Hey, so I know things have been quiet on here for a while. I’d like to say that it was because we’ve been so busy having adventures. Although we have had some, this is not the reason. In all honesty, I have been feeling a little uninspired recently, having had a few disappointing surf trips to the west coast in recent months where conditions have not been great. Coming from Kent, we assume that the West constantly has waves, even if they are only small. We found out that’s not the case! Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had some fantastic trips. Scotland was incredible, North Devon was absolutely stunning and Cornwall has been breathtaking as usual. But my true passion is sup surfing and I haven’t been as inspired with it lately. That is, until I rode a Sunova.
Me and the few committed local sup surfers, mainly my pal Stewart, tend to go out every weekend regardless of the conditions. We have battled through 30-40 mph winds to catch a few bumpy rides. We’ve sat in conditions so bad that you have to wait in the water up to your chest for a wave or you would be pushed in to reefs and rocks by the wind. This really does help us with our core balance and ability to catch waves when it is working. Although getting pummeled and constantly falling off due to the wind is draining, it all adds to the experience and repertoire of skills!
Stewart and I have recently been talking about progression and I personally have been feeling that my quiver may be a barrier, not due to the board itself but more the conditions we have to deal with. I began researching boards and found a company that really caught my eye, Sunova. Their sup range seemed to have it all – a good handle (I literally hate my handles), well thought out shapes and the tech in them seems like nothing else on the market. The price wasn’t too daunting either, being around the £1,200 mark for performance boards.
I was looking for a longboard style similar to my O’shea 10′ 10, but shorter with less volume and thinner rails. Stewart was looking for more of a carver board. The Sunova range isn’t just beautiful to look at, every board has a specific shape in tune with the shaper, Bert Burger’s purpose for that board. During a demo day in St Ives, we got to ride most of them! We were drawn to the long board esq STYLE, 9’6 x 27”@ 112L, the traditional surf shape FLOW 8’10 x 31” @ 130L and we tried various sizes of the SPEEED and ACID.
Every board we rode regardless of size was well balanced and easy to stand on, the smallest being the FLOW 8’4. I had my eyes on the STYLE before I even got there. My smallest board is an 8’6 x 28” at 120L. This is my charger for the more powerful days but some times can feel too corky. We mostly have weaker waves so I really wanted a smaller size than my O’shea and to get the most out of our waves, get some nose riding and walking going on, maybe even some drop knee turns. I tried the 9’6 and STYLE xl 9’0 x 29” @ 118L to see which I preferred and the 9’6 won. The performance of the narrower shape tipped the scales for me. It is the closest sup board I have found to a traditional longboard.
This board, and all of the Sunova range, has the balsa wood finish, with carbon rails. They look stunning and are accentuated with a grey deck pad to match the grey painted rails. the only bit of paint on the board! They all have a double laminate top sheet for strength and the base is a single laminate. The reason for this single layer is to give the board a bit of flex and less chatter in the chop.
Julius Bull the owner of The Stand up Paddle Boarder shop, was our host and gave us the full run down on each shape and it’s purpose and construction. Check out his site for the full specs on each board.
The first thing I noticed was the handle, they use the ‘liftsup’ handle which pops out the board and gives a cylindrical handle that you can hold, when in the water simply push it back in and it sits flush with the deck pad. No more catching toes in the handle!
The boards are all incredibly light, weighing around 8kg for the 9’+ boards and obviously lower the smaller you go. I am used to carrying a 20kg+ board with a shallow handle. So carrying this to the shore line was a luxury. The board has a parallel rail shape with a drawn in tail for those stalled turns. It had a lot of float in the nose and a small step back allowed you to pivot on the tail – it turns on the spot.
They come with a 2 and 1 fin set up. Julius recommended single fin with stubby side bites to allow an extra bit of bite in the waves but still a looser ride than the supplied side fins. I rode it with a single fin in 1 footers and had no problem walking up the board or turning. It glides incredibly well, once in the right position on the board which I found to be further forward than I expected. I was able to zip across to the breaks and then with just one paddle stroke in to the wave and you’re off! This was not a sole feature of the STYLE – every board I tried wanted to ride waves and was super easy to catch on. At 112L it is less volume than my carving board but the rails sit below the water line when flat and it just locks the board in. I was super stable and even in the choppy conditions did not feel unsteady, in fact it was more stable than my wave board! This is due to the amount of consideration Bert has put into these boards. He used to shape Firewire surfboards so knows a thing or two about wave riding. His surf range definitely proves this.
The FLOW was Stewart’s favorite board and it’s easy to see why. It looks awesome, with a drawn back rounded tail and pointed nose, this board looks like a serious wave board. Again the balance on the board is insane. Stewart rides a 9’5 and wasn’t even contemplating going below 9′. Julius, the “hostess with mostess”, talked us through the board again and took into consideration our local breaks and riding ability. He recommended the 8’10, although skeptical at first once on the water it was clear to see the shape and balance on these boards was phenomenal. This board was an all rounder; you can carve it by staying central or step back over the fins and get a nice stalled turn in. Stewart found himself getting up to the nose and trying to spin it. I too loved this board and getting in some turns, all be it very quickly in the small waves we had, was a doddle. The whole range feature the ‘liftsup’ handle and grey deck pad with grey rails. This grey rail is supposedly titanium paint, that combined with carbon rail which is double glassed, gives a super strong rail. Even the boards which had been demoed for the past six months had hardly any marks. I have been able to try many boards, from friends and at demo days, and the build quality of these boards blew me away.
Needless to say we both walked away very happy and a few pounds lighter after making the decision to buy a board each. That said, it was a hard decision as all the boards deserve a place in your quiver. I think the SPEEED will be my next addition or maybe the ACID. These boards have left me feeling inspired to continue pushing myself and work towards my surfing goals so much so that I even sat down to write a blog!
All photos are thanks to Dan check out his page too! https://www.facebook.com/Jaan