While my pro-windsurfer neighbor Josh Angulo was away this week at a PWA event in Aruba, I got to use and share his van full of water toys. Angulo's stand-up paddleboards saw the most use, because the wind was usually too light for shortboard windsurfing.
Despite my initial skepticism about s.u.p., I'm becoming more of a fan now that I've had a chance to try some "real" sup boards in proper waves. (My only previous sup experience was on the Kona ONE windsurfing longboard.) The sups make it easy for even a kooky non-surfer like me to catch and ride waves. Compared to a normal surfboard a sup can get going on smaller waves, and can catch waves further offshore and longer before they break. It's also quicker to get from point A to point B by paddling a sup than by swimming a surfboard. The upshot is that you can catch a lot of waves and get good long rides on a sup in conditions that would be lousy for regular surfing. The downside is that the big sup boards are less maneuverable on the waves, but I don't mind that at this point.
I've noticed that some windsurfing skills help with sup, while others don't translate. A windsurfer's practiced ability to balance on a floating board in choppy seas helps a lot. But a windsurfing habit that doesn't work for sup is moving back on the board as it accelerates. On a sup, moving back too far can kill your speed suddenly because the tail rocker is different and because there's no sail acting as a "third leg" to keep your weight forward. Angulo's soft-top 9'8" sup has a lot of tail rocker so the stalling effect is most obvious on that, whereas his 10'8" thruster sup accelerates a little more like a windsurf board because it has less tail rocker.
My best sup session this week was actually a windsurfing session on the 10'8", which comes with a mast-track. The wind was side-onshore at a mellow 5-15 mph, and the waves were about 3' high. I used a 6.3 GunSails "Toro," which wasn't enough to get the board planing, but had plenty of juice to drive the board out through the waves, and to catch the waves on the way in. The video is below...
This board got sold out from under me yesterday, but Angulo has some more sups with mast tracks coming in soon. I'm curious to try some of the slightly smaller sizes, and to experiment around with different fin setups to see if they can get more windsurf-like planing performance. Talk to Josh if you want to demo or buy one of his sups or windsurf boards. His email is joshangulo at mac dot com.