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Small SUP boards, a sobering experience

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Created by colas 24 days ago, 24 Jul 2019
colas
3310 posts
24 Jul 2019 3:32PM
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Yesterday I got an interesting - but somewhat humiliating - experience.

I nearly only ride SUP Gong boards, which have been a pioneer in very short SUPs, but whose shaper, Patrice Guenole, is a longboard lover and tend to make boards with widish tips and fast rockers. In 2016 however, he briefly designed his performance short SUP, the Fatal, with a narrow nose and very narrow tail, and heaps of rocker.

I got a 7'3"x28"x 110 liters one, and after some initial struggles, it became my favorite board, to this day the smoothest board I ever experienced in powerful hollow waves. However, at the end of 2016 the new Fatal came out with a semi-square (diamond) nose (a bit on my request), and a faster rocker. The gain in safety in hairy drops and speed in turns was so great that I never used the "pointy" Fatal again. And Gong boards since kept with what Patrice likes: some width in the tips and fast rockers. However I could not resell my old Fatal, I loved too much the construction (simple glassing with carbon fishnet) and the shape (as a prototype the rails were work of art), so I decided to always keep it, if only on a wall.

But yesterday, I decided to ride my old Fatal again, to try it with Quobba fins to see if I could get some decent speed in turns. Waves were small (waist high), but there was a bit of chop. And... I could not stand on it anymore ! I stood up and immediately fall, hundred of times. I managed to catch some waves by standing up just before takeoff, but called it quits before one hour.

My currently favorite boards have both a bit less volume (105 liters for my current 97kg), but have wider tips and are either longer or wider. But standing on them is now easy for me. It seems that with a tad less volume, when I roll with them the board goes down in the water, dampening the movement, whereas on my 2016 Fatal, its center stays on the surface, and the the boards rolls more frankly, and the narrow tips makes it react also much more violently to any movement. The huge constant rocker also made it very sensitive. All in all, at my age, the technical investment in it does not seem worthwhile anymore, given my current quiver of 6 faster and easier boards. Plus I would not like to lose my balance on other boards by trying to re-tame this 2016 Fatal.

So, the lessons I learnt:
- Balance can be lost without regular practice
- Balance on small boards can be very different depending on the shape of the board. Practicing on one board does not mean you can keep your balance on different boards of similar size
- Thin tips are hell for balance. But they are so smooth in hollow waves...
- Balance on narrow nosed boards can be improved with a widish center section and tail (as on the Gong Alley, which has a more pulled in nose than my Fatal but is much easier to balance on with its wider tail)
- Differences in shape can mean huge differences in difficulty, even if the general dims are comparable.

Here is the "culprit" at the center. From left to right:
- Gong Karmen 7'11" x 28"3/4 x 105l One foot offs:49.1cm x 46.5cm rocker: 26.2cm
- Gong Fatal 2016 7'3" x 28" x 110l One foot offs:46.8cm x 43.4cm rocker 26.6cm
- Gong Fatal 2017 7'3" x 29"3/4 x 105l One foot offs:53.1cm x 49.7cm rocker 25.2cm


A vid of me on each one from right to left:





rockmagnet
QLD, 1215 posts
24 Jul 2019 6:37PM
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colas said..
Yesterday I got an interesting - but somewhat humiliating - experience.

I nearly only ride SUP Gong boards, which have been a pioneer in very short SUPs, but whose shaper, Patrice Guenole, is a longboard lover and tend to make boards with widish tips and fast rockers. In 2016 however, he briefly designed his performance short SUP, the Fatal, with a narrow nose and very narrow tail, and heaps of rocker.

I got a 7'3"x28"x 110 liters one, and after some initial struggles, it became my favorite board, to this day the smoothest board I ever experienced in powerful hollow waves. However, at the end of 2016 the new Fatal came out with a semi-square (diamond) nose (a bit on my request), and a faster rocker. The gain in safety in hairy drops and speed in turns was so great that I never used the "pointy" Fatal again. And Gong boards since kept with what Patrice likes: some width in the tips and fast rockers. However I could not resell my old Fatal, I loved too much the construction (simple glassing with carbon fishnet) and the shape (as a prototype the rails were work of art), so I decided to always keep it, if only on a wall.

