The Infinity Blackfish is a Stand Up Paddle race board that has been around for a very long time. Over the years it has accrued a loyal following amongst top SUP racers and weekend warriors alike partly because it has a reputation as a one-board-for-everything ride. It is a proven race-winning design in all water conditions as shown by Candice Appleby’s gold medal performance on her low-volume flat deck in the Technical Race at the ISA World Championships in Puerto Rico in 2022. Before I joined the team here at TotalSUP I added one to my collection and here is my Infinity Blackfish long-term review.
The Infinity Blackfish
The famous Infinity Blackfish, a board that has been around in various incarnations since… well it feels like since SUP began but according to Infinity the first ones appeared in 2014. And in SUP years that means this board has real heritage.
If you put this nearly-new model down beside one of those early Blackfish you would immediately notice that the design hasn’t needed a radical overhaul in the years since it first appeared. Instead, the board has evolved with incremental changes which is a good thing, it means when you buy a new model you have a good idea of what you are going to get, no surprises but a tried, tested and successful shape that works well.
Good design lasts.
To quote Dave Boehne from Infinity’s website this board has been “…under the feet of some of the words best Candice Appleby, Itzel Delgado, Juliette Duhaime, Tyler Bashor, ShaeFoudy, Bernd Roediger and Kai Lenny.”
That’s quite a roll-call but not the reason I bought my Blackfish, I wanted a fast, stable, good looking and good-quality board to use for winter training and rough water paddling here in Sweden, I had just got back from a trip around Denmark where I had been paddling both a flat deck and dugout that I had been lucky to borrow from Infinity SUP Nordic and when Morten, the dealer for the Nordic region showed me the pre-production images for the 2022 colour schemes I knew I needed one.
Infinity Blackfish Carbon Flat Deck
With the increasing popularity of dugout boards, some brands have dropped their flat deck designs completely. Not Infinity who decided to split the Blackfish range into two, the dugout board was designed for those paddlers who wanted the benefits that design can bring and they kept the original flat deck for those who prefer the benefits of a not-dugout. Both designs have their pros and cons and I think it was a very smart move by Infinity to extend the range that way.
Why the widest Flat Deck?
Dugouts are great! I am lucky to have one in the garage but that isn’t what I wanted in a board I will use in rougher conditions and through the usually very cold Swedish winters. I chose the 27″ flat deck because I am tall and heavy and I wanted a board that would be super-stable for winter paddling, reducing the risk of falling into water that is near freezing and a board that would still be capable of going fast when training or in races in rougher conditions.
I also have an idea that I like to move my feet around and the Blackfish flat deck gives me more real estate to use when down winding and to use to rail steer, something that is very useful when navigating through the many islands in the Gothenburg archipelago, my local playground.
Mine is the Crimson / Gold colour scheme, introduced in 2022 on several boards in the Infinity range and I think it looks fantastic, as does everyone else who has seen it. With the often copied distressed look that Dave Boehne gives his boards you will have to be prepared for “is it supposed to look like that?” or “I thought you had a new board?” questions all.the.time. I am a fan of the look, it has hidden some heavy-handedness on my part and the scuffs and scratches that a bird picked up in use simply add to the patina. Having used the demo boards from the local dealer I felt no need to add rail protection to my Blackfish and have not regretted that decision.
The board comes with a good quality deck pad which is thin, grippy underfoot and has different textures depending on where you are on the deck. I like the chevrons cut into the pad showing the board under it, not only do these break up the blackness but they are great for learning where to trim the board for best performance. After several months hard use the decked shows no signs of wear.
The kick pad is useful if you want to go that far back. It is also supplied with a nicely padded and positioned centre carry handle with the Speed Freaks branding on it and a race fin. Picking the board up it is perfectly balanced, as it should be.
Infinity Blackfish – Tech stuff
From Infinity’s website, this board has a volume of 323l and is good for paddlers up to 108.8 kg, I am well under that but wanted a wider board for fun, rougher conditions, winter training and to carry a dry bag with food and clothing. Wider is more versatile.
Image Credit – Infinity SUP
The construction is ‘Team Elite’ and there’s not much more on that from Infinity other than they think it’s the best they can do. After 7 months of use, I have to agree, this is a very well-made board. One area that my boards usually show wear is with the deck compressing where I stand, I am over 95kg / 210 lbs but the deck is exactly as it was when the board was new.
The quoted board weight is 11.79kg and mine comes in at 12.1 kg with the supplied fin and screw, centre handle, a heavy-duty calf leash and a bungee set up to hold a dry bag and drink.
Infinity Blackfish – The shape
The original Blackfish were amongst the first, maybe the first, SUP race boards with a centre channel or a concave in the hull which set them apart from others at the time and that continues in the 2022 model. The Blackfish hull has always been a planning design, as you accelerate the nose lifts rather than cutting through the water and the current model obviously keeps this core feature of Infinity DNA along with a lot of the look and feel of those first production boards.
