It's great fun to compete on SUP boards during a SUP race. In preparation for a game, you have a lot to do, and one of the most important things is to ensure you have the right Race SUP.
It might surprise you that SUP races and race boards offer a lot to people who have never participated in one. This post aims to help you pick the right race board for your needs.
Various reasons inspire people to paddle board - from getting in shape to spending time with loved ones to exploring new places or meeting a community of paddle boarders who share the same passion.
You can improve your overall health and get fit by getting involved in SUP racing. Racing paddle boards is challenging and offers endless learning opportunities. Athletes from other sports also enjoy paddle boarding because it feeds their competitive nature. Many people enter SUP races recreationally. Whatever your reason for wanting to get involved, hopefully, this beginner's guide will convince you to learn more about SUP racing.
Race Board Sizes, Shapes, and Features
Generally, specialized race boards come to lengths that correspond to the racing class. Racing at 12'6" is most common, followed by racing at 14'.
You'll go faster on a 14' board, but you'll also be racing against other paddlers on 14' boards, so owning a 12'6" board will not give you an advantage over another paddler on an equal-length board.
Many racers prefer boards 28 inches wide, like Wowsea Swift S2 Inflatable Paddle Board, because they don't want to push their stability to its limits. While a 26-inch board will be faster, it will be more challenging to balance on flat water and even more challenging in choppy water.
Some inflatable race models use carbon fiber stiffening bars and side battens, and some also feature stringer belts and nose cones added by Starboard. As these systems add cost, weight, complexity, and fragile parts, it's important to consider their costs and benefits concerning your actual needs and budget.
Depending on the board's shape, it can have a flat tail, a rounded tail, and a curved outline. Using both shapes equally well is possible, but you should avoid getting too narrow at the nose if you intend to paddle with a passenger.
With a wider and more stable touring board (30-32 inches), it can double as a race board, especially for heavier riders or in choppy conditions. It is more cost-effective to purchase a touring board than a racing board because it can be used for diverse purposes.
Race Board Fin Set Ups
Race boards should have only one US fin box because a single center fin has the minimum drag of all fin configurations. A single US fin box can accommodate several fins that meet US fin box specifications.
Choosing the right fin shape and size and moving the fin forward or backward can help tune performance. Wowsea offers a Bolt lock fin system in their racing SUPs, making it a perfect choice for users.
Due to the addition of side fins, touring boards with three fin boxes can perform better in moving or turbulent waters than single-fin race boards.
Deck Pad Considerations for Race Boards
Racing will be dominated by action at the middle of the board, paddling forward while turning pivot turns and paddling backward. So for racing, the deck pad only needs to extend slightly forward to the middle of the board.
Those racing in choppy conditions should use a deck surface with diamond grooves for maximum traction. During longer races or training sessions, a smoother deck surface may be more comfortable for sensitive feet.
When executing buoy turns, the deck pad has an arch bar and raised edge that helps keep your rear foot in place.
Inflatable vs. Hard Board for Racing
Practical considerations will heavily influence the type of board construction you choose.
Would you be able to store 14’ long hardboard all year round? To reach your race destinations, will you be traveling by air? What is the value of additional expense and complexity if you can reduce your race time by a few seconds?
Despite the dominance of hard boards in professional SUP races, an inflatable SUP class is becoming increasingly popular to encourage racers to transport their boards by airplane without spending a fortune crating and shipping them.
Before Buying a Board for SUP Racing
Consider a narrow racing board with the most recent enhancements if you want to win races. You might consider a more practical touring board that you can use to race if you want a board you'll use regularly and will race occasionally.
Type of Races (River, Ocean, Inland Lake)
The SUP races are held in various environmental settings, such as lakes, oceans, rivers, marinas, and bays. They are also open to outriggers, kayaks, surf skis, and other types of watercraft.
Inland lakes, races open to all levels of ability are held in more predictable water and weather conditions that won't drastically change.
Just ask the event organizer all the questions you might have beforehand, regardless of what type of SUP race you plan to enter, to determine if the event is appropriate for your abilities and distance. Many paddle shops also offer pre-race clinics, which can help you prepare for the big race and calm your nerves.
Consider what you want your SUP board to do in the long term
Consider what you want your SUP board to do in the long run. Many paddlers use paddle boarding to relax or stay in shape. Some people also use it to spend time and bond with family and friends.
However, some paddlers take SUP races very seriously and would give their best effort every time they compete. Consider your style of paddling when choosing your board. A long and narrow paddleboard will make casual paddling uncomfortable and unnecessarily difficult, so avoid getting one if it's mostly for casual paddling.
Choosing a SUP board that is long, narrow, and performance-oriented is only a good idea if you are going to be taking part in a lot of SUP races. You should take the time to determine what type of SUP activities you are most interested in and will do most of the time.
Speed and tracking with Stand-Up Paddle Boards
Speed and tracking are two key characteristics of the long, sleek racing standup paddle boards. Speed is at the core of a racing SUP, which is built to tear through the waterways. A design like that is not by accident. Authentic racing environments are used to research, develop, and test the boards to ensure they meet speed expectations. If you are a paddleboard enthusiast who wants to race, choosing the board that will help you achieve that goal is very important.
WOWSEA Swift S2 Inflatable Paddle Board
The STABLE SWIFT S2 inflatable standup paddleboard has a beautiful performance design, 11200 drop stitch density, and double-layer military-grade PVC rails for added stability when inflated to 15 PSI. It measures 14' long x 28" wide x 6" thick. Designed to make you enjoy and love your paddle boarding session, this sup is affordable and durable. It allows you to easily pack the paddle board paddle in your portable bag by breaking it into three separate pieces. You can match the paddleboard fin to the conditions with a bolt box design.
In recent years, standup paddle boarding has gained significant popularity, and many SUP events are now held worldwide. Give SUP races a try if you think you have the right skill set. So keep continuing your SUP race with the slogan of LOVE ENJOY MY LIFESTYLE!