We take a look at the two big players in the 2018 Starboard race range… the Starboard All Star and Starboard Sprint. They’re both already proven race winning boards, but the 2018 boards have been refined and the range of conditions they work well in widened (from the 2017 models) to give all level of riders the best boards under their feet in a wider range of water states.
In this video we compare and dissect the two boards to give you real world facts and feedback – what conditions we found the boards work best in and who we think the boards will be best suited for.
Records are there to be set and there to be broken. But it’s never easy and it takes a certain type of person to do it! And when it involves paddling around the clock as far as possible, having the right mental state is just as important as having the right kit, preparation and weather.
193.8km in 24hrs. Thats the SUP distance record set just last week by Pro Stand Up Paddler, adventurer and International Starboard Team rider Bart de Zwart in Switzerland. It wasn’t an easy record to set with increasing winds, sore muscles and a tired body trying to slow Bart down. But with a goal in sight Bart didn’t let any of that get in his way, and his determination pushed him through.
SUPboarder caught up with Bart to hear how he managed to keep paddling and achieve his epic 24hr SUP distance record…
“I started the day before in nice conditions. I used a Starboard Sprint unlimited, with 21.5 just stable enough to stand on it for 24 hrs. The first 3 laps (10.5 km laps) went well with a 9.2 average, the record was right on track. Soon after clouds came in and gathered to form thunder and lighting, luckily it stayed in the mountains nearby but the winds steered up, changing directions every 20 minutes. At some point , 6 hours into the record I was doing 6km/hr, not really record breaking speed. In the next few hours the wind lightened up but having used a little more energy than I should have in the windy conditions, my average speed went down in the next few hours. I had to adjust my goals. My first goal was to break the existing 179.99 km record, secondary a good goal was 192 km and I hoped for 200km. But it became clear pretty quick, that the 200 km would be hard in these conditions. I kept a pretty good pace during the night and picked it up slightly during the day. Racing like this is very different than any other long distance race I have ever done. It is a constant pressure of not loosing time and watching your speed. I have 4 different GPSs on the board to document the distance paddled, which is required for a record like this. My support crew consisted of Joanne Hamilton-Vale (women 24 distance record holder) and 2 locals Micheline Hauchecorn (local paddler) and Philipp (SUP station, Erlach). Every couple of hours they supplied me with a fresh hip bag with my liquid drinks and some solid food. I had one bladder filled with Hammer, Perpethuem (liquid endurance food) and one with water. The perpethuem energy drink gives me a constant energy level. Apart from that I use energy bars, bananas and nuts. During the afternoon when I got closer to the finish of the 24 hours it looked like I would get to my 192 km goal. I was hurting everywhere, at times it was hot and at times there was wind again. But knowing I was breaking the record motivated me even more. The first part of a record like this is power, strength and endurance. The second part of 24 hrs is endurance but mostly mental. Coping with sore muscles and just keeping going, although every part of your body wants to stop and relax. After 22hr20min I broke the original record and finished after 24 hrs with 193.8km. New World Record set.”
SB/ Tell us a bit more about the SUP kit you used and what influenced your kit choice. Bart/ I used a Starboard production sprint which was modified by extending the nose and tail to give it a little more glide. It is a little harder to get going but runs really smooth through the water.
SB/ What made you choose Erlach, Switzerland as the location for your challenge? Bart/ I had to find a place where likelihood of no wind was big. In Maui 24hrs without wind is almost impossible, Holland , the same thing. Thought about California, Florida and Europe. It ended up being Europe because I could combine it with seeing the team and doing the Dutch championships. I normally find locations by looking at google earth and checking the wind data and other local information on line.
SB/ What specific training did you do prior to the challenge? and the 24 hrs immediately before? Bart/ I train about 5 or 6 times a week of which I try to do 2 longer paddles (2.5 and 5 hr paddle). Other than that I prepare a lot. Food, equipment (GPS, water bags). Being prepared and have the right food helps with your mental state. A challenge like this is 50/50 fitness/mental. The will to accomplish and pull through when everything in your body is hurting is mostly mental. Keeping a good level of energy supply is your food and preparation.
