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I absolutely love the Hypr Nalu Hawaii gun SUPs: I have versions in 10-6, 11-6 and 12-6. They are so incredibly stable for their width, and are exceptionally fast to paddle and surf. The build quality is also second to none and they are tough (with no paint to chip), and they also look very special indeed. These boards have a fairly flat rocker (for a surf shape), are low volume with thin rails, and have a patented set of concaves on the underside that really work. It is a unique set of characteristics that you won't find in any other board on the market, and overall, these are boards for connoisseurs. Amazingly however, they are comparable for price (or maybe even less) with other premium brands - despite being made with much better materials and methods (e.g. thick tropical hardwood veneers, wood stringers, quality foam, nose and tail wood blocks etc). I don't know why everyone doesn't have one :)

So, after having tried the 12-6 for downwinding and been amazed at how well it had picked up even small bumps, and delivered a "maximum surfability" experience, it was obvious to me that something longer and narrower would be an unreal performer. So I chatted with the owner of Hypr Nalu Hawaii, Ian Foo, and the European distributor, Richard Webb, and hey presto, a few weeks later they contacted me to say that 14ft Hypr gun was born.

And a couple of days ago I got these pictures of it being made. I'm getting mine in double-carbon full PVC sandwich construction. But tropical hardwood versions that look absolutely incredible are also going to be available (see the Hypr Nalu Hawaii website for examples of the finishes/constructions they offer).

14ft x 26" x 4.5"

If you are in the market for a surf/ocean board like the Sunova Search, or a downwind 14 like the Jimmy Lewis Rail, but you want some real HYPR performance - or even just a board that can cope with any kinds of winds or chop, then take a look at these pics.

I don't think I need to say any more.

Want one...?

Gear Talk / Hypr Nalu Hawaii 12'6" gun - something a little special
« on: May 24, 2019, 08:07:28 AM »
I love guns. They are so versatile. Here's my latest purchase. This one is a Hypr Nalu Hawaii 12-6 29" wide 170L gun, with thin rails, and deep concaves. It is a full wood sandwich construction with a wooden stringer that creates an I-beam type arrangement to make it strong and stiff. The wood is a tropical hardwood in a thick veneer, so that adds strength too.

I've only had it for a while, so I'll post an update when I can tell you what it is like in decent surf. But what I can tell you so far is:

1. It is a really superb small wave groveler - it catches EVERYTHING.

2. It is CRAZY stable. Its low volume, thin rails that are hard throughout, and marked concaves means it sits low in the water and is FAR more stable than you'd think for 29". It is a stable as a table. They are really onto something here.

3. It paddles surprisingly fast for a 12-6 low volume board. The rocker is quite modest for a gun shape, which helps. The concaves seem to help with tracking.

4. It is fast and maneuverable for a 12-6 on the wave. It feels much smaller than its size on a wave.

I'll have to wait to see how it is in bigger conditions. It's not really a beachbreak board, obviously, but I bought it for a rippy offshore  sandbank bombora that yields super-long rides on fat waves, and I suspect it will be perfect for that.

It came with bungees on the rear, so you could use it for day trips, as long as you weren't carrying much. But I have removed these since I will be surfing this.

You could easily put in a good few miles on a day trip on this - it's very comfortable and easy to paddle. It even works surprisingly well as a pocket downwinder, as long as you aren't heavy.

I think that boards like these are actually much better "all-around" boards than the typical spoon-nosed boards that are usually sold with that label. And it's a GUN! :) The very sight of it gets my adrenaline going in anticipation of some serious fun.

Gear Talk / Red Paddle Co Compact 9’6” 2019
« on: May 12, 2019, 11:02:19 AM »
Interesting design. And I can imagine how this paddles in flat water. But has anyone tried to surf it? I’m not sure if the wide ass, double keel-type fins, and flat rocker would make it virtually unsurfable, except maybe for pushing kids into tiny foam rollers...?

Any hands-on surf experience of this board out there?

