Updated SUP Board and Debby’s First Lesson

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Naish Glide AST 12′ 2010

As Debby and I prepare for vacation, where she might get a chance to try out Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP), she decided it might be time to get a lesson before possibly having to lay out some cash on a rental while on vacation.  So, if she wanted to learn, it meant I had to use one of my old sailboards as a SUP board or check into to getting one of the newer boards made for touring on flat water.  My previous experience has been using an old sailboard as a SUP. Those boards were a Magnum Nova and Hobie Alpha 230a.  Real SUP boards include an Ocean Kayak 11′ Nalu and the 12′ Naish Glide (2010 model).  I found the surf style nose on the Naish made me feel like a was pushing water a little bit when compared to the displacement nose on the Nalu.  Looking at what’s available in displacement touring boards, there are a lot of options with prices on the low end for the Nalu’s around $600 to high-end carbon touring boards going for more than $2,500.  I ended up closer to the low end with a 12’6″ Bic Ace-Tec Wing limited edition from REI.  More on that later…

Lake_Johnson
Lake Johnson (c) Wind Watcher 2012

Debby’s first lesson went well.  We showed up at a local Raleigh city park, Lake Johnson, where a SUP group lesson was just starting.  I gave Debby the quick instructions of how to hold the paddle the right way, where to put it across the board while going on to the board on one knee in shallow water.  She has seen me SUP enough to have a basic idea on paddling.  She ended up on the Naish Glide and followed the group class out to the back side of the lake which required me to go from standing up on my board to a crouching position on my knees to make it under the Avent Ferry Road Bridge.  Once on the other side, she was able to stand up pretty easily by following my example.  We hung out in that part of the lake for a while after letting the group lesson go their own way to learn important things like how to get back on the board after falling off, where Debby’s idea of good lesson was not falling off.  After about fifteen minutes, we headed back to the main part of the lake which gave Debby another chance to go under the bridge and stand up again.  We paddled toward the dam and Debby had no issues and no near falls over the hour that we were on the water.

My thoughts on the new Bic Wing are: Wow!  Now the first thing I will have to say is the board is a little heavier compared to the Glide, but not anything like the rotomolded Ocean Kayak.  I  ended up getting the blue topped limited edition during the Labor Day sale at REI with the ship to store option  that only took two days to arrive.  I had been looking at this as a potential displacement board for awhile, but the $1399 price tag was a little more than I wanted to spend and 15% off helped push me over the edge and pull the trigger on the purchase.  My only qualm with REI, being an REI member at least, is they did not give a dividend on my purchase stating that the discount I was getting was more then the dividend would be.  That is pretty lame if you ask me, but it was not enough to make me decide to try and see if I could get it for the same price at another retailer that had similar ship to store options.

We unboxed the board at REI and let them recycle the the card board before heading out to Lake Johnson.  Thankfully one of the staff that helped me get it out of the box took the extra effort to bring me the FCS hex key wrench they found when discarding the box while I was still loading the new board up on the car or it would have been a sad trip to the lake for me as I only brought a phillips and straight screw driver with me.  Getting it on the water was pretty simple once I got the FCS 9″ touring fin installed.  Sadly carrying this board and the Naish Glide on my roof rack at the same time will require removing the fin from the Bic.  On the water the Wing is very stable, from a stop you have to alternate your paddle from side to side to get going in a straight line, but once you are carrying some speed this board tracks truer in the water better than any of the four boards I have SUP’ed on the past including when I was lowering the daggerboard on the Hobie Alpha to get some stability back when I was first starting out.  With Debby going at a much slower pace during her lesson, I had to double back several times to get her caught up.  Initially I was back paddling on one side to turn around and since this board tracks so straight I was almost coming to a complete stop to make the turn.  Later on I started walking back on the board to get the nose to lift out of the water and torquing my core to twist the board as I paddled on one side to make the turn.  Turning this way was quick and let me maintain some forward momentum, but required my full attention to keep my balance.

