I'm trying to plan a choice for a downwind board. My age, intended use, reading and discussions point me at stability being of high importance for fun factor, but then I'm super keen on speed and glide. It appears I can acquire a couple of different 17'4" SICs in VGC for very reasonable price, but I keep eyeing the Bullet V2 online as being perhaps more usable. i.e. range of swell size, usability. But there's no option for me to acquire a V2 14 at other than full price, which is much more commitment.
Any experienced thoughts on the two sizes regarding performance & use? My intended water is ocean or rivermouth, maybe bay, rarely lake. Currently I ride and surf an 11'Nalu.
Where are you paddling and are you good at moving around on the board?
Maybe another option is going dugout as they may seem a little scary but they are ssssooo much easier and require way less input than a flat deck.
The down side is if you fall out they are apparently harder to get back into for some but the speed and feeling make up for this.
We make a 17'11 x 26 that I think is amazing for DW, it's crazy stable fast as hell and in stock.
I'm ok at moving around. I can nose ride and control my 11' in our, at times, hollow beach break [as spooky as that can get, I do prefer rollers for the sup, or simply take my surfboard instead]. So at the moment I'm more content with the idea of moving around back and forth, than with climbing over a gunwhale. I was thinking that the FAST system may help with the amount of movement, and speed, as well, and I'll avoid hollow breaks.
Something I do consider is whether certain boards may get picked up off the surface when free in strong wind. I've had mine picked up and thrown at me in 25knt winds - I wasn't really ready for that bit, at all, injury attesting.
Paddle places for this are TBA due to so much square to ocean coast, but essentialy ocean headland starts with a Nth or Sth wind, and the ends of islands for easterley, sharks permitting along SE Qld islands. More rare are the very few outer banks or maybe an around Old Woman.
From reading I cant really tell if the 14 V2 is a better downwind than a 17'4", unless a huge swell is running? Or maybe the opposite.
I think more and more places will be identified for downwind as time goes on. I've sailed in some crazy downwind swells alongside and between certain pacific islands.
14ft v2 or unlimited is such a easy answer if the main goal is DW and to go fast and the answer is Unlimited all the way. 14ft boards can be fun but nothing compares to how good a unlimited can work.
The reason I also say about moving around on the board is important is it is, even me who I feel is maybe above average(just) and I can move pretty good still cant make a flat deck board work anywhere near as good as I can my Dugout. It's not just moving it keeping the board trimmed while adding power, guys like Conner Baxter maybe able to but IMO 99% of people are not at that kind of level and maybe even Connor could have done better if he had been on a good dugout the last 2 years at molokai.
Any DW unlimited will be a improvement on a 14 but there are differences as well in the big boards and you only have to look at what most guys are going to these days and not many choose a flat decks when it comes to the big races.
If you have pumping conditions where you are standing on the tail all the time then the big planning type boards are good and can work fine but for the conditions we get in QLD I know what I would rather paddle.
If those are your choices then buy the 17'4 as it will be so much better than the 14 V2 which I know is pretty popular but I feel it's a real slug.
also be careful with the FAST system as our finer sand clogs that sucker up real quick and can cause quite a few issues.
When it comes to rudder the best rule to stick to is Keep it simple!!
What weight are you, and what conditions (wind, swell) are you going to be paddling in?
Before buying a dugout, make sure you try one. Some people love them, but some people really don't like them (often especially those with a surf background, perhaps). It also depends whether out-and-out speed or enjoyment/convenience is your aim.
I had both boards (Bullet 14'0 V2 and Bullet 17'4 FAST). For regular use (light downwind, surfing, touring, etc) the 14 is a much versatile and easy to use board, I even scored a few sessions with perfect waves with it. But the 17'4 is a downwind machine. It works better with stronger winds and swell, and when it's nuking you feel like you're riding a tanker that simply crushes everything the ocean throws at you. I also do river downwinds in the big winter storms and the 17'4 performs really well (the nose rocker helps the board to fit in smaller bumps).
As for the FAST system, it's really simple and easy to use. You can even change from goofy to regular (or vice-versa) in probably a minute with no hassles. The system is very well design and I never had a problem with it.
But if you're a lightweight paddler looking for a board for light to medium downwind conditions you will be probably better off with the 14 V2.
I'm currently 95 kg. At best I'll get down to 85kg, so never really what you would call lightweight. Im a surfer so generally ok with flat deck. SE Qld to Central Qld ocean swell will probably be the most common use, plus river paddle with the missus, or maybe an adventure upstream which I'm sure either would handle.
I had a 14 V2 plus an array of downwind SICs - said good by to them all. All went down hill well however most of my paddles included upwind and cross wind stretches. There are far more enjoyable/suitable all round boards out there, flat or dugout. Check out NSP, DC, ONE, Sunova, Deep, Starboard and Fanatic.
Nothing worse than slapping along trying to go uphill on a downwind specific board like you are suggesting.
Plenty of allround/ocean boards that go great up and downwind and still good on flat water
17'4" FAST is the way to go. Just make sure you wash with fresh water after each use and you will be right. I used to downwind on dugouts exclusively but it's just not the same feeling. Might be faster in a race but does anyone really care about racing these days?