SB/ It was unfortunate that the weather was not on your side. Do you think paddling 200km in 24hrs, which is what you were aiming for, is actually achievable? Bart/ For me the 200km is definitely possible. Although to plan and make goals on the couch is very easy to exactly do it and keep that average speed high when you in your 18th hr is very different. it is all about the average speed. Every little rest , food break, water bag change you make brings your average speed down. it is a race against yourself and the clock. Very different from a normal race.
SB/ If you decided to do it again what would you do differently? Bart/ Nothing just find a better place with even less change of wind. I have learned again that the mountains under warm circumstances can be hard to predict what the wind will do.
SB/ Describe in one sentence how it feels to paddle 193.8km in 24 hrs?!! Bart/ Like I always say, doing something hard (24hr record paddle) is tough and hard but also very rewarding and you come out appreciating the smaller things in life more.
Photos by : Joerg Husi
Sponsors : Starboard, Patagonia, Supskin, Maui Jim, Robijns bv, Camelbak / Suunto, Black Project fins, Kanaha Kai Maui
You can follow more of Bart’s adventures and epic paddles on SUPboarder and via his facebook. Well done Bart. We look forward to hearing what you’re planning next!
If you’re looking to buy your first time race board, knowing what type of race board to buy can be a bit of a headache. Most brands will have 2 different styles of race boards (flat water and all water) in 2 sizes (12’6” & 14′ lengths) which come in many different widths. We talk to top Starboard rider Ollie Shilston about what are the basic differences between the Starboard Sprint (flatwater board) and the All Star (all round open water board), after his win at the Battle of the Thames in London.
Race boards vary a lot in their design and finding the right one for your paddling style can be quite a challenge. Even then when you’e found the right board at the right price it might not be perfect. In other sports it’s not uncommon for athletes to take their sponsors kit and tweak it to their personal preference, in SUP even a top of the range stock race board may need some changes to maximise your performance or to get as much ‘free’ speed on the water. “Marginal Gains”was a phrase coined by Sir Dave Brailsford with Sky Pro Cycling and in this article Dr Bryce Dyer explains how he has customised one of his race boards to get the most out of it.
I conducted a study a few years back whereby I’d evaluated a range of Olympic sports and looked at their rate of performance improvements over long periods of time. My conclusion was that the biggest jumps in performance over the last few decades were due to technological changes, not huge jumps in human physiology. However, SUP is a newer sport and is therefore still early in its journey to the land of diminishing returns. This all said, the margins are tight and any gain in straight line speed is a gain worth having when you consider the majority of the events in the UK are held on flatwater. To give you an example of this, Scott Brown beat Crispin Jones for the last step of the 14ft podium by just 8 seconds in a 90 minute race at the recent UKSUPClubs event held in Norfolk. This gap equated to roughly just 0.1% of their total race time. On that day, Brown was riding a Starboard 26.5 wide Allstar whereas Jones was on his 30 inch wide cut down Starboard. Despite the impact of drafting, the fact that both paddlers are on radically different boards, suggests that one or the other profited from superior equipment (or ultimately was the best all round compromise on the day). Whilst you might be thinking that any defining factor is likely how well you paddle, you’d be right. After all you can’t turn a donkey into a racehorse and SUP flatwater racing is still essentially an aerobic sport. However, any decisions you make with your equipment, is basically free speed and a completely separate decision to any effort to what you’ve being doing in training. One does not need to justify or influence the other.
In part of my day job, I research ways that I can improve and measure performance in sports technology and this interest expands into my own hobbies. As a result, I thought I’d illustrate how I customised my own race board to suit my own needs when I race. I purchased my first race board last year from the SUP Store in Bournemouth. It is a 2014 Starboard ‘Sprint’ in a 26 inch width.
I have changed it in a few ways to make it easier to handle, to be more stable and to give me the information I want when racing.
One of the first things I did was play around with was my fin choice. Fin size, position and shape can massively alter how a board behaves. The stock fin I found was fine but I when I tried some aftermarket models, I found I could drastically change the way it tracked and rolled. On this board I’ve currently opted for the biggest surface area I could find. In this case, I’m currently using a Future’s JB Runner.
Many will say that a fin this large creates more drag but the level of drag is dependent on your typical speed. In addition, what many forget is that when a company says their fin has low drag, they likely haven’t simulated it with the fin oscillating with the typical roll a paddlers board is subjected to. It’s no good having a thin, low drag fin if the board is going through such lateral roll that the fin generates a huge wake.
