Author Topic: The fun of unlimited boards  (Read 45920 times)

surf4food

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The fun of unlimited boards
« on: May 11, 2016, 06:32:02 PM »
Interesting article by Travis Grant.  http://www.supracer.com/travis-grant-unlimited-stand-up-paddle-boards-are-fun/

I still can't get over the pure illogic that the unlimited class has all but disappeared.  It just makes no sense that the fastest class (in most conditions) draws such little interest.  I get the storage and transport issue (I'm an apartment dweller and can only do inflatables) but that's doesn't seem to be a problem for OC1s, surfskis, kayaks etc. so it shouldn't be for boards over 15 feet.

SUPflorida

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Re: The fun of unlimited boards
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2016, 08:37:22 AM »
From a practical sense it can't seem to come out ahead when the advantages vs disadvantages are lined up side by side.
1) SUP in inherently a slow sport... If you want to go fast SUP is not the vehicle.
2) Great downwind conditions with a groomed swell/high winds/warm water/easy entry & exit are probably about as rare as great surf breaks.
3) With all do respect to the fun of down winding...A empty Dixie cup can blow down wind without an issue. I hear the 17 bullet is a bear upwind.
4) Most people are not retired/trustfund babies/independently wealthy/sponsored riders(God bless them, I would love to be in their ranks). We go where we can, when we can. Flat or chop, wind or calm, current or no current. More often than not at least half the time on the water is going up wind and/or up current...sometimes both at the same time.
5) Time is a precious commodity that is stretched between family/Job/ and other priorities. Anything that adds a extra hassle factor in loading/unloading/ storage/moving around on land without damage is going to be naturally avoided. Add significant wind, and taking off/putting on a 17' 35 lb+ board on a car/truck is a two person operation.
6) The majority of athletic people, or people in general, that are going to gleem a noticeable advantage is small. The average male is around 190...female 145...those who are serious athletes are probably ligter in relation to their height. While I am all for the 200+ guy getting a board that better suits them, for the under 175 lb club it might be (at best) a zero sum game for everyday paddling.

Right now I'm doing a 100 hr in 100 days paddle challenge. Having the ability to just slide my 14' in the back of my long bed truck makes for a spur of the moment paddle doable on a tight schedule. It reminds me of how true the statement: "The easier it is to use, the more you tend to use it; the more hassle it is to use, the less you use it."

We all have toys of every description sitting and collecting dust...we were real excited about them at first...But somewhere along the line it became more trouble than it was worth to use them.

If you own a unlimited, and don't live in Hawaii, what percentage of you paddle time do you actually spend on your unlimited compared to your other boards?

With all that said...If you have the time/money/conditions/need/space by all means go for it and enjoy...
« Last Edit: May 12, 2016, 09:33:23 AM by SUPflorida »

PDLSFR

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Re: The fun of unlimited boards
« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2016, 10:21:32 AM »

If you own a unlimited, and don't live in Hawaii, what percentage of you paddle time do you actually spend on your unlimited compared to your other boards?


I agree with SUPflorida that unlimited boards are great if you have the capacity to use it often, we have a few guys here in Southern NE that have unlimited boards and other than the occasional race you barely see them out (and even some of the local races are now eliminating a class for boards over 14'). We also don't have that many opportunities for true downwinders here, so that almost takes a ton of the fun out of the equation. But if you have the space, money, and use for one....go for it.
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atlanticsup

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Re: The fun of unlimited boards
« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2016, 12:01:49 PM »
I have both a unlimited (SIC 17'4") and a 14 ft downwind board. I agree that the unlimited are just fun for downwinding - the glide is incredible whether light downbreezer or heavy 25knot+, even short or long period, etc etc.

I think when one heads for 10mile + downwinding, then unlimited are in a class of their own.

For me its not a storage issue, or transport, but because they are such expensive boards vs the 14ft, I tend to baby it (it needs to have 2x the life of my 14ft), and still only use it 30% of the time for downwinders. So during the week, I prefer leaving the 14ft on the roof rack.

I certainly hope more manufacturers or local shapers have a go at unlimited but with SIC dominating, and Hawaii the only place unlimited have taken off it may take time
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surf4food

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Re: The fun of unlimited boards
« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2016, 12:08:12 PM »
SUPFlorida and PDLSFR, everything you guys are saying I get.  Like I stated I am an apartment dweller so I donít even have room for a 10 foot hard board.  Inflatables it is (along with three regular surfboards, two long and one hybrid).  That being said, all the examples your giving (storage space, transportability, cost, other commitments) does not seem to be a factor with surfskis, OCs, ocean kayaks, etc. so why with unlimited SUPs?  I demoed a couple of them here in San Diego on Mission Bay and I gotta say, it was amazing, even in windless flat-water.  Even though I personally donít have the room and transportability, I know plenty of other people do.   Note the examples of other craft I listed.  As far as transport, most people can put a rack system on their vehicle that will work perfectly well.  You guys are probably right but I just canít wrap my head around it. 

covesurfer

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Re: The fun of unlimited boards
« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2016, 01:16:58 PM »
For the conditions that I paddle in here in Maui, it makes complete sense to own a 17' rudder board. It's the board of choice here for downwind, although there are more than a handful of folks riding 14's and doing very well on them.