Blackfish is one of the names for Orca or Killer Whale and this board is killer fun if that is a thing. It is playful, responsive, stable and fast. And if those things seem to contradict each other then so be it, that is my experience so far. It is a grin-making machine even in the depths of Swedish winter training, avoiding sea ice while the snow falls have been memorable.
There are several things a race board needs to be, fast, stable, manoeuvrable and durable. This Blackfish has ticked all of those boxes.
Starting with the easiest attribute to measure, speed. I am lucky to be training under the guidance of Michael Booth which means I have a lot of training data for repeated efforts over the last 12 months and this ‘wide’ board has surprised me so far with a decent turn of speed. Remember it is a 27” wide all-water board and I’m happy keeping it at 9.3 / 9.4 km/h for long intervals at my distance race pace on flat water in neutral conditions – no wind, no current. My top speed, wind and wave assisted is over 15km/h and my best KMs, again with wind and current have been with average speeds over 10 km/h.
I was surprised and impressed with this as when paddling it does not feel that fast, the bow wave does not inspire a feeling of speed but when you trim it right it accelerates and holds speed really well. This wide board can fly.
Next, stability. This board has a party trick, it allows me to paddle on one leg. That might not be a big deal for many but I am tall and heavy and I have never paddled any distance standing on one leg on any other board I have owned. On this board, it is relatively easy. Big grin. A stable board means you can concentrate on getting the power down when you need to go fast and you can admire the scenery on slower days.
Manoeuvrability. That stability adds confidence to almost any paddler, from beginners to advanced and makes moving back and forward on the board stress-free, enabling proficient pivot turns and quick changes in direction. Rail steering too is easy allowing you to paddle for extended periods on one side if needed.
A little harder to demonstrate are the playful and responsiveness attributes of the board, yes I can get my foot on the kick pad for a ‘good for the camera’ image of the bow pointing at the sky if I want to and yes I can line it up with some surf and ride it in maintaining directional control for the safety of others. Both are a given for almost any race board today although some boards seem to encourage this behaviour more than others. And the Blackfish is one of those boards, it has a little bit of hooligan in the DNA, encouraging paddlers to pick up boat wake when they can or step back and spin around for no real reason other than because they can.
Durability. My board has had a hard life so far, over 1000 km of training, touring, a little down-winding and lots of pulling it out of the water to have lunch. The coast here is largely rocky with a lot of very shallow water and it has been bumped, dragged and once dropped! If you know that feeling then you will know my heart stopped for a second. But it is fine, that distressed finish to the paint makes it very hard, even for me, to find any issues. Before writing this I had a good look over the hull for any marks worth mentioning and I was not surprised that there were none.
A good fin is essential for a happy paddler and it is often the first thing changed on a board, this means sometimes the fin supplied is a bit basic. Not the case with my Blackfish although Infinity were having fin issues at the time and my fin came from ‘The Clan Project’. This was deeper and thinner than the Infinity fin I expected and guess what, it works. It certainly suits the playful nature of the board, tracking upwind is faultless, in sidewind and chop performance is perfectly acceptable and with the wind behind it is entertaining.
Worth noting that Infinity are tweaking their fin designs and new boards will come with a different fin which I am sure will suit the board just as well.
Is the Infinity Blackfish the perfect all-water SUP race board?
Not quite but it is close! It has all the attributes a race board needs, it is fast, stable and agile. It works well in rougher conditions and on flatter water and it is available in a range of sizes to suit virtually any paddler but there are two things I would add to this board.
The most significant is a forward leash point, this is present on the narrower dugouts that I have paddled but missing from the 27″ flat deck and that’s a shame. A forward-mounted leash will not drag in the water and is not in the way during step-back turns.
Of less importance is the positioning of the FCS mount commonly used for GoPros etc. It is well positioned for mounting anything other than a camera and I often it to hold a use a water bottle holder. When used for a camera which is probably what most paddlers will want to do, it gets a great view of the extra volume in the nose when pointed forward or a paddler’s knees when pointed backwards. Having an extra slot further forward would make for better camera angles without using extension poles.
And to finish
How to wrap this up? I have paddled this board a lot since it arrived in Sweden in August 2022 and it still makes me grin. It paddles extremely well but that was no surprise as the shape is tried, tested and mature. I am happy I bought it and I think I’ll be keeping this one for a while.
What better way to finish this review than with some words from Dave Boehne at Infinity
“If you paddle mostly in the ocean or a flat water area that gets changing seasons and conditions or flat water and simply want the best of stability and speed, Blackfish is for you and will be ready.”
Infinity Surfboards are a family-owned and family-run business based in Dana Point, CA, USA. The Infinity Blackfish is just one model in their wide range of race SUPs, it is a podium-ready race machine available in two designs, flat deck and dugout. With a length of 14 feet across the range there are a number of widths to suit any paddler from 21.5 inches to a more relaxed 28.5 inches. Infinity have also looked after lighter paddlers with four low volume models available in the Candice series including two shorter 12’6″ boards.
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