Overall I think this is going to be a great board for my flat water needs here in the area.  As far as the aesthetics go on this board, I like the metallic royal blue on top and the white bottom.  I have not verified this, but a quick glance at a couple of the graphics on the side they did not appear to be integrated into the glossy finish, so it will be interesting to see how long these decals stay on.  The recessed deck padding is nice and you can see where the red swoosh is cut into the base white pad.  I did get a little bit of hot foot on my right side, but that is most likely due to some planar faciitus and me being off the water for so long and not the padding.  The weather was an intermittent light breeze with overcast to partly cloudy while we were out on the water.  That said, I did notice that if I slid the outside of my foot off the pad up onto the blue top, I could feel the increased heat level of the darker color versus the mostly white pad.  Compared to the normal edition of this board in all white non-glossy finish with red graphics, I really like the red, white and mostly blue look of the top on the limited edition.  One of the items to note on the limited edition is the glossy finish.  Long term I think this may show a little more of the scrapes and dings that come with loading, launching and landing, but the whole reason for the Ace-Tec construction is make these boards pretty bullet proof and I can tell you as the owner of two 1980’s sailboards using similar construction that you can probably poke a hole all the way through one of the boards and keep using for years to come as long as you don’t compromise the board’s structural integrity.  I have to make a note to myself  that if I am leaving the board out in the sun for a any long length of time, it is probably better to leave the white up and blue side down help the board keep its cool.

Hopefully I will be able to get it out a few more times over the Fall season and post some additional reviews.

Data Specs
Length: 12’6″
Width:  30″
Weight:  34 lbs
Volume:  285 Liters
Fin:  FCS SUP Touring 9″
Shaper:  Patrice Remoiville

Program

www.timbrown.us

Naish Glide 12′

Thanks to a combination of the alignment of the stars and some timely contact with Gary Stone at Paddleboard Specialists, Chad Baird at Epic Marketing, and Todd Masinter at Triangle Glides; I picked up a used Naish Glide 12′ standup paddleboard from Todd at Triangle Glides.  I also had some telephone time with local SUP racer Kevin V.  While my wallet and board storage limitations kept me to a 12′ board, it’s probably for the best as I am finding a casual exercise session is more appealing than racing or blowing myself out on a racing board. I think the Glide will be a big move up from the Ocean Kayak Nalu, which is a great beginner board for SUP.

One of things that sold me on the glide was the AST construction that will stand up to a little more abuse than a epoxy only board and a board review by some guys from Italy.  I have been out on the board once since picking it up Tuesday night.  I spent more time finding my sweet spot on the board and only did one quick sprint before calling it a night after six miles in about two hours. Hopefully the weather will hold up for some water time this Saturday morning with my SUP friend Deb Mace and I can comment further on the board’s performance.

Lake Wheeler SUP

I was able to get some time on my Ocean Kayak Nalu at Lake Wheeler today. This was my third time out on the board and first time in the same water with motor boats. Thankfully I did not take a dip, but there were a couple of times that I bent over to get a little help from my arms as the boat waves were coming from the side. When the swells from the boats came from behind, I could see where doing this at the coast could be a real blast given the right conditions. The local company, Triangle Glides, that is starting a SUP rental and lesson business in addition to their Segway tours was supposed to be at the lake for lessons, but I did not see anyone there. I hope they can generate some interest in the sport locally. Wilmington seems to have a decent SUP community at this point with a couple races and some recognition in other paddling events.

As far as the Ocean Kayak Nalu goes, it has been a good board for my needs so far. It is a little heavy, but tracks pretty well as you can see from the GPS data. I put my Garmin Edge bike computer in a dry bag and it seemed to work after I turned off the automatic pause feature. On my first outing with the Nalu this year, I tried sitting and there were two issues. My convertible SUP paddle I bought from Boats To Go (B2G) needs some drip guards. The other issue was my problem with trying to sit and paddle while still needing a lot of work on my core. Hopefully the more I SUP the less of problem that will be.  Speaking of paddles, the Boats To Go convertible paddle was inexpensive and has an option to use the T-Handle or swap it out to make a standard double ended paddle.  I also have the Bic Jungle paddle that I used while trying to SUP using my two old sailboards last year. The Bic blade is a lot stiffer than the B2G paddle blade and has more adjustment on the overall paddle height.  Both of them seem to weigh about the same amount.  The Bic has a smaller diameter than the B2G.  I used the Bic paddle today and will have to give the B2G paddle another try to make a call on which one is better, but my ultimate goal is to get a really nice carbon/fiberglass paddle later on.

