Five of the best stand-up paddleboards

Stand-up paddleboards have become de rigueur among leisure-seekers and aggressive athletes alike.

By Livia Hooson 29/07/2017

Skyrocketing in popularity over the past several years, stand-up paddleboards (SUPs) have become de rigueur among leisure-seekers and aggressive athletes alike.

The sport is derived from a combination of surfing and canoeing and has made a worldwide name for itself because of its accessibility to novices and range of uses, from cruising flatwater to carving waves. Whether you are traversing the Hawaiian coves of Oahu or shredding the salty Aegean Sea, these five boards are wonderful representatives of paddleboarding’s impressive versatility.

From inflatables to whitewater gliders, environmentally-conscious boards to carbon-clad speed demons—and even a paddleboard that will look right at home on your wooden runabout — these SUPS will give you a new sense of freedom on the water.

Chris Craft x Tower Inflatable iSUP

US boat builder Chris Craft has been designing classically styled sport boats for nearly 150 years, and now has entered the SUP arena and brought along its inimitable sense of style.

Their recent collaboration with Tower Paddle Boards blends the aesthetics of a Chris Craft runabout with the proven quality of a Tower board, resulting in a floating, transportable, military-grade design.

When blown up to full capacity, the Chris Craft Edition ($US1785 or $A2235) is 3.05 metres tall and 15cm thick, with a rigid durability that blows other inflatable boards out of the water. The deck pad resembles the wooden teak one would see on a Chris Craft boat and has the floatability to carry its rider across oceans, lakes, and marinas.

This sleek addition to your watercraft will provide hours of entertainment, comes in a convenient stow-able design, and includes a carbon Kevlar 3-piece paddle, detachable fin, high-pressure hand-pump, and a cargo net for storage.

Glide Lochsa Whitewater Board

One of this summer’s hottest travel trends, river cruises are great ways to take in some of the most captivating landscapes in the world — think Cambodia’s Mekong and Peru’s Amazon. Perhaps the only better way to enjoy these exotic environments is by paddle, becoming one with the surrounding falls and white-water rapids.

We recommend taking the American-made, 2.90-metre Glide Lochsa Whitewater board ($US1299 or $A1625) out for a thrilling journey on your favorite waterway. Glide tapped its 40 years of kayak-building experience when designing the 16-kilogram SUP, ensuring the board can make easy eddy line transitions and giving it a bullet nose for smooth exits out of white-capped rapids. The board is treated with a durable coating to withstand the river’s abrasive elements.

Glide also makes an adjustable paddle ($US199 or $A250) that pairs well with the SUP and ensures a powerful stroke thanks to its fiberglass shaft and reinforced blade.

2017 Starboard All Star

“Starboard is the most exciting SUP brand worldwide right now, with innovative designs and the desire to re-invent themselves each year,” raves Jeff Morter, owner of Paddle Surf Warehouse in Costa Mesa, California, in regards to the brand for which every paddler is pining.

The Starboard All Star ($US3399 or $AU4255, with board bag) is endorsed by a number of SUP world champions because of its lightweight carbon exterior and versatility in all water conditions, giving the rider steady control with rapid agility. A flex-controlled oscillation helps the board recoil on the upstroke, releasing energy for quick propulsion. Three concave sections on the bottom rails of the board simulate two pontoons, making it difficult to capsize mid-cruise.

This design is thoughtfully crafted with the environment in mind by using an ocean-friendly, plant-based epoxy resin, though this conscientiousness in no way compromises the user experience. The board comes in a variety of sizes to accommodate various rider heights and weights ensuring each individual can become a master of the SUP.

Naish Glide GTW Touring Board

For the SUP tourer seeking a paddleboard for long distance and stable manoeuvres, the Naish Glide Touring Board ($US2439 or $A3050) is an excellent entry-level option.

Designed for a range of conditions, from turbulent ocean waves to rapid river waters, the Touring Board has a wide nose and single-concave tail for head to toe stability. A displacement bow helps the rider cut through choppy water while providing directional support for precise turns. Standing 3.65 metres tall and weighing in at 12.2 kilograms, the formidable board has a wooden bottom and glass deck paired with a lightweight cell core made of molded foam, making it resilient to the elements while maintaining an impressive strength-to-weight ratio. The tribal print on the top of the board’s vibrant yellow body lends a dash of style to what is normally a purely utilitarian piece of athletic equipment.

One should not forget, however, that half the equation for having a successful outing is having a carefully crafted paddle. The Carbon Plus is a paddle built for performance, giving flex where it’s needed and a stiff grip for controlled speed. Equipped with five blade sizes and an adjustable or fixed handle, the 100 per cent unidirectional carbon fibre blade is a durable beast. For longer jaunts, attach the company’s cargo net (sold separately), which plugs into the nose area of the board.

Focus Tundra Paddleboard

Calling all globetrotting paddlers! This 3.65-metre beauty steals glances on and off the water with its cerulean body, fibreglass and epoxy wooden top, and royal blue traction pad.

When a board comes from California-based brand Focus SUP Hawaii — sponsor to Mo Freitas, one of the world’s leading riders — there is good reason to be excited. Weighing 12.7 kilograms, the Focus Tundra Paddle Board ($US1530 or $A1915) is an all-in-one SUP equipped with a GoPro camera mount and bungee system for carrying a day-pack.

Blending cruising and surfing capabilities, the hybrid design incorporates a slight displacement nose for speed and tracking as well as a narrow tip for carving ocean terrain. It is an approachable board for novice paddlers but also appreciated by skilled riders who know quality when they feel it. A Focus SUP that the company bills as its ideal board for exploring is something we can certainly get behind — a next-generation cruiser that appeases our lust for good looks.

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