SUP General / Battle for control of the sport of SUP
« on: August 05, 2018, 01:14:06 PM »
Is SUP a surf sport or a canoe sport? In this international battle, first blood to the surfers, it seems:

“The International Surfing Association (ISA) has today welcomed a ruling in Portugal that confirmed the Portuguese Surfing Federation (FPS) as the exclusive governing body of StandUp Paddle (SUP).

The ruling, made at the Portuguese Court of Arbitration for Sport, confirmed FPS as the only national federation with a remit to organise and authorise StandUp Paddle (SUP) events within Portugal...

...The ruling comes as the ISA and ICF enter CAS Arbitration and reinforces the ISA’s long-standing and historic governance of the sport of StandUp Paddle. In particular, the Court noted in its decision that the record clearly shows that the ICF has never organized any SUP World Championships, and that the ISA has organized every World SUP Championship in history”.

SUP General / Trade wars: will this affect SUP prices?
« on: June 21, 2018, 11:55:00 PM »
In retaliation for Trump’s import tariffs on goods imported from the European Union, the EU has slapped a tariff of 25% on a range of goods from the US. One of these categories of goods is the following:

“Vessels for pleasure or sports, rowing boats and canoes, of a weight <= 100 kg each (excl. motor boats powered other than by outboard motors, sailboats with or without auxiliary motor and inflatable boats)”.

Does anyone know if this will apply to SUPs, and if so, do these import duties apply to products manufactured in non-US countries for US-registered countries, or only to boards actually built in the US (e.g. a SIC custom)?

Full list of import tariffs here:

Of course, China and other countries are also implementing retaliatory import tariffs on US goods as well, so maybe these changes might indirectly affect SUP production somehow? I don’t know how the supply chains work or how import tariffs work in respect of them. Is there anyone here who knows about these things?

SUPs are already crazy expensive in the EU. For instance, a 10ft Fanatic Stylemaster Ltd surf SUP costs the equivalent of $2184 dollars US in the UK at today’s exchange rate. We really don’t need any further price hikes.


SUP General / The history of SUP according to the ICF
« on: February 12, 2018, 07:55:45 PM »
This summary of the history of SUP is given on the International Canoe Federation’s website. Is it accurate?

“SUP is believed to have originated in Africa, became very popular in Hawaii in the 1940’s, and can now be seen in countries and on waterways all over the globe”.

Since this organisation is currently in court battling for “ownership” of the sport of SUP, it is important that they represent our history accurately. A cynical mind might suggest that a body in a court dispute of this kind may wish to emphasise those aspects of a sport’s history that might fit best with their case, perhaps, and de-emphasise those that might conflict with it. Of course, I am absolutely positive that this is not what is occurring here at all...

If you were to describe the history of SUP in one sentence, would your sentence look like theirs?

I guess that at least no-one is going to be blaming Laird any more :)

SUP General / APP World Tour event Japan
« on: May 06, 2017, 08:02:27 AM »
Great video of the APP world tour distance race here:

Conditions looked tough. It was surprising how many of the top people were falling. I'll bet a few were wishing their board was a little wider....

Mo's board seemed to be coping with those conditions well. Has anyone here got one/tried one?

SUP General / Slight navigational miscalculation...
« on: October 11, 2016, 04:33:21 AM »
German tourist goes paddleboarding in fleece and shorts, and ends up being rescued in the middle of the English Channel, 7 miles from shore.

Inshore air here is around 12C (54F) and water is around 16C (61F). It will be colder offshore, obviously. There has been a F4-5 rather chilly Northerly (offshore) wind blowing for the last few days. The English Channel is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world (it separates England from France) and you wouldn't normally cross it without a boat escort.

If he was spotted at dawn, it makes you wonder when he had set off.

At least he was wearing a hat :)

Nice to have a happy outcome, and he'll have a story to tell. Maybe he's a zoner?

