If you’re looking for a performance shaped surf SUP this year, this is the board everyone is talking about. Similar and yet also very different to the previous years PRO’s. We’ve been testing the 2019 Starboard PRO 7’10” over the past month in a huge range of conditions and have enjoyed every session. It’s clear to see that Starboard have done a lot of development with this new shape, and good intermediate to advanced surfers will love the new changes and feel of this 2019 board.
Fin set up US box and 4.75” FCS side-fins 4.5” (quad or thruster)
Weight 6.3 kg
Rider size 65-85kg (70-80kg ideally)
Other sizes in board range;
7’0″ x 24” 66L
7’3″ x 26” 83L
7′5″ x 26.75” 92L
7′10″ x 28” 102L 7′10″ x 29” 104L
8’3″ x 29″ 110L
The new shorter outline makes it possible to ride a smaller board with more reactivity. Thinner rails give more control & response to generate more speed. Channeled tail gives bite and drives out of turns. All sizes feature diamond grooved traction pads with tail kick pad with raised centre ridge.
In this weeks SUPboarder review we take a look at the new JP Australia Surf 8’6” x 29”. A brand new size for 2019. We have tested this board over 6 different sessions in a variety of wave types. The JP Australia Surf is a great shaped, advanced surf SUP that’s easy to use. This board is going to get intermediate SUP surfers moving into more aggressive turns and faster waves with its more performance outline shape.
Fin set up US box and 5.5′ M7 FCS side-fins
Weight 7.9 kg
Rider size 65-90kg (75-85kg Ideally)
Other sizes in board range;
7’2″ x 25”
7’6″ x 27”
8′1″ x 28”
8′10″ x 30”
9′2″ x 30”
The JP-Australia Surf range is designed for the “no-compromise”, top to bottom performance in the proper surf conditions for riders of all sizes. The whole Surf line has unique features; single to double concave flowing into a V tail, pulled in nose and tail, progressive rocker line and thin rails. All new for 2019 is the 8’6”x29”. Werner has slightly thinned out the rails and pulled in the nose and the tail, but the volume remains at 113L.
All of the PRO boards come with a 5 fin setup option and 3 fins. The smaller sizes from 7’2” through to 8’6” all come with 3 FCS plugs for the center fin position instead of the US box to keep the weight down to a minimum. The 3 plugs provide 2 center fin position options and the boards come with a RTM thruster fin set. The 8’10” and the 9’2” have the 5 fin option with the US box for the center fin to be able to accommodate a bigger fin. The Wood Edition come with standard – US box thruster set up.
The PRO layup of our SURF boards has no carbon as we believe that carbon makes the boards too stiff for the surf. We have kept a natural flex pattern with strategic dual density sandwich layup and optimized fiber direction. For 2019 we have developed rail construction with Innegra fiber on the PRO boards and Basalt fiber on the Wood Edition boards. No more paint chipping.
Innegra on the PRO boards adds the abrasion resistance but it doesn’t add stiffness as we didn’t want to alter the flex pattern of the boards. Basalt on the Wood Edition boards adds strength, stiffness and abrasion resistance. Basalt is 100% volcanic rock, a natural and sustainable fiber.
Surfing on a wave is a great simple way of enjoying play time with mother nature, without such a risk of broken bones or death like in many other extreme sports! But the want to progress to the next level is only human, and the desire to push that turn a little harder or ride that wave a bit longer is in all of us (even though some of us might hide it a bit better than others!) Don’t get me wrong… comfortably cruising down the mellow clean face of a 2 foot wave is pretty cool. But there’s still something great about watching top level riders in our sport cranking power cutbacks and busting airs on a SUP that makes us want to experience it too… or am I the only one?! But the truth is… Are we ever going to be able to achieve those airs on the boards we are riding? Are the power turns in the critical pocket of the waves achievable on a board that actually floats our weight? Without a doubt, riding smaller boards on waves does make these types of extreme manouvers more achievable. The smaller boards are just setup for it… but are we setup for it? If you want to ride smaller surf SUPs you are going to have to get used to having water over your feet and standing on a board that has to keep moving, otherwise it’s going to be sinking. It’s possible for some of us but it does require a certain skill level, a higher level of fitness and more time on the water. Something unfortunately many of us can’t realistically achieve. But is that the only way? Is using small, unstable, sinking boards the only direction of surf progression for us SUP surfers?… Hell no!
