Caveat Emptor: I am a Starboard fanboy. I own three Starboard models: the 10' Whopper Carbon, 9' Hero carbon and 8'6" HyperNut Carbon. As usual, all my reviews are solely my opinion based on my 50 years of surfing, 14 of those on SUPs. I am 65 years old, 6' tall and tip the scales at just under 110 kg. I am fairly fit for my age and weight.
On to the review. It floats, it paddles, it turns. What more do you want? End of review.
Just kidding. This is the 4th Jimmy Lewis I've tested and reviewed and the only one I would consider trading in my Starboard quiver for. The board is a thruster/quad setup but I only used the thruster version. The rails are sharper than on the Whopper, the lines are pulled in more like a longboard ending in a rounded pintail, the fins are small but functional, and the deck grip is aggressive and makes you feel like you're attached to the board with super glue. At 145L most riders up to 110kg like me will be comfortable. The only time I fell off the board was when I stayed out too long, lost my core stability and just fell off for no reason. That's when I know I'm tired and should go in.
I tested the board in 1' onshore bumpy rubbish and it was stable but didn't bob around like a cork as my Whopper would have. It paddled on to waves easily and glided along sections fast too help me link up the bumpy bits so I regularly rode the one footers all the way to the beach. The board has some performance rocker but feels flat when you're standing on it in the water. It helped with the stability but didn't detract from the functionality of the slight nose rocker. At one point I took off, the whole nose buried under water and I had a second to contemplate my immediate future before the momentum pushed the nose up and out and I kept going. I love it when that happens. A normally crappy surf became enjoyable on the Destroyer HP and I didn't feel seasick afterwards by getting thrown around like a cork.
My next surf was the following day, and the waves were 2' and clean. The board came alive. Once again it paddled onto waves easily, but I immediately noticed that the board held speed through the wave, allowing me to do some easy off-the-lips and roundhouse and layback cutbacks. It made sections effortlessly and turned on a 5c piece. As the tide dropped and rocks started getting a little too intrusive the smaller fins allowed me to float across the danger zone without scraping. I had a few locals check out the board when I came in and they all admired the simple clean lines and the basic design of the board. One of them came around to my house later that afternoon to have a closer look and brought his 10' Smik around to compare it more closely.
Finally, I got the Destroyer HP out in 2'-3' reef break. The swell didn't have enough in it to break out further, so we were taking off as the wave hit the reef and jacked up. The Destroyer HP felt like it had the quad setup as it just clung to the face and I set my line and it flew down the wall like it was on a mission. The board negotiated the continuous bowl with speed and stability making it feel like I was riding on rails. I felt sure-footed and confident and enjoyed the quick window of opportunity before the dropping tide forced us to move further away from the reef. As before, the Destroyer HP turned at will and at no time did I feel the rails bog down on a sweeping turn. The speed was maintained throughout each manoeuvre giving me the confidence to complete the turn.
Who would like this SUP?
There are a growing population of older surfers who can still throw around a board, like to get out in varying conditions but prefer the clean stuff, enjoy standing comfortably on a SUP rather than struggling or bobbing around, and appreciate a light, well-constructed SUP with simple lines that work and a basic colour scheme that is appealing but not too garish.
There are also 10' divisions in many SUP surf events and youngsters (you know who you are) who want to compete now have a very attractive alternative to bigger, wider, boatier (is that a word?) options. I can only imagine what someone could do on the Destroyer HP who is younger, lighter and fitter than I.
The often-neglected realm of ladies who SUP would really enjoy the Destroyer HP. Its deep handle provides good grip and the light weight of the board would not tax the ladies as they made their way to the sand. The excellent deck grip combined with the ease of turning would appeal and the 31.5" width would provide sure-footed stability when paddling or just standing around waiting for the next set.
To conclude, I can't find a con to report but the many pros make this model the pick of the range in my opinion. If you can, get hold of one to try it for yourself. I'm confident you won't be disappointed.
Now. Anyone in the market for a good used Starboard?
Thanks Wodenau for the excellent review. Good detail from the perspective of a variety of conditions. Of the JL boards the Destroyer's interest me the most. I think I need a 10 footer!
Wodenau,great review,how good is it when you find the right board/brand !,there's nothing like a good board clean out ,I totally agree with your statement of,well constructed simple design that works,KISS principle has always worked for me