Gear Talk / 2016 Surftech Bark Vapor 14ft review
« on: February 23, 2016, 06:21:34 AM »
There has been a lot of interest in the forums recently in this new Joe Bark design, and I was lucky enough to be one of the first people in Europe to get one. I had to buy it fairly "blind" since I'd never seen one let alone tried one, and although there is a bit of video evidence out there it is either from brands or retailers. So I thought I'd share my thoughts on this board with you, in case you are thinking of buying one too. I hope you find it useful.

What Joe Bark has done here is combine the nose shape from the Bark Commander traditional (i.e. prone) paddleboard with the tail shape from the Dominator and D2 SUP models. This seems like an obvious strategy. The Commander has been a hugely successful model for Bark since its introduction 7 years ago, with (according to the Surftech blurb) world records at the Molokai-2-Oahu and the Catalina Classic and numerous other race successes. The Dominator and D2 models should need no introduction. The Dominator was one of the first production displacement SUPs to be widely marketed, and it must rank as one of the most successful SUP raceboard designs in our sport to date.

The result is in the Vapor, and it is Joe’s take on the hybrid snub-nosed planing design that is proving popular recently with people looking for an all-conditions type board that is particularly suited to ocean racing in fairly mild chop, but also copes well with choppy, windy or confused inland waters. Similar concepts from other brands are, I guess, the 2015 and 2016 Fanatic Falcons, some of the Starboard All Star models, and the SIC Bullet FX. But whereas these other models tend to be slightly more oriented towards flat water race speed than difficult ocean or downwind performance, the Vapor feels instantly more oriented to pretty seriously choppy conditions.

Model: Surftech Bark Vapor 2016
Length: 14 ft.
Width: 26 inches.
Weight:  29lbs measured without fin, damp, on my home scales.
Volume: 271 L
Construction: Surftech Pro-Elite. Surftech’s proprietary fused-cell foam core is pressure-molded, with carbon (on the bottom only) and fiberglass and a high-density foam (PVC) reinforced standing area.

The first thing to note about this board is that if you are used to super-lightweight raceboards, then it will feel a bit heavy. But if you are used to heavy construction boards (like the Naish GS Glides or some of the older AST boards) then it will feel fairly light. At 29lbs (without fin) it feels like a mid-range type construction, akin to some of the better AST boards. Most people picking it up won’t comment “oh that’s heavy”, but not will they say “oh that’s light”. It’s right there in the middle. But it is heavy enough that when wet, and after a long session, if you’ve got a long walk back to a vehicle and you are loading it yourself, you will wish it was a bit lighter.

However, the fit and finish of my Vapor is excellent, and although some Surftech Barks have in the past attracted criticism for having paint that chips, this is not the case with my board. Reassuringly it has a factory QC sticker on it, (which reads 10.9/15 Sudjal W.) so I know when it was checked and by whom. I have managed to put a teeny tiny chip in it since I used it, but this was when I was surfing the board and really whacked the rail in a wipe-out. I was expecting to have dug a large chunk out of the rail, but in fact only managed to remove a microscopic amount of top paint. So I think this inadvertent test suggests that it is pretty durable. I’ve also rested it on the rail on gravel (I don’t recommend this but at the time there was no option at the time) and so far there are no marks.

The board comes with a lovely deep and rounded ledge-type handle, with enough room to get your hands in even wearing gloves. And above this is a comfy neoprene-covered strap (pictured). This offsets the weight of the board nicely, and the strap plus deep handle gives the best of both worlds in terms of carrying in wind, loading/unloading and having something to grab in a hurry in critical ocean or race situations. There is a Goretex valve.

This board is very stable for a 26” wide board. It surprised me, actually. My balance is distinctly average old-guy compromised, but I feel confident on it moving from staggered stance to parallel etc in even choppy conditions. The stability I would say is only very slightly less than the SIC Bullet 14 V2 (27.25” wide), and it is actually probably a little bit more stable than e.g. the Naish Mk2 27.25” wide 14ft Glide in confused water. So, if your normal comfort zone is 27-28” wide, you might be surprised (as I was) at how comfortable this feels.

