Three major flatwater international events won already. The 2015 Sprint board by Starboard is the talk of the town among SUP racers. Interview with Mathieu Rauzier the brain behind the design of the new rocket.
Hello Mathieu, what feedback are you getting on the 2015 Sprint?
Mathieu Rauzier: So far the feedback has been extremely positive and the expression “fastest board ever tried” has been echoing in the past weeks from many people, whether associated to Starboard or not, which is extremely good. It is indeed a very special board. Our Sprint boards were always known as fast boards, but being so flatwater-oriented, some people have been loving them but many people have not been taken on by the concept of a board purely dedicated to flat conditions and have opted for more versatile options.
However, the 2015 version being more stable, faster and a lot more “ocean-friendly” really got the unanimity in the test reports which was a great.
The Forster Island Paddle Festival report by SUPRacer revealed that 4 of the top 5 Men's results and the 1st woman won the sprint races on the Sprint while none of them are being sponsored by Starboard including Fanatic-backed Paul and Angie Jackson. What do you think of that?
Mathieu Rauzier: There can be many explainations behind the fact that they did not ride their sponsor's boards, so I am not entirely sure what to say there. But the fact that such reknown athletes outside of Starboard picked the Sprint out of any boards and won their races feels very rewarding, I have to admit.
Is 2015 the year of the Sprint then?
Mathieu Rauzier: For flat water races, I believe it will be. So far the track record is a perfect score with Bart de Zwart winning the 2014 11 city tour and Martjin Van Deth placing 3rd, also with a 2015 Sprint. Titouan Puyo smashing a 1st place two minutes ahead of Casper Steinfath in the Paris Nautic Sup Crossing Race with Gaétan Séné in 3rd place. Titouan recently won the Forster Island Paddle Festival Long distance on the Race – which is basically a Sprint with a bottom adapted to choppy conditions – and, cherry on the cake, Paul and Angie Jackson winning the sprint races at Forster.
I wouldn't be surprised to see people using it on beach races as well. Only a few days ago I was playing on the surf with it in Barcelona, and it really wasn't bad at all. I enjoyed some good size surf and the board was much easier than I thought to handle down the line.
Can you give us more details on the way the 2015 Sprint has been designed?
Mathieu Rauzier: This is a kind of subject on its own. I could honestly talk about the concept for way too long here. But to keep it short and simple, it is basicaly a flatwater oriented board with a very straight profile and a new innovative concave system made of three different rocker lines. We dictate where the water should go under the board for the most effective glide creating “Bernoulli effect” (similar to “venturi effect” but with water) to accelerate the flows. The rail rocker is very flat on the tail but there is a good nose scoop while the stringer rocker has scoop on the tail but is very flat in the nose.
So plenty of curve but very flat. It is a combined profile and that is basically the secret behind it.
Is making fast boards your top priority as Starboard's designer?
Mathieu Rauzier: At Starboard, everything is a priority … (laughters).
But, true, we put special attention to the Race Programme as it is the most relevant and less subjective result we can get.
A wave board is very subjective to conditions, rider style etc… It is hard to get the same test result from 2 different persons as they will most likely like a different board.
This is why I like to work on pro SUP surf board models, they are tailored to match the rider physic and style.
Racing is very different, you get the same comparison grid for everybody, if a board is faster than an other, it is easy to spot during testing. So to go back to your question, it's not that we put all our effort in the Race program, but it is something that I can work on everyday as a continuous project. The result is obvious, after 365 days of hard work with the same goal in mind, it is not so hard to make a fast board.
And here is a video interview of Mathieu Rauzier about the Sprint from last September's Starboard Convention by Gary from Paddleboard Specialists: