RedwoodPaddle: How to Choose Your 1st SUP Surfboard

Does the allure of gliding down waves on a SUPboard tempt you? If so, welcome to SUP Surfing!

What do you look for when choosing your first SUP surfboard, the first thing that you need to do is look at a brand that has a range of boards, for example like French brand redwoodpaddle who has a big range of SUPboards, so you can find a board that fits your size, your paddle needs and your finances.

There are 2 important factors to consider when looking for your 1st boards these are the volume and the shape, these 2 factors are all interlinked, they both affect each other.

The Volume

Volume is everything! At the beginning this is the most critical decision to make. Too little volume in your board and you will be swimming a lot, you’ll become tired and cold and will end up on your knees, on the other side, too much volume and you won’t be able to carry the board, control it, paddle out past the white water and you risk stalling your SUP surfing progress.

In general the skinnier the board the less volume it has! The thicker and wider the board the more volume, but this has nothing to do with its potential for surfing, the volume is more to do with paddler stability whilst trying to get the waves! For example the RWP 8’11” Natural is a stable board, it has volume found in its thickness, its nice and wide (32 inches) and would suit a light to mid-weight beginner, but it still maintains the ideal surf shape.

Photo: RWP 8’11” Natural 

So how to find the correct SUP surf volume? There are 2 factors to take into account.

1. Your weight, in order to get an ideal volume for your board, take your weight in kgs and multiply it by the values in the table below, you will then arrive at your “ideal” volume (this is measured in litres).

Beginner SUP board x2
Intermediate SUP Board x1.75
Advanced SUP Board x1.50

A rider at 75kgs, has an ideal volume of 110 litres for expert level, 130 litres for an intermediate and 150 litres for beginner level.

On paper this can be seen as the “ideal” volume, but other factors need to be taken into account, paddle fitness/previous water sport experience and conditions found at your local spot.

2. Your local spot – How does this influence the volume? If your spot is prone to wind and chop you need a board that gives you a little more stability or your legs will tire quickly, if you are in a spot that offers nice clean conditions you will be able to push the limits of the volume from the beginning. That said you can correct your balance quickly by practising paddling your new board in flat conditions, it will take time, but it is achievable. Your spot conditions and wave shape also affects the shape of your board.

The Shape

The shape is mainly influenced by the rocker, which is the board profile from the tail through to the nose and its curvature.

So the shape is defined by your style: Will you be shortboarding or longboarding or somewhere in the middle?

If you will be going down the line with long sweeping turns, or if your spot has long and small rolling waves you should consider a longSUP. If your spot has a fast and powerful wave and you will be hitting the lip of the wave,  you need a shortboard. It is important to think about this, as boards have different rockers according to their needs. 

Below we can see the difference between 2 board designs, the source PRO 8’6″ has a bigger rocker than the longSUP. Its nose is not in contact with the water, this stops the board from nose diving (and stops you from wiping out) as it reaches the bottom of the wave.

The tail is slightly higher as well which allows you to lift the board in to the lip line in and back down the wave.  It also allows for a tighter turning radius in cutbacks and snapbacks.

But if you have decided that you will be riding that one metre gentle breaker then there is no need for much rocker. A board like the RedwoodPaddle Spoon 9’2″  is ideal. If you have too much rocker in small waves, your board will start to “push water” rather than flow over it and you will slow down. Also in this board, like many longSUPs, the weight is spread throughout the board so you can have fun nose riding. The smaller rocker in a board is the reason why some SUP boarders can take waves further behind the line out.

Although RedwoodPaddle Spoon 9’2″  is constructed for the lighter rider, there are always boards suited for the heavier rider but with the same style, an example is the Redwood spoon 10′ XL, the only difference is the width (increasing the volume) and not the shape! Good brands never compromise on shape for volume – Big guys charge too!

Although there are a lot more factors to consider in buying the 1st board, these 2 are a good starting point, so go out and have fun, next time you see a board why not have a look at the rocker and the volume, you may find out something new!


About the Author

Helen Trehoret

SUP, OC1, V6, Surfski ... and field hockey coaching, Helen is a busy British mother of two who lives in Bretagne, France with a passion for all things Ocean. Helen runs Barrachou SUP, a SUP tour company specialized in excursions around Bretagne and Scotland.

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