A lot of this feeling of stability is actually due to the outstanding handling of this board, I think. It is enormously well-mannered, and does nothing surprising in even the most critical conditions. Handling is a very difficult thing to quantify or explain. But you know it when you feel it. It is about predictability, and a board doing what you want it to do when you want it to do it. And this is perhaps the best board I have even tried in that respect – and I have tried a LOT of boards. I haven’t yet managed to find a situation that seems to unsettle it. It is IMO a hugely refined and very well thought-out board. I jumped on it in tricky conditions (onshore 20 knots, 1-2ft messy bumps) and felt immediately at home. The board actually feels more stable the choppier the water gets. You can roll it from side to side by weighting the rail, but it seems to do this in such a predictable way that it is easy to naturally compensate for it, especially if you are experienced in chop.
The flat water speed is not remarkable for a 14x26. At medium pace, and with an average paddler on board, it is roughly comparable to an average 12-6 displacement nose race board. At full-on sprint pace it fares better however. There is something about the nose design, or perhaps it is the volume distribution throughout, that means that the board stays nicely level in the water as you put the power down – there is relatively little pitching, fore and aft.  So I can imagine that powerful sprint paddlers might be able to make good use of this feature to extract more speed from the board than the cruising pace might suggest. It is also very easy indeed to kick turn. So if the race were a series of short sprints and lots of buoy turns, this board might fare reasonably well.  Also, the board does draft very well, and can seem to get sucked along behind another vessel.  So there may be many situations where these aspects might compensate for average flat line speed in a race. But in general, if you are looking for a board to use substantially for pure flat water racing, then you might want to look elsewhere. The nose does the “sprinkler” thing, so you can see where energy is being wasted. 

This board might actually make a pretty comfortable tourer for a reasonably experienced paddler, as long as you weren’t carrying much kit. As mentioned above, it is a lovely board in terms of the “paddle experience”.  The stability/width ratio means that it is quite easy to get the paddle perpendicular to get a technically good stroke, and there is good glide between strokes, which means that you can slow down your cadence and still make decent progress. The weight of the board might actually help a little here – it is smooth to paddle, not a stop-start kind of board.

The Vapor surfs quite well for a 14ft. It isn’t quite as good as e.g. the SIC Bullet V2, but is better than many. It tends to want to sit quite high on the wave, which can actually be rather useful in fat unbroken-type waves. You aren’t going to be pulling any radical moves on this board, but slow cutbacks are possible even for average surfers like me, and surfing it is fun.  Two weakness of the Vapor show up here however. First, the deck pad does not go back far enough. In order to surf boards like this you really have to get your back foot right over the fin. But in this case the deck pad stops short of the fin. So I’ve had to wax the back of the board. It looks a mess. So I’m going to buy an aftermarket kick pad to put back there. This annoys me. So, a message to Joe Bark and other shapers out there: for heaven’s sakes, if you are producing a board that is going to be used in ocean conditions, or technical surf races etc. then PLEASE extend the deck pad back to cover the fin area. There really is no excuse not to. If you don’t it looks like you don’t really understand how these boards will likely be used. I thank Coreban every time I used the kick pad on my Dart: Whenever you are using it (e.g. big downwind drops or waves), the situation is likely to be pretty critical, and you really want things to go well. Having your foot slip at those times is dangerous and unnecessary. A kick pad is also useful to hold onto sometimes when you are in the water, and it also just looks cool…

The second weakness is the fin. The standard Bark fin looks a lot like the Laird Ocean one, and is fine for flat water tracking, with a wide base (see picture). It also keeps weeds at bay. But it isn’t much use for surfing – the width of the base makes it still to turn.  It also isn’t much good IMO for quartering wind and waves, or downwind. A smaller area fin with a much narrower base (e.g. a cutaway) improves performance considerably for surf and general ocean work.