There is a relationship between a fins surface area and the turbulence it generates based on its length and profile that should be tailored to your ability.
Not only that, whilst the force of the paddles blade in the water is propelling the board forwards, the paddle is probably not applying all of its contribution directly in line with the board. As a result, like a dagger board in a sailing dinghy, a fin can actually produce a positive drive forwards. Being big may not mean being slow. It’s well worth experimenting.
By the way, I intend to countersink the bolt that holds it in place at some point if I can. It makes no sense to have a fin that is highly hydrodynamic in design and then ask a customer to whack a round headed bolt directly in front of the leading edge. If speed is the aim, fin manufacturers should really tidy that area up.
Being a novice racer this year, you could argue it might have been wiser for someone like me to opt for a slightly wider board where balance is a given and not six months on a wobble board. However, I calculated that the time gains from myself to several other paddlers decreased massively in my favour when I switched from my 28 inch wide ‘Allstar’ I’d used at the UKSUP Clubs Nottingham leg to my Sprint at the subsequent races. Part of this speed gain is the decrease in mass of moving from the glass build of my Allstar to the carbon Sprint. Its shape also obviously has some impact. The other big factor is likely the 2 inch decrease in board width. However, in chop I have struggled with the Sprints relatively narrow width. To help this, I sent my board off to a trusted source to get two foot indentations carved out on each side of the footwell, and then refinished in carbon fibre to my specifications. It might not be pretty but I found it has helped massively.
This allows me to have a slightly wider stance, thereby increasing my stability. In this case I gained another two inches. This might not sound like much but was an increase in feet stance of 10%, taking my effective stance width to the same as it is on my wider 28 inch wide Allstar.I then took the opportunity to replace the deck grip with something with more friction and cut it to fit the new recesses.
Be warned that this kind of mod isn’t for the fainthearted, needs a board shaper that has experience you can trust, voids any warranty you have and likely reduces the boards second-hand value.
Note from editor, Bryce is a tall guy and will get most benefit from this dramatic change to his stock Sprint making the board more stable for the ‘novice’ paddler and allowing a narrower stance later as he progresses with his career. The 2016 Sprint range from Starboard feature a deck that has been made wider by undercutting the side, a full length version of Bryce’s modification.
SUP mount for Garmin Edge
SUP mount for Garmin Edge
Information on the move is often limited to our own perceptions or at best a GPS wristwatch. That’s not a bad thing as there is an old saying that athletes can get ‘paralysis by analysis’ or the numbers you see in a flash suddenly become a rod up your own back. Seeing a change in speed could indicate a current you need to move away from, a change in stroke rate an early sign of fatigue or a change in heart rate as helping a decision whether you should bridge a gap or make an attack. A wristwatch is in the wrong place to do this so I use a deck mounted Garmin 800.
You don’t really want to be drilling holes in your board (as if water gets into the foam core, it can suck it up like a sponge). Instead, I use a standard cycling Garmin handlebar mount and then use its thick elastic bands run through the front leash anchor point. I could have customised a stick on Go Pro camera mount but due to my footwell depth, there was a risk the paddle could strike it when changing sides. By the way, I use more than one fitting band in case one snaps and I also use a thick foam pad behind it to help absorb any vibration of the board that could shake it loose.
Note from the editor, mouldable silicon glue like Sugru could help with adhesion and vibration when attaching electronics to a board. Also be aware that The Garmin Edge series is water-resistant which is enough for it’s original cycling market.
My Garmin is linked to a cadence sensor I’ve taped on my paddle blade. My sensor is a modified Vaaka sensor (they are not currently available for SUP paddlers) and this lets me know my stroke rate. I have done some testing with determining my optimum stroke rate but it also lets me know when I’m getting tired as I personally find my cadence drops badly when I fatigue.
With this set up, I can then glance down when I need to and I personally like to see my current speed, heart rate, stroke rate, elapsed time and 60 second rolling average speed. Review of this information later in performance software I have then lets me know what went well and where things need to be improved in the future.
At the end of the day, no gadget or hacksaw alone is going to notch you your next big win. However, everything in sport can be equated to a set of scales balancing the factors moving you forwards or those slowing you down. Manipulating these might start to tilt those scales more in your favour….