Most people start supping on 150+ liter boards and as you get more stoked of wavesupping, downsizing is the first step to get the shortboard-feeling and make the next step in your personal sup-development. As we had our trip to Brandon Bay planned, I decided to setup a test-format, just to give all people who are thinking of downsizing some insights. All ‘test-pilots’ are more or less ‘experienced’ suppers who just downsized on their sups, riding their second or third sup after starting the sport.
Pic by Zuke van Ingen. Location: Coumeenole beach, Slea Head.
Our location was Brandon Bay in the southwest of Ireland with a lot of spots within an hour drive. Test-conditions were great, varying from choppy almost impossible to sup double-overhead at Slea Head to glassy waisthigh on Dumps. The biggest thrill we had took place on two spots. Inch Reef, a famous point break that worked wonderfully with rides up to 250m in overhead-waves and on Three Peaks, with the same size waves, three great clean A-frames next to each other.
We had 5 boards in our test as we own the board ourselves. We also had some testsups but they were not in our testrange except for the SB Widepoint 8’2″ but as we already have the SB Pocket Rocket we decided to stick to the other boards. Maybe some experiences on the other sups will follow later or in the comments below. Our boards were; Starboard Pocket Rocket , Hobie 8’11″RAW , Coreban Vibe 8’0″ , Sailboards Tarifa Solo Wave 8’3″ and a Naish Hokua 9,5 , follow the links to find the specs on the websites of the different brands. As we’re not a professional testteam, we switched boards, gave it our first opinion and feel, not with the ambition to be as objective as possible but just by describing our first connection with the boards and shout out some one liners. As you can see in the pic below we made remarks on a couple of characteristics we considered to be interesting to you, just to get an image on the feeling of the board. We could add a description of each board but since all those information is provided on the websites above, we just stic to our experiences. All the boards are well-built and carbon is lighter compared to wood, we think monoconcave is more useful compared to doubleconcave and thin rails grip better than thick rails but hey, it’s about the feeling….
Stability as its one of the frustrating factors if you just can’t keep your balance and keep falling in. As stability is something you get used to as your body needs time to adapt, the remarks we made are based on our first experience stepping on the board and paddling out. As bigger boards have more Glide, smaller boards need glide to paddle with the wave and simply catch more waves when you’re not exactly at the right spot. Speed is something you experience when on the wave, feeling the board accelerate and giving you the feeling of going fast. Maneuverability and Looseness are different characteristics as some of the boards need some power to carve them into any carve you want (like the Hobie) others are loose (Coreban Vibe) but loose some precision in the turns. Tracking is handy when paddling back to the line-up but also when catching waves as it’s easier to catch a wave making 3 strokes without turning then less. Last of course, does the board make you happy? And just because of that strong feeling, we added Joy and Accesability.
SB Pocket Rocket (2 and 1): Nice and easy acces to your first shortsup, stable and easy to catch waves.
Coreban Vibe (Quad): Party board when on the wave, very alive but you have to be on the right spot to catch a wave.
Hobie RAW (Thruster): Get a wide stance and carve snowboardstyle, fast and precise.
ST Solo Wave (Thruster): Easy accessible and very stable, quad-setup would probably make it more loose.
Naish Hokua (2 and 1): Despite its volume of 140l, very alive due to the thin rails and more radical as you would expect.
Our first conclusion is a dilemma; to get the best shortboard-feeling it’s impossible not to make compromises. Our second conclusion is that fin-setup can make a huge difference and you can change the behavior of a board almost completely. So, once you get to know your board with the standardfins in the middle position, get yourself some extra fins as a birthday-present and feel the differences (FCS has some great information on fin-technology on their website). Our last conclusion is more of an advice as we experienced the following: volume is not directly connected to stability. As you get better you’ll probably end up with a board exactly in balance with your bodyweight. The tail of the board will be under water and the board will be less infuenced by sidechop, which is usually the balance-killer. You will be able to use the board not only in superclean conditions but much more often and still have a board that is loose, fast and a joy to ride. With my weight of 88 kg, the final volume will be between 114-120 liters with a width of around 29″-30″ and a length of about 8’5″. In cleaner conditions smaller is possible.
Mahalo, and enjoy your TOW!
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