More Speed....

As I’ve said before, I’m new to this SUP thing, but I’m loving it.

I’d like to get faster (haven’t raced yet, but planning on it), and was wondering if board and paddle selections place limits on speed similar to kayak and canoes.

I’m paddling a 12’1" Surftech Softtop with a Werner Carve paddle, and it feels like that even with better conditioning this combination won’t push much past 4 mph. Am I crazy, and just need to paddle more and work on stroke technique and conditioning?

Speaking of stroke technique, in marathon canoe racing the emphasis is on higher cadence to create speed. Does this apply to paddleboards too, and thus demand perhaps a smaller paddle for a higher cadence?

Speed question
I know little about paddle boards. Here are some thoughts, though.

To go faster than displacement speed, you will need to plane. You can easily plane by surfing down a wave, or attaching some sort of sail/kite, as proved by surfers and windsurfers. I believe it would be very difficult to plane under paddle alone - particularly to sustain a planing attitude during the recovery phase of the stroke, particularly when such a long paddle is used. There was a hydrofoil kayak that allowed this, but it was with an extreme high-angle racing stroke.

So, if SUP’s have to follow the same laws of physics, I’m thinking a 12’ board will indeed be a bit pokey, especially when compared to racing kayaks/canoes which have l/w ratios that surpass any SUP i’ve seen (though I haven’t seen many). Put another way - the higher your centre of gravity, the more stable your craft will need to be, which means it will need to be wider, which will mess with your l/w ration, unless you lengthen the craft, which will mess with your skin friction and maneuverability.

I’m not against paddleboards if people want to have a bit of fun. However, I see them as beach toys more than boats, and find the industry push to use them for tripping and racing and whitewater and such to be a bit silly.

Another way to enjoy the water
That’s how I see them, I paddle canoes, kayaks and even own a rowboat.

Additionally, when I look to get a workout from paddling more often than not the GRB Classic XL stays at home, and I get the paddleboard. Don’t get me wrong I won’t get rid of my canoes, but the paddleboard definitely has its advantages, especially giving a more complete workout.

Board dependent to a point
I was at an amateur SUP race last weekend where the top finishers did a 5-mile course in under an hour, including waves, wind, and buoy turns. Many had 14’ boards, and some had 12’6" boards, all race-style or BOP (“Battle of the Paddle”) style boards. All the “surfboard” style SUPs lagged way behind.

More Speed…
Board selection definitely plays a roll if you’re competing against kayaks and canoes with the board you’re currently using. I have the same board, and compared to racing SUP, it’s pretty slow. You should with a good fast race sup and an efficient stroke get your speed up a few knots.

The race/touring style sups much like a kayak or canoe have a pointed nose which is far more efficient than a rounded nose. also easier to paddle upwind and through waves. aim for a 14’ or longer board, and a width stable enough to paddle comfortably yet not too wide to slow you down. Check out the Bark board and similar designs.

Paddle style doesn’t affect as much and there’s varying different opinions on whether to use a narrow or wider blade width, etc. definitely a carbon paddle is easier to hold and ultimately faster than a glass or alloy design. I use the werner nitro which does well for speed.

a fast tahitian stroke use to be the thing, but not many are using a shorter cadence for starts and finishes in races, often holding the paddle at the shaft to help get a shorter cadence with a longer paddle. definitely take out at or before your feet.

with a fast racing board, carbon paddle, and a great forward stroke, your spee will def pick up. learn to paddle on one side or limit how often you need to change hands. this is best done by keeping your paddle shaft vertical while padding the board’s rail.