We had to wait for it… but longboard surf SUPs are finally here!
For me when SUP first arrived on the block I was already into longboard and shortboard surfing (pop up style) and must admit like many was abit unsure about SUP surfing at first. Having a go in the surf with a SUP board that was big, very slow and unresponsive, the total opposite to the surf shapes I was previously used to, almost put me off. But after I tracked down a more responsive wave shape and gave it a go I was hooked. As you may know, I love gear, boards in particular… the shapes, the designs and how they effect the riding feel on a wave. I was always amazed that even in the earlier days of SUP there wasn’t really a longboard SUP shape… or one that I would class as a surf longboard shape anyway! 12’x30’’ and weighing 14kg really wasn’t going to tick that box for me! But why wasn’t there? SUP is perfect for this longboard style of boards. I knew what I needed… a 9’-10’ performance surf shape, not too thick in the rail shape.
‘Something that I could still bury a rail in a bigger wave to force a bigger turn or carve off the top…. I just needed to be teleported to NOW! ‘
Looking into the 2019 SUP ranges we finally have a decent number of good looking longboard SUP shapes that really should perform well. I know that some brands have been making good longboard shapes for a while now, but for me it’s not until you have all the big SUP brands joining the party that its time to say that SUP longboarding is really part of the sport. SUP longboards are now available major brands all around the world, not just from small local shapers. Starboard was the icing on the SUP longboard cake for me. Yes they had the Nut boards before but it wasn’t until I saw the new Starboard longboard I got really excited!
What’s so special about Longboards anyway?
It’s simple to explain. Take the tail shape of a good small pro shape board (thin at the rails, with a good amount of tail rocker and a nice fin setup – maybe quad or preferably a US box with small side fins 2+1). Then add 7’ on to it and round the nose off at the front. Then you have a board that’s not that wide but not too narrow, nice and long which gets you into waves super early. But it still has the ability to get you back on the tail to crank a turn almost as hard as a small performance board. Also this board is happy to ride 1’ to 10’ and you won’t have to surf every day to get fit enough to use it. What you can do on a longboard SUP is pretty much anything and if you watch the best longboard SUP surfers they absolutely rip. They’re fast, turn hard, can handle big waves, and the boards allow you to walk the board and nose ride. The surf skills you can pick up on a longboard SUP are immense, and as a result they’re great for personal progression. Compared to longboard prone surfing you really do get the best out of both worlds… surfing and SUP! Or keeping on the theme… have your cake and eat it!
High level aspirations are good but are realistic aspirations better?
So does this mean that we should all sell our small pro shape boards or stop aspiring to use them? No definitely not. But there is a point where you need to be realistic about what you can achieve with your SUP surfing. With enough time on the water every body could get on a small (in relation to their size) performance shaped SUP . But if you put half the amount of time into using a good SUP longboard your progression and level would defintely be higher. Longboard SUPs still require learning new skills, the boards are thinner than most boards and less stable than your average 10’ all round SUP board. But despite all this the performance gain is so much greater. I will still be using my smaller SUP in the surf for sure, but this new generation of longboard SUP really does have me scratching my head to which board to take when I open up the back of my van!
The years to come…
The longboards on the market today are good but there is still a way to go yet to find the perfect shape and design. Just like in surfing, it will never stop. In the next few years I would like to see longboard SUPs available in thinner widths. Not so much that we are sinking like on our shorter boards, but widths around 26’ -27’ would be great to use on a wave. The dream size and shape is still out there for me. But that’s part of the fun… trying to find it!
We look forward to seeing more amping videos from riders like Jackson Close above using 9-10’ boards in the surf, cracking some hard turns and walking the board to get their toes on the nose. The longboard surfing style might not be for everyone but I can guarantee it will put a big smile on your face. I for one will be doing a lot more of it this year. Look out for the feature articles we will be doing over the next few months on SUP surfing longboard techniques and other longboard reviews too. Get out there, give it a go and as always, any questions you have about longboard surfing send them over. I will happily get back to you.
