When you are new to SUP and looking to purchase your first board, it can be a confusing process figuring out what you need within your budget.
Here is a rundown on everything you need to know before you head into a store or buy online.
All-Rounder / Flat Water
This should be the first board for every new person to SUP. Generally they range from 9’ to 11’ and are between 30” and 40” – in other words, they are stable and forgiving! These boards are perfect for cruising around with friends in flat water. They are deliberately not designed for performance based activities which means they are easier to use for a beginner. Be warned that the bigger the board the more cumbersome they are and harder to carry, so it is worth trying to find the right trade off between stability and
Boards designed for Surfing are very much like the shorter surfboards you will often see down the coast. They have more rocker (curve on the board) and have narrower tails to allow for turning the board on the wave face. These boards sacrifice much of the stability of an all-rounder board for more maneuverability on waves.
Sleek and streamlined, Racing Boards take many lessons from Sailing and Boats to create high performance boards that go fast! Generally these boards are narrower than your standard SUP but are designed to get from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible. Once you have progressed past the beginner stage and you are looking to get into something a bit more competitive, this is what you need.
Touring Boards are great for long distance paddles on flat water – think of it like going for a hike but on water. They have high volume and are designed to be exceedingly effective at cruising along flat water with less effort than a normal SUP. Many of these boards have storage systems included in the board so you can carry camping gear, fishing gear or any other supplies needed.
Inflatable Boards are becoming more and more popular with the general public as they come down in price and become better quality. The benefits of inflatables are how light weight they are, their durability and the ability to pack them up to a suitcase size and take them on the road or store them at home easily. However with all these benefits come some downfalls. They require inflation when being used (which can be tiring without an air compressor), they don’t handle the wind as well as hard boards, and if not inflated correctly they can bow in the middle of the board making it harder to paddle.
Hard Boards on the other hand are heavier and therefore less susceptible to wind as well as not having the issues of bowing in the board. They are heavier to carry around and if you are lacking in space they may not be practical to own. Each person has their own circumstances and will need to make a call on what board composition is best for them.
Where to buy?
There are many places to purchase SUPs now that they have become more mainstream. You can head into a retailer to chat to someone in person, purchase online through a store or get a second hand board through a marketplace such as Gumtree or eBay. There is a big discrepancy between prices of boards with the cheaper boards coming in at under $500 and the more expensive boards at over $2000. As always the price largely dictates the quality of board and we encourage everyone to shop around for the best price.
At a Coasting SUP Session run by Surfing Victoria, we use Fanatic Fly Air Premium Inflatable boards. These boards are stable and light meaning less effort to get them on to the water and more time paddling! The boards used are either 9’8 or 10’4 and can be found at https://www.fanatic.com/product/fly-air/