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…
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.
Weight: 34 lbs
Volume: 285 Liters
Fin: FCS SUP Touring 9″
Shaper: Patrice Remoiville