But yesterday, I decided to ride my old Fatal again, to try it with Quobba fins to see if I could get some decent speed in turns. Waves were small (waist high), but there was a bit of chop. And... I could not stand on it anymore ! I stood up and immediately fall, hundred of times. I managed to catch some waves by standing up just before takeoff, but called it quits before one hour.

My currently favorite boards have both a bit less volume (105 liters for my current 97kg), but have wider tips and are either longer or wider. But standing on them is now easy for me. It seems that with a tad less volume, when I roll with them the board goes down in the water, dampening the movement, whereas on my 2016 Fatal, its center stays on the surface, and the the boards rolls more frankly, and the narrow tips makes it react also much more violently to any movement. The huge constant rocker also made it very sensitive. All in all, at my age, the technical investment in it does not seem worthwhile anymore, given my current quiver of 6 faster and easier boards. Plus I would not like to lose my balance on other boards by trying to re-tame this 2016 Fatal.

So, the lessons I learnt:
- Balance can be lost without regular practice
- Balance on small boards can be very different depending on the shape of the board. Practicing on one board does not mean you can keep your balance on different boards of similar size
- Thin tips are hell for balance. But they are so smooth in hollow waves...
- Balance on narrow nosed boards can be improved with a widish center section and tail (as on the Gong Alley, which has a more pulled in nose than my Fatal but is much easier to balance on with its wider tail)
- Differences in shape can mean huge differences in difficulty, even if the general dims are comparable.

Here is the "culprit" at the center. From left to right:
- Gong Karmen 7'11" x 28"3/4 x 105l One foot offs:49.1cm x 46.5cm rocker: 26.2cm
- Gong Fatal 2016 7'3" x 28" x 110l One foot offs:46.8cm x 43.4cm rocker 26.6cm
- Gong Fatal 2017 7'3" x 29"3/4 x 105l One foot offs:53.1cm x 49.7cm rocker 25.2cm


A vid of me on each one from right to left:







Is that Asterix

GreenTea
23 posts
24 Jul 2019 5:00PM
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You are the King of Seabreeze.

Very interesting.

I thought my 8'2 was short.

JEG
VIC, 1206 posts
24 Jul 2019 7:04PM
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Yes small board syndrome but I came out of it a mixed bag of frustration and lots of smiles

Souwester
WA, 975 posts
24 Jul 2019 8:29PM
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Great post Colas, i agree that you can lose conditioning quickly between boards and even generally if you have not had a session in a while.

I am having a bit of a SUP drought atm, going to be fun and games when I get back on the horse but I just accept it will be a bit of a learning curve...again

supsean
28 posts
24 Jul 2019 11:43PM
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From an intermediate's perspective it is huge to learn from such an advanced rider that really shape matters as much as volume for balance.

SunnyBouy
349 posts
25 Jul 2019 1:12AM
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- Balance can be lost without regular practice - too true, regular practice is key.. even in flat water.
- Balance on small boards can be very different depending on the shape of the board. Practicing on one board does not mean you can keep your balance on different boards of similar size - too true, I find it best if I've not been on one of my boards, to take it in flat water and do a few hours on it spinning and remembering where the balance points are.
- Differences in shape can mean huge differences in difficulty, even if the general dims are comparable - agree, even the next size down in range can be vastly different.

Great post, neat vids.. you certainly can rock those waves..

supsean
28 posts
26 Jul 2019 2:49AM
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Another thing that I recently noticed after I did 2 sessions on my higher volume board, I got tippy when I got back on my smaller one. It took a little while to get back into the groove. Ones muscle memory gets dialed in on SUPs for sure.

BigZ
34 posts
26 Jul 2019 4:46AM
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supsean said..
Another thing that I recently noticed after I did 2 sessions on my higher volume board, I got tippy when I got back on my smaller one. It took a little while to get back into the groove. Ones muscle memory gets dialed in on SUPs for sure.


That's why having too many boards may be counter-productive to progression - at least this is what my wife tells me ...

Kami
1392 posts
26 Jul 2019 5:34AM
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BigZ said..


supsean said..
Another thing that I recently noticed after I did 2 sessions on my higher volume board, I got tippy when I got back on my smaller one. It took a little while to get back into the groove. Ones muscle memory gets dialed in on SUPs for sure.




That's why having too many boards may be counter-productive to progression - at least this is what my wife tells me ...



Tell her that you need as many boards that wave conditions and sizes you can encounter. For instance, I cant understand why Colas has 3 different boards for almost the same wave conditions.
Still a good concern about how tippy it has to afford to get the better surfing available at a given day.