If any of you have seen the original ‘Endless Summer’ 1966 surf film you’ll recognise the quote… ‘The Wedge. The dirty old Wedge.’ The Wedge has been surfed for decades, but it’s still one of the meanest shorebreaks in the world, sucking the sand from the bottom and forcing it back down in a dirty, foaming, fat lip of a wave. It’s an impressive wave to watch, which is why crowds gather on the beach in California to watch the show when it’s on. Surfing The Wedge is for crazy locals only, and SUPing The Wedge is for a very select crew. Waterman and ‘Riviera Paddlesurfer’ Brennan Rose is one of the select crew who has braved this gnarly wave on a SUP. Here Brennan tells SUPboarder all about The Wedge wave, and his last big swell, SUP Wedge session on the 5th May…
‘The Wedge’ in Newport Beach California is down the street from where I grew up. I used to body surf, body board, and surf it as a grom. The Wedge breaks mostly in the summer on South / South West swells, and breaks right next to a jetty. When the swell comes in it bounces off the jetty to create the Wedge. The wave stacks up and usually breaks very close to the beach. Literally every wave you catch you’re hitting the sand. It’s a very dangerous wave, as I’ve seen and heard of many people getting injuries or getting paralysed out there due to the shallow waters.
Ever since I started stand up paddling 6 years ago I’ve wanted to SUP The Wedge. I waited for swell after swell after swell to SUP The Wedge. I didn’t want to go out there on a small day, I wanted to wait for a proper big wave swell. The atmosphere at The Wedge is tricky. The locals are very protective of who paddles out there. The Wedge is mostly a body board and body surfing spot. The past couple of years more and more surfers dare to conquer that steep drop. Most of the waves at the Wedge are close out gnarly barrels so it’s obviously dangerous.
That day The Wedge wasn’t property doing its thing, it was closing out 95 percent of the time. It was big, most sets were triple over head. All of my waves were close outs that I got smashed on. That day every wave I took off on was carnage but I kept looking for the gems. I paddled out late around 9 o’clock which only gave me an hour to surf.
Since the injuries with hard boards they black ball it from 10am to 5 pm which sucks for us boarders but good for body surfers. I ended up breaking my board that day after my seventh wave. It was my first time stand up paddling The Wedge. While it was gangly and dangerous I will go back for more on a even bigger day!
Check out the video below of that swell over the 4/5th of May at the Wedge. It give you a really good feeling for the wave and how mean it really is. Bodyboarders, surfers and one SUPer Brennan. Check out Brennan’s bomb of a wave at 2:30mins in… respect!
If you happen to be out in Cailfona when the Wedge is on. Try and get there to see it, live. Its amazing wave to watch from the beach because you’re so close to the action. It really will make you relise just how small we are in the grand-scale of things. And also be prepared to see a lot of carnage.
If you happen to be out in California when The Wedge is on, try and get there to see it for real. It’s an amazing wave to watch from the beach because you’re so close to the action. But be prepared to feel very small and insignificant! And to see lots of carnage!
Hopefully it won’t be long before we see Brennan out at The Wedge on an even bigger day! But until then you can see what Brennan Rose is up to on his website here.
4 fins, 3 fins, 2 fins, 1 fin or no fin? It’s totally up to you, but ‘how do you decide? and ‘what difference does it make anyway?’ I hear you ask! SUPboarder Andrew Pieterse explains all…
Messing about with your fin setup is one of the easiest and quickest way to change the performance of your SUP and make (or break) a session. As modern SUP surfing is such a new discipline, it helps to take some knowledge from surfing, so let’s look at why you may decide to change things up a little.
The greatest trade off you make when choosing your fin setup is trading drive and hold, for manoeuvrability and slide. Drive generates speed and is good for moves such as power turns, barrel riding and aerials. Manoeuvrability will aid moves such as off the top turns and progressive turns such as tail-slide or 360’s. Essentially the less the combined surface area of your fins the looser your board will feel and the more your board will tend to slide in turns, but you will sacrifice straight line speed and hold. Naturally it’s not quite that straight forward.
Four: Quads are generally known for their hold and ability to generate drive. Pro surfers tend to prefer them in hollow critical waves where it may be necessary to hold a high line under the lip of the wave. Critics say that they tend not to turn as well as thruster (3 equal sized fins) setups. Given the wider template of SUPs quads may have an advantage as they provide a wider spread for fins given the greater area to cover. Quad setups vary from having 4 equally sized fins to having larger fins up front and smaller fins to the rear, effectively loosening up the tail of the board. The smaller you go in the rear, the looser the tail will become with a tendency to pivot around the larger front fins, taking on more twin fin characteristics.
