Dugout or flat deck? Indiana Rider Manuel Lauble on board design & innovation

Manuel LaubleIndiana Paddle & Surf Co. Team Rider  and one of Germany’s top pro SUP racers, has been grinding and consistently winning his podiums the whole SUP season, keeping the stoke high even through the toughest long distance formats. The new 2023 SUP Suisse Tour Champion  has stayed loyal to the Indiana 14×21.5 DHC Race Dugout Hollow Carbon board, a model that Manuel was involved in developing during the prototype stages. TotalSUP caught up with the Indiana’s Race Ambassador to chat about the SUP board design and predictions.

Photo by Andy Klotz Photography

Hi Manuel, massive congratulations on your amazing SUP racing season to date! What are your season’s highlights and what was your Indiana board set up throughout?

Thank you Anna, great to talk with you again. My 2023 season was amazing with fifteen races held nationally and internationally. It is tough to pick one as the best. I began in January with the GlaGla Race that was live streamed by TotalSUP and then participated in The Lake Rocks SUP Festival at Faaker See (also streamed by you guys), where athletes from various countries competed. To me, the events of SUP Suisse Tour across the Swiss Alps are always visually stunning, including the SKYBLUE Paddle in Davos. I was fortunate enough to become the first non-native to win the SUP Suisse Tour 2023.

In addition, I took part in five out of six races of the SUP Alps Trophy race series and achieved a 2nd place ranking overall, just behind Normen Weber. My favourite part of the competition were  the finals held in Duisburg – a challenging, high-intensity sprint race with two buoy turns on the regatta course. The end was so close and thrilling, but ultimately Ole Schwarz won by just a few centimetre margin.

Photo by: Andy Klotz Photography

Throughout the season, I have consistently used the Indiana 14′ DHC Race Dugout Hollow Carbon board


Image source: Indiana Paddle & Surf Co.

along with the Indiana 7.5” Hyperflow Carbon Race Fin. For my set up, I also rely on the Black Project Hydro Flow-X and Hydro Sprint-X in sizes L and XL.

Image source: Indiana Paddle & Surf Co.

The SUP market is becoming increasingly saturated with new brands and board designs. How do we cut through the noise and choose the right gear?

I don’t think there is a “best board” for everyone. Additionally, the choice of board material depends heavily on its intended usage. As an athlete, I need to consider where I’ll be paddling and the competitions I’ll be participating in before selecting a board. Every paddler has unique needs, preferences and abilities. Most brands offer shapes suitable for flat water, open water, downwind, etc.

My body weight is an important factor when choosing the appropriate board width or volume. A lighter or smaller paddler may be better off with a 20″ board as opposed to a 90 kg rider. In the past, narrower boards with widths under 20″ were trendy and it’s possible that this helped the elite athletes move quicker. However, I have observed at events that many athletes are returning to boards with 21″ or 22″ widths. A stable position and a secure feeling in all racing situations allow me to paddle powerfully at all times, resulting in higher speed overall.

Could you tell us more about your collab with Indiana and being involved in the board testing, development and design process?

Indiana Paddle & Surf  is a Swiss brand. Shaper Andi Widmann is responsible for developing race boards. He lives and works in Constance in the south of Germany, near the border of Switzerland on the shores of Lake Constance, just like me. Andi’s workshop is only a 3-minute walk from my office – the perfect location for testing a new shape or variation on the water. During the development of the new Indiana 14′ DHC Race Dugout Hollow Carbon, he and his Team created several prototypes by milling and laminating. We tested them in different conditions and it took a whole year to produce the final board and the form for the hollow construction.

Photo by: Andy Klotz Photography

What are you looking for in a SUP board? What an aspiring SUP racer should focus on?

Speed 😜 Of course, as a racer, your top priority is speed. A lighter board will get you going faster and likely require less effort to maintain for a longer period of time. Secondly, I value stability when the water is rough, such as during a race start or buoy turns. I know many athletes, especially those in the countryside, who use only one board for all situations – including myself.

My advice for aspiring SUP racers is to consider where and under what conditions you will mainly be paddling. Do you want one race board for everything or can you afford to store multiple boards? What is your SUP skill level, weight and budget? Many events offer free board testing. Take the time to feel the differences and discover what suits to you.

Photo by: Andy Klotz Photography

Could you tell us more of what goes into designing the perfect SUP racing board?

When building hollow race boards, the goal is to use as little material as possible to create a board that is both extremely light and highly rigid. At Indiana, we utilize vacuum infusion technology to manufacture the two halves separately, within a negative mold. However, as previously mentioned, there is no such thing as a perfect race board. When developing the Indiana DHC, we made sure that the nose scoop was high, allowing the narrow nose to fly freely over the hop and smoothly cut through the waves even in tough conditions.

The midsection is gently rocked, reducing the wetted surface area to the maximum. The slightly mono-concave, parallel channel in the underwater hull reduces frictional resistance and optimises straight-line running. The proper tail kick prevents the back of the board from sucking in water and allows tight buoy turns. It even guarantees decent downwind performance in rough conditions. The square tail has sharp edges up to the fin, which ensures perfect water flow.

Photo by: Andy Klotz Photography

Hollow dugout construction or flat deck?

Oh, difficult 🤪 For me, definitely a dugout for long-distance races. The low position (sometimes even slightly below the water surface) and the resulting low center of gravity make a narrower board very stable. For sprint and tech races with beach starts, where paddlers run into the water with the board under their arms and then jump onto it, a flat deck can have advantages.

How do you think the board design will progress? Are we about to see some innovative disruption in board design?

The board shapes have reached such high levels. There won’t be any major innovations in the next few years I think. Of course, there are advancements in production processes and in the development and selection of environmentally friendly materials. I’ve noticed that various brands are showcasing designs and shapes in their current product lines that worked in 2017/2018 already.

We must not forget that producing and processing the resins and fibrous materials used in making the colourful boards can be problematic. Therefore, I don’t understand why the ICF decided that the board should not weigh less than 10kg. If it’s possible to save two or three kilograms of material during production, it would be advantageous for resource conservation, environmental protection and logistics.

Photo by: Andy Klotz Photography

Thank you for sharing your insights and good luck with the rest of the season!

Thank you, Anna, for the interview. When will you come to the beautiful Lake Constance for a paddle? You are cordially invited 🤙🏻

To find out more about Indiana Paddle & Surf, visit: 
> Indiana Paddle & Surf

Explore the 2023 Look Book here and follow Indiana on Facebook and Instagram

Follow Manuel Lauble on Instagram 

*Images courtesy of Manuel Lauble 


About the Author

Anna Nadolna

Anna is the Founder of SUPer Whale, a Cambridge(UK!)-based emerging watersports brand and a stand-up paddleboarding community. She is a certified SUP Flat Water Instructor accredited by International Surfing Association (ISA). Anna is also a digital marketing, storytelling aficionado and a growth hacking enthusiast.

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