But I'm divorced, BigZ

Gboots
NSW, 703 posts
26 Jul 2019 10:02AM
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Usually ride 123L Acid .
About to drop to 83L Flow.
so what's Scuba diving like ?

Souwester
WA, 975 posts
26 Jul 2019 1:07PM
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I also try and go out in a lot of different conditions, windy, choppy and messy conditions really tunes in your balance.

When it is a bit cleaner I noticed I was a lot more agile and able to get around a lot easier then crew who bail when it is not clean.

paperboy
NSW, 93 posts
26 Jul 2019 3:53PM
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im wondering at 7 3 x 28 where is the extra foam to get 110 litres.
How thick is it ?

colas
3310 posts
26 Jul 2019 2:29PM
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paperboy said..
im wondering at 7 3 x 28 where is the extra foam to get 110 litres.
How thick is it ?


The trick is to place the foam away from the rails, near the center and forward of the handle. Patrice has made 100+ liters sub-7' SUP for twelve years now, so he has the experience on how to shape big volumes into small responsive shapes. Domed decks or step rails are examples of solutions.

The drawback is that you have a feeling of being high above the water, (5"+ at the stringer) but properly shaped rails can hold surprisingly well in power, even with some volume.

Views from the side:



exiled
233 posts
26 Jul 2019 5:07PM
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How Patrice is the only shaper in the world who has figured this out always amazes me.

I say that because volume matters too. I lost 15kg and have been amazed how easy it is to balance on some boards that were previously unmanageable. The difference between a 1.1 ratio and a 1.2 ratio made a world of difference.

colas
3310 posts
26 Jul 2019 5:44PM
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exiled said..
How Patrice is the only shaper in the world who has figured this out always amazes me.


It (in part) is because he lived in Marseilles, then has been "trapped" in Corsica for a while (his wife had a job there), and had to innovate to come up with SUP designs that worked well also in very small fickle waves. Shapers who only test designs in goods waves do not have a lot of incentive to innovate as everything work there, and on the opposite can come up with gimmicks that are not really useful for "real world" conditions.

supthecreek
1747 posts
26 Jul 2019 11:17PM
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Good conversation colas and good vids!

While volume is necessary, I tell people that the shape you chose will have more affect on stability than the volume.
More surface area on the water overrules volume IMO
Your Karmen has vastly more surface are than your original Fatal, so I am not at all surprised that it is more stable at less volume.
I am constantly amazed at what you can stand on

In my "longboard/shortboard" days... I carried both to the beach and swapped back and forth until I was able to go big/small without struggling to re-adapt to small. I created sort of a set of "chips" in my head that switched automatically, when I dramatically changed board sizes.

On another note:
To me personally.... I much preferred your surfing on the Karmen.
Smoother, with no loss of speed during cutbacks or soft spots on the wave. The completeness of the ride seemed much more pleasing because it stayed "powered up" from start to finish.

Nice waves on the original Fatal!

I am still glad that you are on the wave coast now and getting to rip such nice conditions

colas
3310 posts
26 Jul 2019 11:40PM
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supthecreek said..
I am constantly amazed at what you can stand on


Well, thanks a lot, but I kind of cheat... I do not like chop, so I tend to not get out if there is chop :-)
Also I always have boards with comfortable width.

Yes, this is what I love on the Karmen: it encourages you to keep your speed at all times, you feel it perform so much better at speed. The new Fatal is different, something clicks when you really commit to turns, but it is harder to do consistently. I guess it is also the same with your sunovas, part of the fun is trying to adapt to your "dancing partner" which is the board...

Now if only I could get rid of my main problem: not turning my head towards where I plan to go...

Funnsurfn
NSW, 301 posts
27 Jul 2019 4:49PM
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Select to expand quote
colas said..

paperboy said..
im wondering at 7 3 x 28 where is the extra foam to get 110 litres.
How thick is it ?



The trick is to place the foam away from the rails, near the center and forward of the handle. Patrice has made 100+ liters sub-7' SUP for twelve years now, so he has the experience on how to shape big volumes into small responsive shapes. Domed decks or step rails are examples of solutions.

The drawback is that you have a feeling of being high above the water, (5"+ at the stringer) but properly shaped rails can hold surprisingly well in power, even with some volume.