Lake Wheeler used to be quick after work water spot back in the 80's when I did a lot of sailboarding. It has some updated facilities and getting the board off of the car and into the water was fairly convenient with two options.  There is a dock for paddlers that sits about 4" above the water.  I used this to launch, but used a little piece of a gravel beach beside it when I came back in and when I relaunched.  The other option is to take the board over to a sandy beach, but it is a little longer walk than the option I took.  This beach also looked like most of the sand had washed away.  The boat launch fee was $6.  This is pretty steep compared to the $2 fee at Lake Crabtree. The other issue here were the boats.  While I could see some folks slowing to cut down on the wake, others were not as considerate.  i also found some people feel invincible on the water and do things they would not normally do, but when I am minding my own business and the guy shoots me the bird to impress his girl, I have to pay them a visit.  Needless to say, his invincibility shrank the closer I got.  But not to let that ruin an otherwise good time, I started time-trialing to a couple buoys to work off the adrenaline. Sadly, I don't think I will be going back to Lake Wheeler unless there is a meetup or some other SUP event there.

Here is the GPS data:

SUP Update

Ocean Kayak NaluHopefully this post will coherent as I am not at this point.  Started the day at 7:00am riding the 48 mile Cup and Cone Tour for the MS Society.  The route included Col de Lystra and Damascus that totally kick butt for climbs and considering the temp was already in the 90's when we started, I was ready to SAG in from the 24 mile turn around.  But I persevered up until a wasp, bee or hornet landed on my lip and stung me right inside my mouth.  Luckily I am not allergic, but I did SAG the last six miles.  From there it was a mad dash home to shower and head over to the Durham REI store for their paddle sale today.  I guess I should elaborate on my previous SUP efforts first.  About a week and half ago another outdoor store held a boat demo and I tried a Surftech Randy French 11.  Compared to my old Hobie Alhpa 230a, it was like standing on a padded carpet floor compared to a Reebok unstable exercise platform.  So I was pretty sure if I could find the right board at the right price, I would buy one.  So back to REI, when I was over there a couple of weeks ago they were handing out flyers for the paddle event today and the deal was 15% off any canoe, Kayak or SUP board.  Now the really interesting thing was they had an Ocean Kayak Nalu hybrid SUP in stock.  This was weird as the REI web site said web only and the site has been out of stock on the Nalu for at least the past week.  So I figured I would show up several hours into the event and find the Nalu sold, but it was my lucky day, front row parking, Nalu in stock, and 15% off plus the dividend I built up when I bought my Bic Jungle Paddle a couple of months ago.  Hopefully I will get some time to try it out this week before the weekend, but it's so dang hot here right now.  Even water sports are not appealing at the moment.  Hopefully a good night's sleep will get me rejuvenated for Sunday.  I will try and review the Nalu after few outings.

Stand Up Paddleboarding SUP

I spent the morning getting my old sailboard, a Hobie Alpha 230a, cleaned up and ready to try out as a Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP).  The only problems found with the old board was the rubber nose cone and daggerboard seals were rotted, but those problems did not keep me from trying it out after lunch.  I went over to a local lake that is limited to sailboats and paddle powered craft and put in at the kayak and canoe launch.  I had forgotten how heavy old sailboards are and barely made it to the water before dropping the board.  The fin on the bottom of the Alpha is a replacement I had to get many years ago before putting it away and is actually well suited for the job as it is a large fin with a shape that is thin where it leaves the box with a large bean shape at the bottom.  Once on the water, I found the board to be pretty tippy, but I headed to the other end of the lake directly into the wind.  I was doing pretty good until about halfway across the lake where I stopped paddling and as the board slowed I lost some stability and took a dip.  Getting back on the board was really hard, but I managed to get on it, stand up and start paddling.  But before going too far, I stopped and kicked the dagger board down.  The daggerboard seemed to help with the stability of the board even if it did cause some drag.  With it down, I made it all the way to the far end of the lake before taking my second dip, but getting back on this time was much easier as the water was only about three feet deep.  I tried to follow the shore to get a little shelter from the wind as I turned back.   My wife Debby showed up and I headed over to the boat rental hut to talk to her for a minute before heading back to the launch to call it a day.

I will have to say the experience was a good one even it did show that I need some gym time to work on lots of muscle groups.  The one thing I know is that being on the water made me realize how much I miss sailboarding.  So I am off to the hardware store in a minute to find something to replace the rubber nose and get some shower door seals to stick on the bottom at the daggerboard box.  Then I have to look at the sail and rigging to see if I need to do any work on those.  I know my Magnum Nova sailboard is unsailable at this point as the rubber mast foot is so rotted that it broke when I barely bumped it and while it could be a candidate for SUP it has V shaped bow and is more narrow than the Alpha.  I am going to try the old board a few more times as a SUP before Great Outdoor Provision Co. has their next demo day on the 17th.  At that point I can compare a new technology board with the old sailboard and see what I am missing, if anything.