SUP guide to buying a first board.

With some many companies and so much choice out there to buy a board is a disaster waiting to happen.  I bought my first board 8 months ago and I will be honest I had no idea what I was doing….I was clueless and now I am paying the price. It is a huge investment and a rewarding one, but get it wrong as I did is to risk throwing money down the toilet.  If I knew then what I know now I would have made a very different decision.

I got the SUP bug whilst on holiday and was determined to buy a board but my funds were limited.  So I shopped around, read widely about boards and found a company run out of a guy’s apartment who imports their own brand of boards. Great, I thought, low overheads give low prices and also it is supporting a local business and I am all for that.  I arrived with pockets bulging with cash ready to be impressed, I guess my inexperience and naivety led to me falling for the patter of the sales man, and guess what I was sold a dummy!

Buying a SUP is akin to buying a car….. The person selling it makes money if they convince you to part with yours, but like a car you need to try before you buy.  After all you wouldn’t buy a car without a test drive, one should never buy a board without testing it on the water.  This is lesson 1!  A bad board will dump you in the drink, no matter how accomplished a SUP rider you are, if the rocker is tippy or the design poor then it will be unstable and if that happens then no matter how good your balance is you wil never successfully ride that board.  

What makes a good board? Well, the best thing to look for is Research and Development, also have a look at the brands doing well in professional competition. Chances are they will have put a lot of time and effort into research.  As I write this the top brand on the circuit is Starboard, followed by Mistral.  It sounds like a cliche but the bigger brands spend a lot of time and resources making the best boards.  It is difficult to see how smaller home based brands can spend the time and money researching and developing good performing boards.  It is not possible they don’t have the research budget as a result they are bad boards.  

Let me tell you what is wrong with my board then maybe that will give an indication on what to look out for.

Rigidity:  one of the key things is how stiff the board is, many inflatable boards have an issue that they are not stiff enough.  In fact my board bounces around all over the place.  If a board is not stiff enough then it will be unbalanced and balance is everything when remaining upright.  

Tracking:  my board has 3 fins, a central large fin and 2 smaller ‘thruster fins’,  in a perfect world this gives stability and tracking, in reality the thrusters are made of such soft plastic that they curl and I paddle in circles.  It takes a lot of effort to keep the board tracking straight so constant adjustment is needed which takes all speed out the board.  This is a major design flaw but not one that is covered under the warranty.  

Shape:  ask yourself what you will be using the board for, flat water, surf, race, yoga?  There is a shape for every activity and the difference between them is vast.  I wanted an all rounder so had a rounded nose.  This is probably the best board for most.  But is the nose doesn’t have the right angle it does not cut through the after and tends to cut into the after and nose dives, meaning constant adjustment of stance, not ideal for the beginner.  

They are the key things to look out for.  I spent a great deal of time in the water because my board is imbalanced, the rocker is tippy and threw me off.  I have got the hang of my board though and as a result I can ride nearly anything because I have developed a great sense of what the board can do.  This is the positive of a bad board…..if you can handle a cheap bad board when you do upgrade and go for something better then you will be well practiced.  

So here are buying points:

  • Try before you buy
  • Don’t fall for sales technique
  • Try before you buy 
  • Research the board and company
  • Try, try, test and try
  • Cheaper is not better
  • Find what is suited to you and what you want to do with it
  • Try it on the water – that’s is where you will use it so try it!
  • Talk to more experienced boarders and what they use.
  • Don’t fall for sales as they want your money

I have had to learn the hard way and I did wrong and now I’m stuck with a poor board.  Don’t make the same mistake.

It has been too long!

It really has been too long since my last post.  Unfortunately SUP has not been ossicle for me for the past month or so.  I am absolutely gutted by that.  Firstly, we got battered by several storm fronts.  High. Winds and a lot of rain made for some gnarly conditions for the moderately novice boarder.  I did not want to go out and get washed away.  There was a case of an experienced kayaker who misread the flow of storm run off and he was not found.  Really brings in sharp relief the fragile nature of life and how being on the water is a privilege that nature affords us, not a right of us to go messing about and my thoughts are with his family.  But, having said that the weather is improving, the seas and rivers are calming and Spring is retreating in the overwhelming force that will soon be summer and SUP will be back on the agenda! And I have a lot of time to make up.