Three: Thrusters have been the mainstay of surfboard manufacturers for many years, only recently starting to give some way to quad setups. Pro SUP surfers on smaller boards still seem to have a preference for 3 fins setups, citing the better turning ability of 3 fins versus 4 fins, which tend to “stick” more in a turn. Common three fins setups on SUPs are usually 2 + 1 i.e. two equally sized front fins with a smaller or larger rear fin in a box setup. As with quads, going down in size on the rear fin will loosen up the tail while using a bigger fin will create more drive and speed.
Two: When surfboards got a lot shorter many surfers moved from traditional single fins to two large fin setups. This did to some extent pave the way for more progressive surfing such as 360’s but for many the jury is still out on the effectiveness of twin fins and certainly one sees very few of them on SUPs. However sometimes it can be great when the surf is small to take out your rear fin and have some fun trying out 360’s in the mush.
One: A classic setup ideal for long drawn out power turns or noseriding. Large single fins create a definite pivot point for your turn and tend to be preferred by exponents of drawing stylish lines and flowing surfing. Nothing wrong with that!
Zero: Recent proponents suggest that surfing was set back by the addition of fins and the purest form of surfing is still fin-free. With SUP however one has to consider that in effect a paddle can be used as a fin to steer the board as well. Save this one for those small mushy days and have a good laugh. Good luck with your tracking when paddling out!
So, if you haven’t done it yet, have a play around with your fins in the surf this winter. Try out different fin set ups and fin sizes in different conditions. And get an understanding of how your fins change the feel and performance of your SUP. It’s one of those things that you just don’t know until you try. (and it will give you another excuse to go out for another cheeky session!)
SUPboarder and experienced waterman Andrew Pieterse is back, with some fantastic tips on getting the most out of paddleboarding when in crowds. By observing what’s going on in the water and using these tips you can be sure to catch more waves and make more friends on the water.
Like most of you I am just in the water to have some fun, and with 2 kids and some grey flecks appearing in my beard, can do without the ego battles raging all around. Nothing can destroy perfect surf faster than a mass of swarming surfers squabbling over each little ripple. No thanks! So how to deal with these marauding crowds and prone surfers?
If it’s ever this busy we recommend you don’t go out!
A wave that looks far more inviting.
Avoid them! Well that’s easier said than done, but it’s still the number one way. Paddle out before the sun is up or find some out-of-the-way spots which may require a bit of walk or local knowledge. Learn to settle for less-than-perfect surf; those 5 star forecasts often mean 5 star crowds.
Observe; before rushing out at a new spot or your old local, check to see what the waves are doing. Importantly, are there any waves being left un-ridden!? If so, try to figure out why surfers are struggling to catch them. Are they sitting in the wrong places, lacking paddlepower or have they simply missed a trick? There is often pack mentality operating in a line up and looking at the surf with a fresh set of eyes is a great technique for getting waves in crowded situations. If you have watched the surf for a while and not seen any waves go un-ridden, it’s just going to be one of those live-and-let-live sessions and you’ll probably be sharing waves. Don’t only watch waves; make mental notes on which surfers are completing rides and those who are struggling. No point in pulling back for someone who is not going to make the take-off, or simply going to ride the foamy straight to the beach.
JP rider Jackson Close surfing one of the busiest surf breaks in the world.
Use your point-of-view advantage; from a standing vantage you can often see sets approaching from a greater distance. Count the swells in the set. Prone surfers will usually freak out over the 1st couple of waves in a set, as they’re effectively blind to the rest and don’t want to hedge their bets. Be patient. If the set has 3 or more waves, don’t even look at the first two, as by the time the 3rd or 4th wave comes around chances are you’ll be on your own and will have your pick. The only disadvantage is the flotsam and jetsam you’ll have to dodge on the inside!
