I haven't paddled enough 14' SUPs to write a comparative review; I'll just detail my buying and paddling experience.
I paddle for fitness, generally out and back, from various places around Perth and have been looking at 14' SUPs for a while to enable me to make the most of my limited time in the windier conditions we get in Perth.
I also wanted a light board to make transport and handling easier.
There were a number of well priced secondhand 26" boards available, but I felt, and the general advice I received (thanks seabreeze), that these were too narrow for me. The YOB Bathurst Downwinder ticked a number of boxes, I could demo paddle and was well priced. The service I received from Sally and Lach at the YOB Australia shop was great. Even though it was near the end of the day and the demo boards had been packed away, a few strings were pulled to enable me to take a 14x27 Bathurst downwinder in perfect conditions for testing. I hadn't paddled for a few weeks and I was paddling in the river into a 10kn sea breeze with gusts over 15kn with the added fun of boat wakes. In these choppy conditions - not what I would regularly paddle in - I found the board quite twitchy, but it had great secondary stability and I came close, but didn't fall in!
I arrived back at the YOB store and received a great deal for a SUP, leash, paddle (I tested this as well) and an upgrade to a click-in fin (a great invention).
I've since tested myself in challenging conditions (with swims this time!) and relatively flat water and I am very happy with the way the board goes. I'm getting used to moving around the board and finding my way to the back (and it's a long way back after paddling a 9'8) for some pivot turns.
I'll post an update when I have paddled some more.
The web site provides more information for anyone interested and here are some pictures
Interesting. I haven't seen a YOB over in Qld. Thanks for the post.
Just an update after a few paddles. I am really happy so far.
I paddled a few of my 'q shape' 5km out and back paddles where I always plan to paddle with the wind to my advantage. One of these started into a 20km/hr headwind and while it was tough paddling, especially in the gusts, the 'downwind' was great with the extra length helping to paddle over the wind chop. I would never have attempted this on my shorter board.
I did make a mistake with one paddle where I felt the wind direction would not make much of a difference ... only to end up with a long paddle up river against an additional tidal flow! This was tough but manageable on my Bathurst, but would have been really tough on my short board.
If you do paddle more wind affected flattish water out and back, a 14' board will make things a lot easier and get you out more. There are many great 14' boards available - I think I've got one of them!!
A final update now I've been paddling for a few months; I am still very happy with my SUP.
To be honest, the major benefit is the length. I can still paddle an out and back course that would have been too hard for me in windy conditions on previous SUP.
This morning I paddled out directly into a 12kn wind, gusting to 17kn, and was surprised that I completed the first couple of kms with some gas left in the tank. The next section was relatively windless as the river turned 90' for the 'round the island' section before the down breeze leg home. As usual, the wind dropped a tad and I completed the 6.5 km course around the usual time.
I find the Bathurst almost a km/h faster on the out and back courses I paddle, but I can paddle more often as a headwind is less of an issue. The SUP handles (small river) cross chop surprisingly well, is relatively unaffected by the wind and seems to 'break free' and is easier to paddle once I hit a good top speed ...unfortunately I'm not fit enough to maintain the extra power to really benefit, but I'm guessing that this would kick in on a downwind paddle. I find the stability is great for a 27" board and I'm sure that the slight dugout helps.