I have not been idle in the lay off.  Indeed, my fitness programme has gone from strength to strength.  To the extent I really should rename this blog from ‘Fat man on a SUP’ to ‘not so fat man on a sup’.  Through the power of diet and exercise I have lost a whopping 4st 7lbs and for those that prefer metric that’s 28kg!  I still have another 2 st 7lbs ( 10.5 kg) to lose before I reach my target.  I have lost 8″ around my waist and the same from my chest.  I swim and gym 6 times a week and consume less than 1800kcal daily.  I am to be beach ready by July, because that is when I am ding a 1.4 mile sea swim for charity.  The British Heart Foundation have, for a few years, organised the swim from Bournemouth pier to Boscombe Pier in Dorset Uk, it is a worthy charity that raise funds for heart disease research and support to families affected by cardiac issues (I will put a link up to my Just Giving page at the end if anyone wishes to donate).  

I have been thinking recently, pondering who I am and the person I want to be.  I guess being on such a radical and total weight loss and attitude readjust has given me pause fir thought.  I am essentially trying to change who I am, or should I say who I was, not just mentally and in my attitude, but physically, through the weight loss I am trying to become someone I have never been, someone toned, trimmed, and generally pleasing to the eye.  It sounds strange to some of you that someone is that intent on changing essentially who they are, but I was not happy with how I looked, I was not happy with how it affected my relationship with an amazing women and how my children must perceive me. So, I had to change. I had to do something to make everyone around me happier. 

This radical change in attitude though comes with its own side issues.  These have only raised their heads in the past week. I had to go through my wardrobe and empty all the clothes that did not fit, not an issue had to be done, and it does give me a chance to get some new threads.  This itself has been eye opening, I know can go into shops like Fat Face, Crew or Animal and choose essentially what I want because I now fit in fashionable/designer clothing.  I must be honest, I am not much fir fashion, I have a look I like and am happy to be out with.  My issue is, and this is mad, I now think that I am getting clothes I like that I really should not be wearing.  I am 37 years old and I think I have entered into mid life crisis early.  Dressing to recapture my youth, or at least what I would have liked my youth to be if I had not listened to my parents and my friends (I use the term loosely as looking back they really were’nt).  But, I wonder if I now am doing things because I didn’t back when I had hair. Yes, I am balding which makes the look a bit ridiculous.  I have 2 children, twin boys and they are 2 and a half now, I wonder if I should be suited and booted and not wondering around in Hawaiian shirts and board shorts.  But that it makes me comfortable and happy. 

I feel that as a man I now have the power and authority that I lacked in my youth to voice opinions and to act on the complaints.  This is how my brain works at the moment and it is driving me nuts, my thought process is:  I was young and idealistic and no one listened to me because I was young.  I am in my twenties I am going to gain the knowledge and experience so that my voice can be heard.  I am in my 30’s and now those that need to listen won’t because they see me as old and passed it.  So, what is one to do?  Well, for a start, let’s start with the sea that I love so much…….stop putting plastic in it!  Microbe ads in cosmetics and scrubs drive me up the fucking wall!  Use sand it’s abrasive and natural and when it gets to the sea it just settles back to whence it came.  Stop the use of helium balloons, two reasons for this, helium is finite, we can’t make any more and when it’s gone it’s but also an inevitable side effect of helium balloons is that they float up, when they pop or go down they land wherever they land often in the sea and get stuck in the stomachs of all manner of Marine creatures.  And my final gripe today is a simple one, take your rubbish home or put it in the bin.  Doesn’t matter where you are, the park, the beach or in the middle of nowhere.  

Well that’s that rant over so I shall now update on SUP.  I bought a new paddle.  I had been using the bog standard alloy paddle that came with my board and now have upgraded to a glass fibre paddle, it is a Red Paddle Co Vario glass fibre 3 piece and it’s as light as a feather.  Unfortunately I have not tested it out yet as not had a chance to get on the water since purchasing it.  But will review it when I do.  What I can say is this, many of the literature say not to bother with an alloy paddle, to change it as soon as possible. I disagree, for this reason, learning to paddle and I am mostly self taught, having the extra weight in the paddle develops technique and power.  So, don’t be so quick to ditch the alloy, use it to ones advantage.  When you’re confident with it change it up.

I think that may be enough of a post for now, you are all caught up.  Once I get on. The water again I will update further, but fir now here is the link to my Just giving page, any and all donations are most welcome and even if you can give a little it will go a long way.   https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Peter-Lewis78