Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Perfect Board - taking stock

It's very simple - I want the perfect board. I want the board that will give me MOST of what I want in a single board and this post is going to be a bit of a brainstorming of the characteristics and traits that I like and dislike in the boards that I have and have ridden.

I should say that anything on this blog is entirely my opinion, thoughts and musings it is not intended to suggest or promote one board over another it's merely my path, my journey.

I know that my idea of perfection is going to be personal to me, like my surf style and the waves that I get. If I'm honest I'd probably admit that next year my idea of 'perfection' will change, hell I'm not even sure that what I want exists in a single board! But the more boards I have and ride the closer I think I'm getting. So here's a list of the pro's and cons of the boards that I have had experience of so far.

In chronological order.

Jimmy Lewis 11' - My first board - you've just got to love it.

Pros -

easy to learn on - stable and could actually be surfed. Accelerates quickly with the paddle and glides nicely, I also felt that the build and finish was excellent - mine is still in mint condition and I still take it out from time to time.

Cons -

It's huge - like a big thing that's VERY pleased to see you - it's light but carrying it is a mare. It's surfs well but for me my surfing is not going to progress on it and it has to go on the van roof - I'll never take it on a plane - did I mention it's BIG!

ULI 11' - My first inflatable SUP - you've just got to love it.

Pros -

Fun Fun Fun - packable - super tough - comfy - (my heels don't get sore) - different - can be surfed with a slight technique adjustment - paddles very VERY fast - did I say fun - has the 'ULI bounce' - carryable - complete.

Cons -

None really - Large when inflated - maybe not quite as surfy in sheer performance terms - the ULI Bounce can cause a pearl or two - a bit heavy maybe??

C4 10'6 - Demo'd a couple of times - seems like a long time ago.

Pros -

Very surfable - felt fast and loose on a wave and could 'drop in' easily. portable. Sort of deep down think it's worth revisiting in place of the Jimmy.

Cons -

Me! - I was not ready for it - and did not give it enough time - it felt twitchy and unstable at rest fine when moving.

Starboard Extremist 9'8" - beautiful fat fish - spent most time on this board. You've just got to love it.

Pros -

Easy to acclimatize to - very stable at rest and under paddle - surfs incredibly well - took my surfing to a whole new level - absolutely makes the best of MOST wave conditions - can 'go late and steepish' - light weight - turns in front of an oncoming wave sooo easily - nose rides - looks good - small - fits in the van - sort of easy to carry - see cons.

Cons -

Nothing really - all minor but having spent most time on this board, and in the hunt for perfection here goes - not the fastest paddler - big fat nose means busting through white water has to be bang on 90' to the bow - needs to be paddled directly into a wave can't be slid in sideways - last paddle stroke needs to be with the wave rather than into it due to the yaw (make sense??)- sometimes in steeper sections I sort of 'hang up' on the face and I'm off - not really sure what's happening but I think that it's the width causing the outside rail to dig in. - Carrying it - how can they put a handle in and just make it too damn shallow? Dings easy - price you pay for performance - I'd still do it again - see you did ask where the hell did that lot come from.

Starboard Extremist 9' - beautiful fat fish - only tried a few times.

Pros -

It's 9' for Gods sakes it's only 9' - there's me 14 - 14 1/2 stone 196-200lbs and it floats me fine - it's so light - and on a wave its super loose - more full on surfable.

Cons - Same as the 9'8" but for me I feel that there is a lot more Yaw than it's bigger brother having said that every time I ride it I think this is the board I should have gone for (is that a con?).

ULI 10' Steamroller - My second Inflatable SUP - You should know by know how much I love these puppies - That's my actual board in the picture along with Jesse, Jim and Chris from ULI 24 hours before I receive it in the UK - these guys take it and make it personal.

Pros -

Fun Fun Fun - packable - super tough - comfy - (my heels don't get sore) Surfs indecently well (with a slight change in Technique) - you read it all above.

Cons -

Not having it around at times - I miss it.

C4 BK Pro 10' - Insane I love it - I hate it - I love it etc etc . . I love it!!

Pros -

I want to surf this board always - once on a wave this is 'the one' It is the NEO of all the boards that I have ridden even surfboards - its clairvoyant - it goes where I think - its the best surfboard that I've ever had. It paddles straight (honestly it does) - It can drop sideways very late into a wave - at any point I feel that 'I'm going to make it' - It can be carried easily - it's got loads of fin options (is that good?) - it's nose beats through, up and over white water so easily. I love it. And breathe.

Cons -

I fall off of it, regularly - the board makes me nervous - I always think that conditions are going to be too choppy for me to stay on it, so I've started taking two boards with me - it has to be kept paddling to stay on it - it's so tippy my calf's ache for days after a session on it - it's bloody hard work, physically and mentally - this board challenges me and I know that I'm never going to be good enough for it - I wish I could have discovered it before I was 15 not three years before 50 - Every two hour session on this board starts off 'Hero' (hero in a small fatboyway)and ends up a knackered 'Zero'. It's an insatiable mistress I hate it - I love it.

So naively, what I want is a slightly more stable version of the BK pro maybe 28 - 28 1/2" - Up to 10' is fine - but not more - Pulled nose with plenty of rocker - 2 plus 1 or Quad setup, not more than 4" thick and either the swallow tail or rounded pin.

One things for sure, sadly the Jimmy Lewis is going to have to go - and maybe the Starboard and ultimately maybe the C4, but not the Uli's they are just too much fun.

Surely the Steamroller can't be my perfect board - having said that if I had to choose just one board, for ever it would be the 10' ULI no doubt. - But I don't so come on guys if you are reading this chip in with some suggestions - where to next? And if you are in the UK do you fancy a swap with a Jimmy Lewis?


Anonymous said...

Hi there,

I'm from France, Les Sables d'Olonne (you know the place...just south of Bretignolles where you've been!)

Really nice reviews !
I've been riding a Gong NFA 12' for over a year and a Starboard 9'8" tufskin camo for a month, now.
With a longtime surfing background (both short and longboarding), I really love to take my 9'8" to the surf and as I'm only 72 kgs. the thing also floats me enough to go paddling and fishing when it's flat.
Next move will be to sell my 12' Gong and buy a Uli...probably an 11' as I want to take my son with me.
Did you get yours directly from the factory?
Here in France, the C4 Rep sells them for 1750€ I was trying to find a better deal!

Keep paddling!


NC Paddle Surfer said...

How did the quad setup work on the C4? Was it faster and more snappy?

csx355 said...

Hi Denis - I love that part of France and should be returning for a 'Boys Surf Trip' in October when we will spend a day or two in the area - I bought my ULI direct - with the import duty and postage it work out about the same as your guy wants - it's worth it.

Hi Dwight - so far I've fitted and tried a huge centre fin - smaller centre fin and now, although I have fitted a Quad set up have not taken it out yet. Have to pick my conditions - clean, offshore with a bit of punch. Thats how borderline I am.

Thanks for the comments.

Anonymous said...

CSX355, thanks for your reply !

Don't forget to drop an email before your trip, in October...I'll be glad to surf and drink a pint with you guys.

See you

Denis (