Views from the side:





DTM in Sydney was doing this years ago. Lots of riders didn't seem to like the domed deck. Took a little getting used to. I enjoyed the customs he made me very much. Unfortunately he does not make Sups anymore.

colas
3310 posts
27 Jul 2019 3:57PM
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Funnsurfn said..
DTM in Sydney was doing this years ago. Lots of riders didn't seem to like the domed deck. Took a little getting used to. I enjoyed the customs he made me very much.




You cannot use domed decks if you have a wide stance while paddling, it will be hard on your knees. But with a proper narrow stance (see www.seabreeze.com.au/forums/Stand-Up-Paddle/SUP/Mastering-lateral-balance-on-a-small-SUP-board?page=1 ) domed decks are no issue, and I even like them because you better feel where you are on the board.

They even help you keep a narrow stance, kind of a virtuous circle.

GizzieNZ
3890 posts
30 Jul 2019 12:03PM
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This is what I call my "small board".....big compared to yours though


barbarian
NSW, 209 posts
30 Jul 2019 10:11PM
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I recently got a JP slate 7'2 x 28" (102li) it is a shift from my fanatic pro wave 8'5 x 28 (109) but mainly in longitudinal stability. Otherwise it is not too bad. Not fast paddling, but fun on the wave, and it fits in my car!

colas
3310 posts
1 Aug 2019 12:06AM
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colas said..
- Gong Karmen 7'11" x 28"3/4 x 105l One foot offs:49.1cm x 46.5cm rocker: 26.2cm
- Gong Fatal 2016 7'3" x 28" x 110l One foot offs:46.8cm x 43.4cm rocker 26.6cm
- Gong Fatal 2017 7'3" x 29"3/4 x 105l One foot offs:53.1cm x 49.7cm rocker 25.2cm


Needless to say, I was a bit apprehensive before trying for the first time my new Gong Alley 7'8":
Alley 2019 7'8" x 27"? x 105l One foot offs: 42.8 x 45.3 rocker 25cm
But I couldn't resist, although the conditions were abysmal: onshore winds during the night, huge rips everywhere, junk waves, buoy at 1.5m / 2.6m, 8.6s conditions where I never get in the water.
The board was so impressive, weighted at 5.2kg with pad! I never had this featherlight feeling before... I had to try it!

And... no worries... I even took my first "wave" with dry hair!

I do not really understand why. I suspect that the center of volume on the Alley is very far back, so I paddle aft, and I have a good length of board in front of me, stabilizing me, whereas on the Fatal 2016 I paddled a lot more forward, close to the nose, and each rocking motion forward was critical. Also on the Alley I had the main width in front of my feet, stabilizing me.

Johndesu
NSW, 232 posts
2 Aug 2019 10:39AM
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Hi Colas
I have read all your posts and videos and everything you have said is spot on / right as I also feel the same with my boards, I am just wondering if in the future you might be coming to Australia because I would like you to bring a nice small Gong board for me (I would of course pay you:-),
also I was thinking that if possible the best way for you to compare boards is in the same surf session, that is you would need to keep your boards on the shore and after a few waves swap boards to notice the difference (in similar waves) and it would be nice to get all the action on film ?;-)

colas
3310 posts
2 Aug 2019 11:59AM
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Johndesu said..
I am just wondering if in the future you might be coming to Australia


Alas, I do not like to travel, so it is not likely...

To get a Gong board, the best solution I guess would be to look in the expat forums for people moving to OZ from Europe, and have them put the board delivered at their place and put (still in the packaging) in their container.
But I think you should be able to find really nice boards nowadays either in OZ or shipping internationally and can even make custom shapes.

Swapping boards during a session is nice. I have done it in Cannes, where the car was parked 10m from the water, but I do not do it anymore here in Hossegor where I have to walk quite a bit in the sand to swap boards, especially since I tend to move away from the crowded peaks close to the beach access...

Kovert
52 posts
2 Aug 2019 6:09PM
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Hi Colas, very interesting the smaller Alley is that usable especially in those conditions! Sounds like that would be the size to aim for at 85kg for a high performance sled

Funnsurfn
NSW, 301 posts
2 Aug 2019 9:53PM
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colas said..

Funnsurfn said..
DTM in Sydney was doing this years ago. Lots of riders didn't seem to like the domed deck. Took a little getting used to. I enjoyed the customs he made me very much.





