Demystifying Race SUP Boards

Written by PP Loiselle & Laurence Coulombe

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You decided to take up stand up paddleboard this summer and now you want to take it to another level? You like going fast and pushing your limits on water? Good news! Today, we’re demystifying race type boards that will allow you to move on to the next step.

Design: 

What sets this board apart from other boards is that it’s designed for racing or training. Every detail, from its narrow shape, fin, and light and voluminous construction affect the glide.

📷  : Max Bee 

Length:

Most race boards vary in width and thickness, but their length tends to stay within 12'6 and 14'0 feet, like the new TAIGA BOARD NARVAL 14'0 x 24". Why so long? The greater the surface, the faster the board will gain speed. However, the longer it is, the harder it will be to manoeuver. Therefore, a compromise between sliding and manoeuvrability is to be considered. That’s why it’s important to practice your pivots! This board will allow you to improve your speed, and refine your «crossed steps» and movements, in general.

Width:

Width also affects the speed of the board. Imagine steering a pontoon versus a sailing boat. The aerodynamic shape of the sailboat will be much more efficient than the pontoon. That’s why race boards are much more narrow than other boards. Every inch affects its speed. That said, it also means that you may lose some stability on your board. This is where your abdominal and dorsal (core) muscles come in handy. Depending on your physiology, the narrowest boards (22 inches and 23 inches) are the most difficult for lateral balance. On the otherhand, boards ranging from 24’, to 26’, will generally be more stable. For many athletes, the dilemma remains between choosing a very narrow board that will offer more speed but less stability, or a wider board with a slower glide, but allow for more energy and stability. When covering long distances, the paddler with the narrowest board won’t necessarily always be the fastest because they are more likely to fall considering the level of difficulty affected by the width of the board. It is necessary to mention that the rocker, no matter the position you’re in, will require a time of adaptation on racer style boards. Expect to fall in the water a few times, especially when partaking in intense activities. This knowledge will definitely be helpful when practicing on all-around type boards.


Shape:

Also, you will notice that the nose of the board is very narrow. This feature allows the board to cut easily through the water with little resistance The same goes for the tail of the board, allowing water to glide past effortlessly. Whether your board has a very narrow V-shaped pin-tail for downwind paddling or a square squash tail for more stability, a wide range of choices is available on the market. As a rule of thumb, the following principle must be understood: the narrower the tail, the less stable he board will be during pivots and the less support it will offer the back end of the board

Thickness and Volume:

Another point to consider is thickness and volume:both affect the floatability of the board. You will notice that the nose is more massive than the rest of the board. This is where floatability is most important. It allows for a thinner board with an overall good volume. The thickness at the back of the nose is usually between 5 and 6 inches compared to 4 inches for all-around boards. For most riders, a thicker board that will ensure a better glide.

Construction and Weight:

When designing our boards, we always consider weight and strive to offer the lightest board possible. Why is this even more important for race boards? Simply put, the lighter your board, the more efficient your paddling will be . That’s why it is crucial to t look at the weight when when shopping for a board. Which brings us to board construction and materials. At Taiga Board, we use a mix of carbon and fiber glass. This makes for a very lightweight board all while ensuring a strong structure and premium quality. The deck is also reinforced with carbon. The board on the opposite way is filled with foam EPS 15 kg/m³, which is basically what makes it float. And that friends, is the magic recipe for a stable and lightweight board. Last but not least, we highly recommend purchasing a boardbag to protect your board.

Paddle:

Ah the paddle! Let us not forget the paddle! A good carbon fiber paddle is what we recommend if you want to paddle fast and more efficiently. In general, the blades of this type of paddle have a smaller surface area in terms of square inches and are less wide. Since the goal here is to paddle faster, a paddle with a smaller blade is required in order to maintain a reasonable effort to speed ratio. Some race paddles have a rectangular shape which helps maximize the effectiveness of each paddle stroke. Each SUP paddle stroke phase (hyperlink to the video tech paddle) is important to master: entry, catch, power phase, exit and recovery.

It’s especially important to pick up speed during the exit and recovery phases in order to reduce the time spent with the paddle out of the water.


For several years now, our athlete ambassadors have been testing different concepts and constructions so as to create the most performant and efficient boards. Our boards improve year after year thanks to their feedback. Over time, we've managed to develop racer boards with widths ranging from 22'0 inches to 27'0 inches all while modifying the construction of each element whether it was the nose, tail, rocker, deck or volume. All these modifications, along with physiology , will allow the paddler to get the most out of each paddle stroke.

Have a good trainning🌞🌊

Nice spots to practice:

1. KSF in Lasalle

2. Waterfront near Natatorium in Verdun

3. Lake St-Louis and Lachine Marina

4. Old canal of Beauharnois and Bay St-François

5. Notre-Dame island in Montreal and Olympic basin at Parc Jean-Drapeau

6. Any water surface calm and without wind (Especially early in the morning and at sunset!)

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