may have picked up enthousiasm about SUP quite recently, regarding yourself simply as a beginner. If you belong to the majority of people that like to learn how to SUP in a laid back manner and with plenty of stability, then you should probably choose a board with enough width. This way, you'll be able to get to know this sport in all its versatility, while remaining in your comfort zone. On the other hand, if you have some previous experience with board sports or are one of those people that learns everything pretty quickly, you might consider a more performance oriented board. Do not be daunted by a steeper learning curve though!
Where am I going to paddle?
Surf - Boards for stand up paddle surfing generally have more rocker (curvature) than race- or touringboards. More rocker means your board is less likely to dive into the water when you're picked up by a wave. Also, sufficient rocker is essential for high manoeauvrability and faster turns. Another important characteristic of SUP surfboards is their shorter length, often between 8' and 10' (2.40 - 3.05 metres). 'Classic' wave surfing is pretty demanding and is also very dependant on the right conditions. With SUP surfing though, basically the entire European coast has become a true surfer's paradise, because you can experience that surf feeling in smaller waves and with less effort!
Allround - Most SUP boards can be considered 'allround', which means that they can be used as both a SUP surf board and for (short) trips on both inland water and sea. Not too extreme in terms of length, width or rocker, but generally shorter than the more specialized touring- or raceboards. Allround is a pretty broad category though and covers a pretty large spectrum. You can choose for a board that's a little more geared for SUP surfing or one that's better on flat water conditions. There's a board for every paddler out there!
Race – With their extended length (usually between 12'6" and 14'0") and less width (generally below 29"), the newest generation of race boards literally slice through the water with their 'displacement hull' (think of a sailboat hull). Improved speed and tracking generally means that you'll have less stability and manoeuvrability though.
Touring – Touring boards in general possess more volume than racing boards and several inches wider. This makes them ideal for efficient yet comfortable cruising but also a little less fast. Usually, these boards also have tie down points to easily take some extra equipment, baggage or even fishing gear with you.
Inflatable– Travelling with a stand up paddle board may be quite a hassle because of their size and not everyone has the storage space for a large board. In these cases, an inflatable board may provide the right answer for you. Inflatable boards have seen a lot of improvement in recent years , are made from high quality PVC and have been reinforced in critical places. Since they can be inflated to a pressure of around 15 psi, inflatable stand up paddle boards are pretty rigid (although not as much as a classic sup ofcourse). Inflatable boards at Supboardshop are always delivered with an easy-to-use travel bag and a hand pump or even an electrical pump for easy inflation.
Wind crossover - Wind crossover boards can be turned into an entry-level windsurfboards, since a mastfoot can be inserted upon the board. If you're looking for a true multifunctional board, these are the ones you're looking for!
How long should my board be?
Stand up paddle boards generally range from SUP surfing boards of around 8' (2,45 m) to race boards that generally are up to 15' (4,60 m). A board's length influences mainly its speed and manoeuvrability. Longer boards generally are more stable, faster and are better in maintaining their course but are less manoeuvrable at the same time.
For the large group of new entrants into the sport,
Board characteristics to take into account
Besides dimensions like volume, length and width, there are basically four core characteristics of a board to take into account. You'll encounter these characteristics for example when you use the filters on Supboardshop. These four characteristics follow from a combination of board dimensions and shape and perhaps need some extra explanation:
Manoeuvrability: We know, this one basically speaks for itself: how easily a board turns around its axis. A board's manoeuvrability is mainly decided by its length (shorter is more manoeuvrable). It is especially useful if you're going to SUP in the waves or if you're going to SUP on narrow and twisting rivers. If your main goal is to paddle on large flat waters or lakes, manoeuvrability is less useful and can be even annoying (see 'tracking').
Stability: The stability of a board is decided by its width for about 95% and if you're a relative beginner we definitely recommend a stable board. Board stability also improves your level om comfort on a board, since you don't have to balance as much.
Tracking: Simply put, tracking is the opposite of manoeuvrability. If you're planning on paddling on flat waters and would like to travel some distances, it is nice to not have to change sides paddling too often to avoid make S-turns. The primary dimension determining the amount of tracking is the length of the water line of your board. On a touring- or raceboard, where tracking is an important factor, the board's nose will touch the water to lengthen the water line, as opposed to a classic surfboard shape where the nose will generally hover above the water.
Glide: Glide is the SUP term for the amount of resistance a board will encounter from the water. A wide board will encounter a lot more resistance than a more narrow board and will slow down a lot faster. Also, the shape of a board is important here: a touringboard with its 'displacement hull' will cut through the water, while an allround board will have a much wider water profile on which it will encounter resistance.