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PostPosted: Tue Mar 10, 2015 10:52 am 
Hobie Tech / Moderator

Joined: Mon Feb 11, 2008 4:34 pm
Posts: 236
Location: Hobie Cat: Oceanside, CA
In the last ten years or so, stand up paddling has grown immensely, and with the rise of paddlers, there has also been a similar rise in the number of board options for different people. This can be overwhelming for the new paddler. There are several broad categories to start with to help narrow down a selection. I see them as recreational, surfing, touring, and racing.

The recreational style boards are the ones most often seen. Big, wide, and very stable. Because of their size, these also tend to be slower than some others. Most users will begin in this range because of the ease of use. The normal size range will be in the ten to twelve foot range and about 32” wide. Larger people will find the larger end of the range more stable, and work down to smaller more maneuverable as they become more proficient. Downsizing also reduces speed so there are some trade-offs.
More information for the series as well as detailed videos covering each model in the links below:

For those who prefer to use their SUP board in the surf, smaller and more maneuverable becomes more critical and with better paddling technique and balance, the smaller boards become the go to choice. The surfing boards generally range from the eight foot range up to about ten. Beyond ten will still surf, and may be preferable in small waves where the extra glide is helpful to get into the waves. More experienced and skilled paddlers will work their way into smaller boards to enable better turning when surfing the waves. Fin choices, and the shapes of the boards also play an important role in the way a board rides a wave.

The touring range of boards is likely the best all-around choice for someone who is doing just that, touring, or looking to cover some ground. They will be faster than the recreational boards, but still offer good stability and capacity. Touring boards are generally slightly longer than the recreational board of similar volume because of the narrower dimensions.

The fastest style of SUP board will be the racing shapes. These will also be the most tippy option, but with the greatest speed potential. A race board will take some getting used to, but still come in a range of sizes for different paddlers. Racing is a quickly growing discipline and is bringing a lot a development to this series. The two primary race classes will be determined by the board length or 12’6” or 14’. Widths on race boards range from below 25” for the elite level racers up to about 28” for more stable options, or for rougher water.

Of course not everyone is going to want to stick to one discipline. Many boards are made that are somewhat of crossovers. A wide raceboard will make for a fast and stable touring board, shorter touring boards work well for some mild surfing, and so on. To make more options, there are inflatable boards in these various shapes and sizes to cover those who don’t have the storage space for a rigid board. Beyond the shapes, there are a lot of different construction choices for durability, weight, and pricing levels. See what interests you and try some different boards to get a better feel for what works best for you!

Brendan Castile

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