SUP race is a great way to make stand up paddle boarding more exciting. If you intend to participate in a game, there are a lot of preparations to do and among all those things, making sure you have the right SUP board for the race is of great importance. If you haven’t been in a SUP race before, you might not know that there is actually a lot to learn about SUP race and raceboards. In this post, I’ll show you how to pick the right raceboard for yourself.
When it comes to choosing the right SUP board for a SUP race, there are mainly 3 aspects to take into consideration. The first thing to know is the difference between different race classes. Second thing is to understand if the SUP race board you want to get is practical to you. And the last thing to know is the performance difference between different boards.
Difference between different classes
If you haven’t gotten into a SUP race before, you probably wouldn’t pay much attention to or know anything about classes in SUP races. It’s actually pretty easy to understand. Race boards are categorized by the maximum length and design. Boards of up to 12’6 and 14’ are two major classes. There’s also the unlimited class which refers to boards that are longer than 14’ or boards with a rather peculiar design compared to the normal boards of other classes. Also, inflatable paddle boards are commonly seen in SUP races and we believe more and more people would go with inflatables after the crazy boom in the inflatables popularity this summer during the pandemic. People also use surf shapes or touring boards. They are not the most ideal choice for a SUP race but if you just want to try racing and don’t currently have a paddle board for SUP racing, a touring board is actually an acceptable choice. There are other types of raceboards and above is just a brief introduction to some major choices among paddlers.
How practical is your raceboard?
The practicality of a race board is important to certain people. For example, if you don’t have enough space to store it in your house or it’s not convenient for you to transport it, then you might consider getting an inflatable SUP board or a shorter board that would allow you to store and transport it easily without taking up much space.
Other than the storage and transportation problem, another thing to take into consideration is where you will be training and where you will be racing. There’s no guarantee that the places you train and race have the same conditions and sometimes you can’t have a board that can fit both places equally nicely. If you train mostly on calm waters like lakes or rivers but race in places like the ocean which has choppy water, it’s hard to find a board that’s good for both places. If you choose a narrow board, it’s going to have faster speed and glide performance which can give you better performance during a race, but it’s not particularly comfortable for casual paddling on calm water since it’s not as stable as a wider board. So our advice is that if you paddle on calm water most of the time and only race occasionally, go for a wider board that can give you a more comfortable and enjoyable experience on calm water. But if you intend to race a lot, it’s definitely worth investing in a narrow board that has better performance on the water.
Think about what you want in the long term
Think about what you want to do in the long term with your SUP board. Most paddlers take paddle boarding as a way of relaxation or exercise to keep fit. Also, it’s a great way to spend time and bond with friends and family for certain people. But there are paddlers who take SUP races very seriously and would try their best each time they are in a game. Think about what kind of paddler you are and choose your board accordingly. If the paddleboard you choose is mostly for casual paddling, there’s no reason to get a long and narrow board that’s going to make casual paddling unnecessarily hard and uncomfortable. A long, narrow, and performance-oriented board is only a good choice when you are going to be participating in SUP races a lot. It’s worth spending time and figuring out what kind of SUP activities you are most interested in and will be doing most of the time. Now that stand up paddle boarding is popular, there are a lot of different kinds of SUP boards you can find and it’s not hard to find a board that can suit different needs nicely. If you have the time, it’s worth spending time doing researches into these kinds of boards to find the one board that can give you the best of both worlds.
Differences between performance
In this part, you should be thinking about if you prefer a board that excels at one aspect and use that board for all SUP activities and races or an all-around board that fits for all activities and races but won’t be able to provide you with the highest level of performance in those activities and games.
Also, you need to know what size boards are most used in the SUP races you want to compete in. In certain areas, female paddlers mostly compete in the 12’6 class rather than the 14’ class while male paddlers mostly participate in the 14’ class. But there’s no telling if and when the trend will change. So there’s no need to get frustrated and get a new one immediately even if you don’t get the most popular board in the local SUP races. And certain types of SUP boards are more popular in one area than others, and if you are going to be participating in a lot of these games, you probably won’t stick to one place. So even if your board is not popular in one area, it might turn out to be the best board for another region. You can always go online to find out what kind of board is most popular in your area before actually buying one.
Picking a raceboard is just like picking your daily SUP board, you need to take your size and weight into consideration. It’s not a good idea to just directly get what all other paddlers are buying without giving it much thought. You need to understand your own pros and cons and know your limitations. When buying a raceboard, the most important thing is always about finding the board that suits you best. For example, if you get a board that’s too low in volume, you won’t have enough buoyancy or flotation to achieve higher performance. One of the most important aspects of the board is its stability. If you get a board that’s stable when you ride on it, it might not be the best choice but at least you know it’s not the worst either. Make sure your board is stable when you paddle on it, and then consider its performance. With a stable board, you are able to paddle with full power, which is more important than simply getting the fastest board possible because it might be too advanced and you are not yet able to use it to its fullest. So if you are not particularly good at balancing, it’s totally fine to get a board that’s one inch or two wider than what other people are using. But also remember to avoid buying a board that’s too safe. When you are making progression, balancing on the board will get easier and you might be bored with the current board and want to move on to a new board. A paddleboard that’s too safe could limit your performance on the water. So if possible, try and find a SUP board that’s neither too advanced nor too safe. It’s always easier said than done but once you find that board, it’s going to save you a lot of time, energy and money.
In conclusion, what you need to know when buying a raceboard includes what board class you want to compete in, whether or not it’s easy for you to store and transport it, your future goal, and the right size for your height and weight and balance it with performance. In the last few years, stand up paddle boarding has seen significant growth in popularity and now there are a lot of huge SUP events in the world. If you think you have the right skill set for a SUP race, don’t hesitate to give it a try.