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When I first got into paddleboarding, the allround SUP (which is basically an oversized longboard surfboard) was the popular choice. It gave you a cool ride as you felt like you were ‘surfing’ and that you belonged to the surf culture and were part of the surf lifestyle.
However, on the other side of the coin were displacement hull SUPs or touring or race SUPs. They were these funny looking pointy kayak type boards that you couldn’t really surf and it looked as those you were standing on a kayak.
SUPs in general were frowned upon for surfers – that is until you tried one – and once you gave it a go, you were hooked. In my case, it was a last resort to purchase a SUP, a decision tipped by the will to survive the Great Lakes flat spells. Paddleboarding can get you over the hump physically and mentally and it was a welcome relief to feel the glide and be on the water.
For the first few years of my SUP career, I stuck to my guns and paddled on surf SUPs and allround SUPs. Grant and I even paddled from Hamilton to Toronto twice on allrounders for the SUP4MS! That’s about 65km of chugging, meandering, correcting and plowing along. We did max out the limits on all round SUPs we can say that for sure.
Finally I tried a displacement hull board; a Jimmy Lewis Slice 12’6 race board. Wow, what a difference! Now I was really gliding and I didn’t have to switch sides every few strokes. It was not a ‘surfboard’ but it felt amazing though I wondered what my surf mates would think of me now…
From that moment on, I got into SUP racing 14’ boards to keep fit and have less friction on the water. Most times when I go out for a flat water paddle with friends or am teaching lessons, I am on a displacement hull board. You can’t beat the way these boards cut and slice through the water on the flats or in choppy conditions. Occasionally I’ll take out the 8’ or 9’ surf SUP for a spin, pun intended, but it leaves me craving the long flowing grace of the touring style board.
At the shop customers believe that race or touring boards are less stable than the allrounder because of their looks and reputation for being tippy. However, aside from the elite race boards, most models are NOT unstable at all and are quite the contrary. If you’re a beginner, we’ll find you a touring board that’s as stable or more stable than an allround board.
Race or touring boards also come with the stigma of being only for those paddlers who want to go fast or who are training for races or who are incredible athletes extremely serious about paddling. But this isn’t the case; race boards, touring boards, displacement hull boards - whatever you want to call them -are for everyone.
We also highly recommend them for the youngsters because it helps them go straighter and eliminates the early frustration kids feel when they start to spin around on an allround SUP.
The green board below is a 9'6 kids 'race' SUP. It even floats me (165lbs) and is stable for most pre-teen kids.
So I’ll admit, I thought race boards weren’t very cool but I now realize what I was missing and all I can do is recommend one and spread the displacement hull stoke. Give one a shot - you won’t regret it!
Can you relate to this experience? Drop us a line in the comments below.