Now we get to what the Vapor does best. Heavens, this is a good downwind board! Really, this is one of the very best I have tried. And I own 8 downwind boards. And have tried very many more. The general principal of the Vapor is a bit like the SIC Bullet 14v2 (or perhaps the 2015 Fanatic Falcon) – a fairly voluminous nose, low rocker type (see pictures of rocker line). But it has a much wider and more voluminous tail than the Bullet V2 (see pics), less nose rocker and softer rails up front (see pic of the head-on nose profile). The lack of rocker and the volume in the tail actually worried me before I tried it downwind. I thought that I’d be dancing backwards and forwards on the board to keep it from pearling. But I was completely wrong. It doesn’t jump onto the plane quite as quickly as board with harder rails throughout tend to, but once it does, it tends to want to sit quite high in the bump rather than shoot down it and clatter into the one in front. This is actually very nice – you don’t have to slow the board down so much with the paddle to stay in the trough. The feeling is of the board just sitting there and kinda getting sucked along by the bump somehow. It is perfectly easy to tail steer (assuming that you have replaced the standard fin with something a bit more manoeuvrable), and changes of direction are pretty quick for a board that is not light. You don’t really feel that weight too much on the water, and it does gives a smoothness to the ride. But perhaps the best feature of its downwind performance is how the board doesn’t stop when it reaches the bump in front. A heavily nose-rockered hard-railed board will tend to clatter into the bump in front and come pretty much to a dead stop, so you have to make sure you don’t. But the Vapor doesn’t seem to stop, but either just hangs there in the trough, or if you poke it, it carries on regardless and recovers well. You can then use this consistent speed to charge over one bump into the one in front if you feel the urge. The good stability and handling of the board helps enormously downwind. I took it downwinding when it was gusting 40 knots (with 6C water and air 5C) and frankly expected to have a bit of a ‘mare of a session. I was taking it out to see what the limits were, really, having already tried it in small stuff. Well, I didn’t fall at all, nor even came close. This really surprised me. I am no expert downwinder, and my balance is distinctly average. On a 26” wide board in confused conditions with gusts of 40 knots I was expecting to be showing Humpty Dumpty a thing or two. But instead I ended up actually overheating because I’d worn so much neoprene in anticipation of falls. Both top speeds and average speeds were very good for the conditions, and most importantly of all, it was huge FUN on this board!

Again, this is a strength of this board. Upwind it is good, although not spectacular. The weight doesn’t help, and this is a fairly flat-rockered board with a snub-nose so it was unlikely to ever be an upwind missile. But it is still pretty good. However, crosswind it is one of the best boards I’ve paddled, and confused water and chop that would unsettle other boards just don’t seem to bother it at all. The soft rounded rails and nose up front mean that the nose can tend to want to weathervane. But it also means that it is quite easy to turn back into the wind (again, a change from the standard fin can help enormously here). If you paddle in choppy and unpredictable waters, you will definitely be wanting to demo this board.

I have instantly fallen in love with this board. It is just so nice to paddle, and in the windy confused choppy conditions I go out in a lot, it makes life very easy. It would be a great ocean race board for choppy seas, and I can imagine that it would fare well for technical surf races too.  And it is a superb downwind board for short period chop (we don’t get Hawaiian style conditions round here so I can’t comment on that). It should also make a great fitness or touring board for inland waters that frequently get windy/choppy  - maybe even  for racing if conditions really get hectic. I’m finding myself choosing to paddle this board in pure flatwater (canals) over my other flat water boards just because there is something nice about paddling it. It has good glide and the stability/width ratio is comforting and easy. But it is downwind and in the sea where most people will want to use it, I guess.