You cannot use domed decks if you have a wide stance while paddling, it will be hard on your knees. But with a proper narrow stance (see www.seabreeze.com.au/forums/Stand-Up-Paddle/SUP/Mastering-lateral-balance-on-a-small-SUP-board?page=1 ) domed decks are no issue, and I even like them because you better feel where you are on the board.

They even help you keep a narrow stance, kind of a virtuous circle.


Agreed Colas. Not many crew on small Sups standing front on and wide regardless of deck type.
The new Genration boards by Sunova have a couple of variations to keep the standing area flat but get extra volume. Step deck is one solution or a bevel style to a refined rail. Just gripped one up and frothing to try it.

Gboots
NSW, 703 posts
3 Aug 2019 6:25PM
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Just took out my new 7'7 Flow in ankle biters . Damn this is going to be a challenge . The Starboard Pro is was wobbly for me at 102L so what am I expecting at 83L ....
For some reason I was more unstable on the left hand side of the board but my feel look evenly placed .
Not sure where sweet spot is but I had one foot in front of handle and one behind . I feel like I am too far up but when further back I am sinking.m the back when standing still

ghost4man
295 posts
3 Aug 2019 4:59PM
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Gboots said..
Just took out my new 7'7 Flow in ankle biters . Damn this is going to be a challenge . The Starboard Pro is was wobbly for me at 102L so what am I expecting at 83L ....
For some reason I was more unstable on the left hand side of the board but my feel look evenly placed .
Not sure where sweet spot is but I had one foot in front of handle and one behind . I feel like I am too far up but when further back I am sinking.m the back when standing still


Hi mate,

This is where you need to test out the sweet spot which from what you say could be very small.

I found this with my Deep Minion 7"2 x 26 3/4, which is very small.

Reading another thread on lateral stability, I started experimenting with my feet closer together. This seems counter-intuitive at first glance but you'll find it hugely beneficial. One of the reasons why is that you can think of balance as constant corrections. In the water the elements are constantly changing which means your balance is equally getting disturbed. To compensate for this, an overly pronounced narrow stance allows for these corrections to be easier as opposed to a wider stance where heavy weaightedness on one side is a lot harder to correct.

Hope that helps.

Johndesu
NSW, 232 posts
3 Aug 2019 7:24PM
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colas said..

Johndesu said..
I am just wondering if in the future you might be coming to Australia



Alas, I do not like to travel, so it is not likely...

To get a Gong board, the best solution I guess would be to look in the expat forums for people moving to OZ from Europe, and have them put the board delivered at their place and put (still in the packaging) in their container.
But I think you should be able to find really nice boards nowadays either in OZ or shipping internationally and can even make custom shapes.

Swapping boards during a session is nice. I have done it in Cannes, where the car was parked 10m from the water, but I do not do it anymore here in Hossegor where I have to walk quite a bit in the sand to swap boards, especially since I tend to move away from the crowded peaks close to the beach access...


Ok no worries colas just thought I would ask:-)

Gboots
NSW, 703 posts
3 Aug 2019 7:30PM
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Select to expand quote
ghost4man said..

Gboots said..
Just took out my new 7'7 Flow in ankle biters . Damn this is going to be a challenge . The Starboard Pro is was wobbly for me at 102L so what am I expecting at 83L ....
For some reason I was more unstable on the left hand side of the board but my feel look evenly placed .
Not sure where sweet spot is but I had one foot in front of handle and one behind . I feel like I am too far up but when further back I am sinking.m the back when standing still



Hi mate,

This is where you need to test out the sweet spot which from what you say could be very small.

I found this with my Deep Minion 7"2 x 26 3/4, which is very small.

Reading another thread on lateral stability, I started experimenting with my feet closer together. This seems counter-intuitive at first glance but you'll find it hugely beneficial. One of the reasons why is that you can think of balance as constant corrections. In the water the elements are constantly changing which means your balance is equally getting disturbed. To compensate for this, an overly pronounced narrow stance allows for these corrections to be easier as opposed to a wider stance where heavy weaightedness on one side is a lot harder to correct.

Hope that helps.


Thanks John . I thought my stance was as quite narrow , and deliberately so but will try even narrower .
Was mainly in a hybrid stance , not surf stance, when paddling. The side to side wobble is as crazy at the start but got better . Could be summer before I am ready to go out on this board at my normal beach break



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"Small SUP boards, a sobering experience" started by colas