When I lived in the Gorge, and if I were to do so again in the future, it is unlikely that I would paddle a board bigger than a 14'. The vast majority of competitive paddlers ride 14's there and it's a board class that works very well for the conditions. I'd sure want to keep my OC1, in spite of the inconvenience of transport, handling and storage.

When I lived in the PNW, and long before retirement and standup paddling, I owned an 18 foot sea kayak that I paddled regularly, usually as soon as I got home from work. I had a lot of paddles that ended in the dark, especially in the Fall every year. For me, I think it's less about the inconvenience of a long boat or board and more about what works well and what all your paddle partners are on, both day-to-day and at the races.

Eagle

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Re: The fun of unlimited boards
« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2016, 01:45:51 PM »
While the Bullet 17.4 is a fantastic DW board - it just is not a nice board to paddle upwind - or even crosswind with steering.  So that immediately makes the board very conditions specific.  For something like an UL Sprint - that board is fast but is just too much of a hassle to bring down to the water.  On top of that - you would be paddling by yourself in distance glide mode most of the time.

Whereas for a 14 you are paddling what most others are on - so your speeds are much closer.  The 14s are simply much easier to handle and paddle in changing conditions.  Much more maneuverable and versatile.  What we do with our 4 boards is purposefully rotate using them - so that we can appreciate the differences and nuances.  In rough conditions especially - that really helps with improving our balance.  Using a flat water board for DW really changes up your perspective - and forces you to get out of your comfort zone.

So would like to have UL boards - but just do not see using them enough to justify keeping them.  They are however near impossible to beat in their respective power zones.
Fast is FUN!   8)
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SUPflorida

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Re: The fun of unlimited boards
« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2016, 03:43:33 PM »
When I lived in the PNW, and long before retirement and standup paddling, I owned an 18 foot sea kayak that I paddled regularly, usually as soon as I got home from work. I had a lot of paddles that ended in the dark, especially in the Fall every year. For me, I think it's less about the inconvenience of a long boat or board and more about what works well and what all your paddle partners are on, both day-to-day and at the races.

 Covesurfer ....I did the same every afternoon for years with my 18' surfski. I was single at the time and self employed...and only lived two blocks from my launch site.
Since I make my boards, an unlimited would not be a big deal cost wise. It just seem the larger I go...from 8'-4" to 12'-6" to now 14' I start loosing that "walking on water feeling." When I'm in howling upwind conditions with my 14...and it a fight to keep the board from getting blown off course, it always reminds me how much worse it could be with another 3 or 4' of board to deal with. With close period cross chop there is plenty to deal with without adding a rudder into the mix.

You hear how great a 17' board is for downwind but are they a viable option for day to day multi condition use? I can only speak for myself, but if a board can only go down wind its essentially it not going to function in my real world conditions  as I'm going upwind at least half the time I'm on the water.

If I was Pono's size I would build one in a New York minute, but at 160-165 I probably fall right in the sweet spot of the 14.


Area 10

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Re: The fun of unlimited boards
« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2016, 05:24:16 PM »
It's often mentioned by UL board advocates that UL boards are "safer", because the rudder helps you to paddle cross wind.

This puzzles me, because it hasn't been my experience at all. What strength of wind do you think that a rudder allows you to paddle at 90 degrees without having to only paddle on one side?

Also, the big drawback of ULs with rudders in many parts of the world is weed and other debris. If your rudder gets broken then you really are in a pickle: not "safe" at all.

Travis's article is no doubt co-ordinated time-wise with the availability of his DC UL boards in many markets in the world.

But I'd be very pleased to her from anyone who has one of these NSP DC 17-10s. They seem to be very good value compared with eg. the SICs. But what is the construction like? How much do they weigh? The weights seem to be a closely guarded secret, which doesn't seem like a good sign.

But maybe I'm too cynical. The NSP 17-10 boards look a lovely shape for sure. I'd be interested to know how they go in flat water.

surf4food

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Re: The fun of unlimited boards
« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2016, 05:51:38 PM »
Okay so are OCs and surfskis better for upwind than ULs?  If so, due to lower center of gravity? 