Its nearest competitor in the market is probably the enormously popular SIC Bullet V2. Possibly  also the Starboard All Star\Falcon, but as I’ve already said, maybe these latter boards are tipped slightly more towards flat water racing than the Vapor, which is more oriented towards difficult conditions and downwind (i.e. more like the SIC Bullet V2).  Recent discussions on the forums have revealed huge price differentials across different markets for the Vapor. Here in the UK, the Vapor is priced similarly to the Starboard Hybrid construction All Star, and is massively cheaper than the SIC Bullet V2 in SCC, or the full carbon boards from other manufacturers. IMO the Vapor makes huge sense at the price we have it here, i.e. as a mid-price-range board, and if you are in the market for something like this at that price point I think you really should demo a Vapor. If you live somewhere where the Bullet V2 is a similar price to the Vapor then you have a much harder decision on your hands. The SIC is very much lighter, and there is a lot more carbon there.

Anyway, overall  I can’t praise the Vapor highly enough. It feels like a very sophisticated and finely tuned design. I suspect that many people would like it to be lighter. But then it would be more expensive, and probably more fragile. And it isn’t a pure flat water race machine. But in every other way, really, I’m finding it hard to fault as an everyday all-conditions sled for a general paddling, downwinding, and occasional racing.

Disclaimer: I have no connection to Surftech/Bark, or the Watersports business, and I bought my board from a local retailer just like any other punter.

Prone paddleboard type nose reduces pitching and makes it deal well with cross-chop and winds:

Quite a wide tail with plenty of volume, gives good stability for kick turns and parallel rails that make for good tracking:

Here is the rail width at around the handle:

Hard rails at rear, very soft up front:

Nice fin for flat water tracking, but you might want something with less base width for general ocean work and downwinding:

Lovely smooth nose for ocean work:

Useful deck depression aids stability and gives nice soft edges to rest your feet against in confused waters:

Fairly flat rocker compared with many downwind-capable boards:

Lovely comfortable handle and strap:

Gear Talk / Surftech Bark Downwinder 14ft review
« on: July 19, 2015, 01:52:46 PM »
A while ago, I asked on this forum for some information about the Bark Downwinder 14ft board. I got some helpful replies, but nothing that I found detailed enough to help me make up my mind about whether I’d want to buy one or not. So when me and my downwinding buddies got a chance to demo this board, I thought I’d take some pics and give you our impressions of it.

First some stats. This is the first Surftech Joe Bark downwind board, and it is 14ft long. There’s not much argument about how wide it is supposed to be because Surftech have helpfully inscribed it as being 27.87” wide. A paddle buddy of mine who is a carpenter pointed out that this mixed imperial and decimal units. So, apart from the fact that this value seems optimistically precise given the tolerances of board building, it is a bit odd… I presume what they really meant was 27 inches and 14/16ths,  since 14/16  = 0.87. Maybe something got lost in translation when the dimensions went to the factory in Thailand. However, compared with the loose (and occasionally wildly inaccurate) dimensions quoted by other brands, the precision of the measurement is a refreshing change.

This board comes in Surftech “Pro-Elite” construction only. Basically, this means a foam sandwich in the standing area, with carbon on the bottom and FG everywhere else. The Bark Downwinder seems a little heavier than my old Bark Dominator 14 which was also in pro-elite, so I’m guessing that Surftech have beefed up the construction since the early days. On my home scales, with fin fitted, and a bit damp, the board weighted 30lbs dead. By today’s standards, this is hardly lightweight. But it is usefully lighter than most AST-type constructions, and my paddle buddies and I thought it a good compromise between cost, weight, durability and performance.

It has a marvellous, deep “ledge-style” handle, with the ledge inside being quite smooth and rounded, and the board is perfectly balanced by the handle when the fin it fitted. This means that although the board is no super-lightweight, it is comfortable to carry, and in strong winds it is easy to let the board “fly” to make it easier as you are walking to and from the water, which is particularly important in a board designed for windy conditions.

The fit and finish are marvellous, and Surftech certainly make some other brands’ offerings look a bit shabby by comparison. In fact, we all agreed that in general, although opinions may differ about the use of the orange, this is a beautiful-looking board. The shape is very aesthetically pleasing. It just looks “right”. And it looks fast.