Lastly, make friends. The vast majority of surfers are probably on the same wavelength as you, just out to have fun and get their fair share of waves. So don’t be an arse. I’m tired of having to defend my sport from stories about paddlesurfers on giant boards mowing everyone down in their path and catching every wave. If you’ve had a few good ones, sit in the channel for a while and carry on observing what’s happening in the line up. If someone has a good wave give them a hoot and nod; trust me it works!
Getting acceptance from prone surfers is hard work; you’re on the outside from the start and may as well have a bull’s eye painted on your back. It’s impossible to always avoid confrontations, some people have chips on their shoulders and that’s that. But with some sense you can always find ways to have a good time in crowds, even if you can’t avoid them.
So how do you best deal with a busy line up? If you’ve got any good crowded paddle tips to share we’d love to hear them.
Schooled in the tubular beachbreaks of Cape Town Andy has approx 25 years surfing experience. Although grovelling in contest surf isn’t necessarily his forte; rumour and unconfirmed reports from the South Devon area suggest that he knows what he’s doing when it comes to paddlesurfing (although elderly dog walkers and grumpy shortboarders seldom make reliable witnesses!) Andy talks us through his experience of discovering the joys of SUP surfing after previously surfing for many years…
Moving from surfing to paddlesurfing
It’s all just surfing… whether you have a paddle or not, in the end we’re all just enjoying that glide once the wave grabs hold of us and we’re off down the line! Whilst the racing scene currently seems to be overshadowing paddlesurfing, looking at any SUP magazine or blog shows that it’s still the surf side of things that captures people’s imaginations the best. Over the last 25 years I’ve surfed both longboards and shortboards; finally the paddlesurf bug has gotten hold of me and I’m not looking back. There have been plenty of days when I probably should have retreated to my paddle-free roots, yet the superior speed and glide is proving difficult to resist!
So many surfers just get frustrated because they’re bobbing around and not catching waves on their matchsticks. All too often it’s taken out on paddleboarders. “Why!?” you ask in equal frustration. Well, we’re catching more waves and are no longer just passengers on the ride, we’re starting to rip! No surprise then that more and more surfers are looking up at me with longing in their eyes and quietly admitting to themselves “That looks like a lot more fun.” So if you’ve spent some time on a matchstick and now want to put a paddle in your hand, here are some of my learning experiences in migrating from surfing to paddlesurfing.
“The board is bigger – An obvious statement, but consider the implications. You’re not going to be able to stand on that 6’1 x 18 at 30 litres on the flats, but please note a paddleboard is NOT a blown-up longboard!”
The board you’re on has some guts to it and you need to surf it accordingly. Paddlesurfing is more reminiscent of playing rugby than some light-footed dance (and I’ve got the bruises to prove it). Surfboards tend to be sensitive to the most minor changes in weight distribution and often require the most delicate of weight adjustments. In contrast, on a paddleboard you tend to stomp, lean, drive and push with all your might! Your first experience on a paddleboard will probably be to lean gingerly forward in the hope of turning your board which will remain stoically on course, whilst you end up face first in the whitewater. The earlier you learn to commit more bodyweight and muscle power to your turns the better, besides you have a new magic wand to help!
Having a paddle enables you to do many more manoeuvres than if you were armed only with a board, so learn to use it asap! I first got hooked on using my paddle, bottom turning my 10 footer in solid 4-6ft surf. It’s unreal how much you can lean on the blade when moving at speed. There was no way I could have got that board up the face without using a paddle, which allowed me to extend my body way out over the water to gain the leverage required to turn the big board at speed. I’m slowly learning to put the paddle to greater use; it comes into play in just about every move: Dig it into the face to add leverage to a forehand snap or as a brace on a cutback or tail-slide. However, coming from a prone surfing background it’s not always intuitive and sometimes I still don’t know which side is best, but the experimentation continues.
Soon you will learn to look at the surf in different light. Those crumbly mushy peaks that were previously ignored will become launch pads into the wave and those boring closeouts become untapped wide open faces to race down. Even paddling out becomes a fun new game, but that’s a whole other chapter. So, once you’ve had a ball in the surf you previously looked on in disgust, it’ll be game over and a whole different conversation down at the surf shop! – Andy Pieterse
Have you tried SUP surfing yet? If not, why not… you might be pleasantly surprised! Don’t be afraid to pick up a paddle!
If you were previously a surfer but have now got the SUP surfing bug, what made you make the change…