PonoBill

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Re: The fun of unlimited boards
« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2016, 06:05:34 PM »
If the choice that was made for everyone had been 12 feet we'd have everyone explaining how it was the most logical size and there really isn't a good reason for anything longer. So much easier to store. Less expensive, easy to ship. !4' boards would be rare, since they'd be unlimited.

I never hear anyone who races surfskis or OC's explaining how difficult it is to manage and store their boat, and yet they are substantially bigger, more fragile, more difficult to launch and retrieve. My point is simply that these responses reflect the status quo, not some logical or experiential set of reasons why longer boards aren't desirable.

In the short period swell of the Gorge, with the wind directly at your back, a 14' board works fine. But the reason 14 feet is the standard for the Gorge is NOT because they are the best board for the conditions. It's because of the race classes. The fact that we have strict race classes sets the standard that everyone accepts. Some people wanted to take everything a step further, make the boards shorter and limit the width. Talk about a buzz-kill.  We don't know what the best length is for various aspects of the sport, it's been mandated. With the single exception of open ocean downwind, where unlimiteds rule and the natural standard has become 16 to 18 feet.

If the ideal board for you was 15' X 24" then you will never know that. If you were crazy enough to have the perfect board for you built custom, you couldn't race it. It's an odd thing to have happen in such a young sport, but it is what it is. Like it or lump it. Travis is right, these boards are fun. For me, 14's are a waste of time. I've had a dozen or so, still have four or five. They hang on the wall. No interest. I'll get rid of them this year even if I just find kids to give them to.

I don't know about unlimited being safer. I do know that if the wind line is a mile out and it's shoving towards Tahiti, that I'd rather have a rudder than not. Most rudder boards today have a pin so you can lock the rudder if the mechanism breaks. The folks who know what they are doing are just as safe taking an outside line on a fixed fin board on an offshore day--we don't lose any of them. But the folks with rudders have more fun, because they can still play with the swells while the fixed fin people have to grind away and always turn into the
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surf4food

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Re: The fun of unlimited boards
« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2016, 06:34:56 PM »
I never hear anyone who races surfskis or OC's explaining how difficult it is to manage and store their boat, and yet they are substantially bigger, more fragile, more difficult to launch and retrieve.

Yep.  Exactly. 

Area 10

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Re: The fun of unlimited boards
« Reply #12 on: May 12, 2016, 06:44:42 PM »
Ok, I'll ask it again: at what wind strength can a 17-18ft board with a rudder run at 90 degrees to the wind direction, by using the rudder?

I ask because with my 17, the rudder does pretty much diddly squat for quartering wind and waves. There's not much a little 9" x 5" bit of rudder is going to do against the leverage acting upon a 17ft board in choppy seas. But then I see from a lot of people's videos that their idea of 30 knots is not the same as mine, and the effect of 30 knots on a body of water 100ft+ deep is very different to that upon a body of water that is less than 20ft deep. So maybe if I were in Hawaii a rudder would allow me to run at 90 degrees to the wind just fine. ????

SUPflorida

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Re: The fun of unlimited boards
« Reply #13 on: May 12, 2016, 07:20:51 PM »
Rudder apparently works well in most big ocean swells...I can't see dealing with it in 2 , 2-1/2' foot close period chop when even a 14' is coping with 3 or 4 crests along the length of the board...at the same time.

Hey...it was my day off, had time to make up on my challenge so I did an upwind grinder. Went as far as I could (5 miles) until the wind picked up to the point I started losing ground while paddling flat out. As a sailor I always head up wind first because no one wants to do the "walk of shame". Definitely glad I did that day.

Pono, I get your point about the arbitrary line drawn in the sand for these two established lengths. But somewhere along the bell curve there is a body weight that is going to be optimized for a 14...who that is I don't know...obviously you have come to the conclusion its definetly not you🤔

Eagle

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Re: The fun of unlimited boards
« Reply #14 on: May 12, 2016, 07:22:09 PM »
Many round here have to pay to leave their surfskis at a Club.  Others leave them at home in their garage or even spare bedroom.  It is quite inconvenient for many due to size.  So yeah some do definitely complain about how huge they are - and how much space they take up.  Not many we know just pop them on their car like a 14 SUP.  But if you like to get one just get one.  Everyone has their own preferences is all - and they simply work around any problems that arise.

Paddling at 90 degrees in just 15 kts of breeze is very difficult with the Bullet 17.4.  You have the rudder on full and paddle only on one side.  It is not the most comfortable because you are forced to a certain standing position dealing with waves hitting you broadside.  At about 45 degrees DW you are ok quartering.
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