However, I wish they hadn’t used a light-coloured, single colour deck pad (this one is a kind of light grey). It looks good, but isn’t very practical, because it gets dirty very easily. I remember back in the day trying to keep the white deck pads of my 2010-11 Naish DW SUPs clean, and it was a thankless and almost impossible task.

This board is quite a different take on a downwind board from pretty much anything else out there. The tail is a pretty conventional pintail for a downwind board.

But the nose is more pointed than many current downwind shapes, looking like a kind of flat water/ocean hybrid shape.

The Bark Downwinder also has probably less rocker than any board currently available that is aimed directly at the downwind fraternity.  In this picture, the Bark Downwinder is on top of a SIC Bullet 14 V2, which itself is considered a low rocker downwind board.

The deck is interesting. It is not scooped out at all like e.g. the SIC BulletV2. The deck forward of the handle quickly develops a pronounced dome, and this carries forward to the nose, like a scaled-down version of some of Joe’s flat water shapes. This seems to work well in terms of rigidity but it does make the board a little more awkward to load of stack on roof racks, and if the standing area was a little scooped, then stability would probably have been increased.

The fin is a fairly conventional dolphin-type shape.

So, how does it perform? Well, this board totally surprised me. This is the first board that has actually been called a “downwinder” (although other boards have given strong nods that way by using e.g. Maliko as a name), so I was expecting this to be an out-and-out, highly specialized downwind board. But it isn’t at all that, really. What it is, IMO, is an extremely capable all-waters board. The first thing to note is how fast it is in flat water. It isn’t as fast as a dedicated flat water raceboard, but may probably be the closest so far that a downwind board has come to it. It is faster than the SIC Bullet V2 in flat water, and perhaps comparable to e.g. the Naish Glide Mk2, which was surprisingly good in flat water. In perfectly flat water I could average over 6.5 mph for short distances, with peaks around 7.0 mph. These speeds might not seem fast, but bear in mind that I’m just a perfectly ordinary middle-aged recreational paddler who rarely races, so for me, this is very good for a downwind board, since they tend to be very slow in flat water. The reasons for this flat water speed are pretty obvious – flat rocker and soft rails up front with a narrow nose all help give it excellent flat water glide for a board identified as a downwinder. These design features also give it a good turn of speed upwind.

In choppy water the board’s stability is good to very good. It is not quite as stable as the SIC Bullet V2, but it is still very good compared to most boards of comparable width. In cross-winds and cross-chop it copes very well, and the handling is quite neutral and predictable.

In terms of downwind performance, I’ve tried it in a range of conditions from barely catchable ripples in 10 knots in a fairly protected estuary to waist-high confused choppy bumps in the sea in 25 knots. I haven’t tried it in really big stuff (e.g. 45+ knots and shoulder high+ bumps), but my impression so far is that this board probably works best in mild to moderate conditions, probably in the 15-25 knot range with around knee-high bumps. If the conditions are very small, the soft rails at the front mean that it isn’t especially quick to plane, so you do have to work for the bumps – although no more than on many other downwind boards. And in big lumpy stuff the flat rocker and narrow nose means that you have to have deft footwork to avoid pearling. But somewhere between those two extremes, especially if the swell is lined up, you can find a situation where the Bark will just get blown into bumps with you hardly having to paddle at all, and you can find a comfortable mid-point foot position where you hardly have to move. In those conditions it is a very easy and relaxed ride, and the great handling means that it inspires confidence. On the water, the weight it has over uber-light raceboards can actually be a bit of advantage, adding stability, and giving it a very smooth ride indeed.

The board steers well on a bump, and it surfs well too, for a 14fter. It is quite stiff, and a friend of mine who is 6ft 3” tall jumped up and down on it while on a bump and commented that the bounce was less than for many other boards he had tried, and less indeed than his own AST-construction one. So maybe the dome shape of the nose, and the very slight dome to parts of the deck, helps this rigidity. I can imagine it would be a good choice for the larger but agile downwinder.

