We all purchase a paddleboard for similar reasons, such as, to get out on the water, have some solitude, challenge ourselves, access new areas, or get some exercise. We trust that the designs that are put in front of us are the best available. Are they? You should ask yourself and others often. Our little sport needs to evolve and grow. And there is room for it.
Let’s take one thing we do with our boards. A rail draw. And look at what it does and how our board helps or hinders us in doing this.
The rail draw moves our board to the side or sideways. It is great to get closer to a dock, the shore, each other, etc. We are just reaching out with our paddle, grabbing some water and pulling ourselves and our board over. Sometimes it works great, others not so much. The nose or tail can move faster than the other. We can end up getting the nose or tail closer to the object we are attempting to approach. Not ourselves, which in most cases is the intention.
Test your skills and your board’s design. Next time you are on the water, reach out next to your feet and try a draw. Observe and see if the nose of your board moves more than the center or tail. This happens because of our fin that is way in the back. This is a leftover from SUP’s, much more recent roots, surfing (on an ocean wave). If you are truly using your board for flat(ter) water and the surf, this may be an acceptable compromise. If you use your board primary for paddling for exercise, fishing, touring, recreation, family outings, etc., (and most do) there is a much better option. A better fin placement (location) and a better fin (another post later). The placement of our fin should help us paddle in a reasonably straight line, help us make easier turns, AND make strokes like a rail draw easier to accomplish and more effective.
A further forward fin placement accomplishes this. Not moving it forward in your fin box. That is a tiny amount of adjustment relative to the length of your board. I am talking about a few feet forward. A fin forward placement gives the best blend of tracking, turning and lateral movement (rail draws). Our A’u 12’6 and 14′ designs have this fin forward placement. There are very very few (in case I missed one, I have not seen any) if any other boards on the market with this fin location. We will see more.