Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Testing & Racing New SUP - 404 v3 14' x 24"

Yes, I'm crazy. Although I already own one very nice race paddleboard, a 14' x 27.25" Fanatic Falcon, I decided to buy myself another one, which might be a little faster, in some conditions. The new board is a 14' x 24" 404 v3 - the same kind that superstar Danny Ching uses. Here's how the two boards compare:

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Length- Same

Width- The 404 v3 is 3" narrower than the Fanatic Falcon. In theory, this should make the v3 a couple tenths of a mph faster, but it will be challenging to test that empirically. Pushing my hardest on the Falcon for ~4 miles I would usually average 5.5 mph. But a week before getting the v3 I had a 5.74 mph run on the Falcon, setting the bar for comparison high. My first training run on the v3 I got 5.72, which is better than I usually did on the Falcon but not better than the best I ever did. Since then I've had some more sessions on the 404 but not with comparable conditions. Winds and currents, fins, how hot it is, and the "human element" (like what I had for lunch, and my mood and focus) all make a big difference.

Volume- The Falcon is 294 liters, the v3 is 224 liters.

Weight- The Falcon is about 29 pounds, the v3 is about 21 pounds.

Outline shape- The Falcon is a teardrop shape with a wide and bulbous nose tapering to a very narrow pointy tail. The v3 is more of a bullet shape; pointy in the front and squared off at the back. The Falcon mostly bobs over waves whereas the v3 pokes into them more. The Falcon is more user-friendly in choppy water, with the possible exception of when you're going broadsides to the wind and the bulbous nose is getting pushed downwind.

Deck shape- Both boards have a peaked deck on the nose to shed water after hitting a wave, but the decks differ in the standing area. On the Falcon the deck is flat; flush with the rails. On the v3 the deck is recessed, so your center of gravity is slightly lower but you sometimes get water sloshing around your feet.

Bottom shape- The Falcon has a rounded bottom at the nose becoming flat in the mid section, with slight vee towards the tail. The v3 has a slightly rounded vee in the nose, becoming flat then concave in the mid section and carrying the concave all the way to the tail.

Rail shape- Both boards have rounded rails near the nose, becoming more square in the mid section of the board. But on the Falcon the rails get more rounded again near the tail, whereas on the v3 they get sharper near the tail. The Falcon definitely has a more "displacement" design to the tail whereas tail on the v3 is meant to have a sharper release from the water

Rocker- The Falcon swoops up at the nose, then has a gradual rocker from nose to tail. The v3 has just a slight lift in the nose section, has a long flat mid-section, and then has a pronounced tail rocker from the fin to the rear. Both boards can ride waves and can glide with the wind-swell ("bumps") when going downwind. However, the Falcon catches bumps more automatically and is more forgiving of how far forward or back on the board you're standing when riding them.

The only race I've done on the new board so far was the Noodles Cafe SUP Luau Races in Naples last Saturday. (Picture shows racers lining up before the start.)

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The event was part of a benefit for the Special Olympics of Collier County. They started it with a 5.6 mile competitive race, then later in the day they had family fun races and races for the Special Olympics athletes with learning disabilities.

I chased Mark Athanacio for the whole race, but he gradually pulled away and finished about two minutes ahead. It could have been interesting if I'd positioned myself well and sprinted better at the start so I could draft him. Mark is the guy with the bulging muscles on the blue and green 14' Boga Board in this picture of the race start.

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This picture shows my GPS track from the race.
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Third place was Kevin Hill, one of my teammates on the CGT sup race team. Kevin was riding a 12'6 board and still beat most of the 14' board riders, which is very impressive. This picture shows Kevin, Mark, and I on the podium with the race organizer and one of the Special Olympics athletes.

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Next race is Saturday in Miami. It's an 8.6 mile race around Virginia Key. I'll probably do it on the new 404.


joe windsurfer said...

r u a windsurfer
or SUPper
sorry - could not resist :-)

James Douglass said...

Hi Joe- I'm definitely on a SUP kick now, but I'm still a windsurfer at the core. Planing winds are rare in SW Florida, so SUP is the everyday workout and windsurfing is the special treat.

Unknown said...

What did you think about the stability being that the V3 is 3" narrower than the Fanatic? I'm looking to transition from a suf to a race board. Think that might be too big of a step?

Unknown said...

Good write up!

James Douglass said...

Hi Bryskate68- The V3 design is quite stable for its width. I'd say if you're an avid SUPer under 180 lbs the 24" wide V3 would be fine, and if you're 180+ the 26" wide V3 would be better. You demo the V3 boards at CGT kayaks if you want to come down for one of the summer race series races sometime.

Unknown said...

Cool. I'm about 170 so that could work. I'll be at the CGT race this Sun and will look into trying some boards out. I caught the first one and enjoyed it. Thanks for the response

Pine Lake 404 said...

Hi James, I have raced on the original 12.6 custom monster from 5 years ago and currently ride a custom 14x25.5 404 arrow the last 2+ years. I like the all conditions look of the V3 but don't want to give up any glide or top end speed that the flat water arrow is known for. How are you liking the board now that you have had it awhile and are you choosing to race with it. Ready to ride a 24.

James Douglass said...

Hi Pine Lake- I'll bet that custom 404 arrow is wicked fast on flat water. I doubt you'd lose any flat water speed going to the V3, though. The V3 has quite a flat rocker and the nose shape and bottom shape give it a good blend of piercing/gliding at slower speeds and skimming the surface at higher speeds. The flat rocker through the front and mid section with lots of rocker in the tail wasn't my style, though, so I actually sold the v3 to another guy on the CGT race team and got a 24" wide Fanatic Falcon. It was kind of a subjective, not very scientific decision, based on feel. The guy who bought my v3 is now faster than he ever was before, so I sometimes regret selling it.

Matt Jones said...

Hey James,
Have you seen anyone around 190lbs on the 24" V3? I know I have the balance (my unlimited is 24" and round bottomed) but worry a bit about volume. Thoughts?

James Douglass said...

Hi Matt,

I've seen a 190-200 lb person who normally rides a 26" V3 homemade balance pretty well on the 24" V3 carbon when he tried it in flat water. But he didn't seem like he wanted to switch to it. I'm 170 and I've ridden the 27, 26, and 24 and I think the 26" and 24" are closer to each other in performance than either is to the 27". Also, there are some differences in bottom shape in some sizes of the v3 boards that make them faster, like a "sanded" tail (concave under the tail) which I don't think appears in all the 27" versions.

If I were you I'd get the 25.5". I think that would be the safest bet to be competitive in all conditions at your weight. Ask the dealer to make sure the model you get is the latest, with the sanded tail.


Unknown said...

so you are now back to a Fanatic!
sort of hidden in your blog...
nice to know...