So, overall, my impression is that perhaps Joe Bark might have called this board something less esoteric than the “Downwinder”. It is much more than that. Its place in the marketplace seems to me to be much more that of an all-water board for those looking for a 14fter that will do everything respectably well. In that sense it is a very capable board indeed, and it is hard to think of many boards out there that are as capable as this one in such a wide range of conditions. I certainly can’t think of any other all-round distance boards that are this pretty. It is a beautiful-looking and well-made mid-priced and mid-weight board that is downwind capable but would double up as a very capable touring board, or even be respectable for the causal racer in mixed-conditions recreational flat water races. I think this is exactly what many recreational paddlers are looking for, especially those that have to cope with choppy and windy conditions quite often. I can imagine it will be very popular with inland water downwinders in particular, and those who like to mix up their downwinding with flat water touring, or who like to surf their 14fters.

So, if you are an absolute downwind fanatic who likes the challenge of uber-narrow boards, takes part in serious open ocean races, and can afford to have a quiver of boards for every water state, then this board is probably *not* aimed at you. That doesn't matter, because you will probably already own three custom SICs. But if instead you are an intermediate to semi-serious paddler who wants a lot of bang for your buck, likes stability, and is looking for a board that will cope well with most conditions you are likely to encounter, including, but not restricted to, downwinding, then this should definitely be on your list of boards to demo IMO. My downwind buddies and I really like it.

Disclaimer: I have no connection to Surftech or any commercial tie to any other aspect of the watersports business. I pay for my boards just like any ordinary punter.

Gear Talk / SIC F16 vs. Bullet 17-4
« on: April 17, 2015, 08:02:09 AM »
For what conditions, or riders, is the F16 a better choice than the Bullet 17-4?

Gear Talk / Starboard Astro deluxe maximum pressure?
« on: April 10, 2015, 04:13:00 AM »
I've recently bought a Starboard Astro Tandem 16ftx32". It's hilarious paddling with two people, and when the paddlers co-ordinate their strokes it is surprisingly fast. After just a couple of hours' practice yesterday, my friends and I were able to go faster on the tandem than we could on our raceboards alone. And there is something very satisfying about working together as a team. I can imagine multi- person SUPs being a growth area for flat water.

Anyway, I've got the board pumped up to the recommended max of 18 PSI. The board is 6" thick. But there is some banana in the rocker with two people on board, even two who are only around 150lbs each. It's not a huge amount of bend, but it would be better with less, obviously.

So I'm wondering what pressures people have tried with their Starboard Astros. I know that with ULI boards, people have pumped their up way higher than the recommended pressures with no ill effects. But I think those were double-skin construction.

So, how high would you dare to go? This board costs about 2000 US dollars in this country so it wouldn't be great if it went "pop".

Gear Talk / Surftech Bark Downwinder board
« on: November 03, 2014, 02:35:45 AM »
Has anyone tried the new Suftech Bark Downwinder board (14x28" with tri fin setup)?

Given that it is on sale now, and in the 2015 Surftech catalog, there's a staggering lack of real info on it out there in webland. Interesting shape from what little I can see. So I'm hoping someone here has ridden one downwind and can compare it to other established DW boards.

Gear Talk / SIC Bullet 14 V1 vs. V2
« on: May 04, 2014, 12:47:24 PM »
Has anyone out there ridden both the V1 and V2 production Bullet 14s?

I think I know what to expect in terms of DW performance. But how do they compare in terms of stability and flat water speed?

Is the V2 fast enough in flat water to be close in speed to some displacement nose raceboards?

I have a Bullet V1 and I'm trying to work out if it's worth getting a V2 as well. I won't have any chance to demo.

Random / You think you charge hard?
« on: October 21, 2013, 04:27:47 AM »
He's his dad's son all right, and a reminder of another - more entertaining - era. Gotta love him!

Jacques Villeneuve: Too Fast For NASCAR

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