When you pick up a Starboard product catalogue or land on the Starboard Website, the sheer size of the range, and the number of boards to choose from, can be pretty overwhelming - I know this only too well, because its my job to help you on your journey to becoming a stand up paddler. No matter how many filters and tags we put on the products that go on our website, there's still no easy way to choose a board online. So I’ve put together these 10 questions for you to ask yourself when you start looking for a board.
Can’t wait to see you on the water! Victoria Stuart, PaddleFit Pro Coach x
If you’re the only person who’ll be using your board, lucky you! You can choose a board that is a 100% perfect fit for your size, shape, ability level and what you want to do with it. If you’re planning to share the board amongst family members, you’re best to consider the height and weight of the biggest person using it, and also the size of the person who will use it the most. Usually you’ll want to find a middle ground, leaning more towards the main user. Enter their rider weight and rider ability in the smart filters at the top of the collection page. If you’ve never paddled before, we recommend you watch some of our video guides to getting started in flat water and book in a lesson before you hit the beach.
Starboard provides a “RECOMMENDED RIDER WEIGHT” for every board, and our website has a Rider Weight filter that allows you to find all suitable boards for riders of all weights, from Under 40kg to Over 100kg. It’s important to pick a board with the right weight capacity so you will be stable and the board will perform how its meant to. The only thing worse than a board too small or narrow, that means you’re always falling in, is a board that is too big and hard to control in the wind. Select the rider’s weight range in the RIDER WEIGHT product filter at the top of the page.
Regardless of whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced paddler, there are three basic pointers to remember:
But let’s not assume that all first-time board buyers are new to stand up paddling! You may be doing a PaddleFit program with us, have hired a board, or mucked around on a friend’s board before. We recommend you test a few boards to see what you like before you take the plunge. Contact your local SUPWell coach and ask about their next Starboard demo day, or sign up for a lesson. Learning new skills and good technique will improve your paddling ability faster, and you will end up buying a board that you won’t outgrow as you get better.
Use the Board Length Filter to select the right length for you.
Usually when you start out in paddling, you want an ALL ROUND / CRUISING style board that lets you try a bit of everything. You can catch a wave on pretty much any Starboard board, so if you’re thinking you’d like to try a bit of surfing, you’d be sweet with anything in the ALL ROUND / CRUISING range, a Blend or a Whopper.
If you’re using it for fitness, racing, or maybe to do a little island hopping or exploring, you want to choose a longer board - something over 10’. The GO boards are ideal, really stable, beautiful glide, and of course, amazing artwork thanks to World #1 ranked female paddler Sonni Honscheid.
If you’re just mucking around off the beach or boat, catching small waves, or you’re very small in stature, you could go down to around 9’0 and still paddle ok in flatwater. If you’re thinking mostly surfing, a little bit of tiki-touring or flatwater, you could consider a WIDE RIDE or a WIDEPOINT. If you’d like to get into downwind paddling, you’re going to want something 12’6 or 14’ and Over
For mostly flatwater paddling or a combination choose "All Round / Cruising" in the BOARD USE Product Filter
If you’re buying a board that you’re going to use 90% of the time on flatwater or small chop (about knee height), in a harbour, on a lake or on a river, you want to choose a nice long slender board, over 10’ long.
The Starboard TOURING range has 14’, 12’6, 11’6 and 10’ options and several different widths to suit different rider weights. Or if you’re pretty stable and comfortable on a board, you might want to consider a wider race board.
If you’re still in the beginner to intermediate zone, the GO boards are the perfect flatwater solution. If you’re using it mostly at the bach, on a surf beach, then go for one of the Blend range. These surf like longboard surfboards, and make it really easy for you to catch your first waves, as well as having a good amount of glide to cover longer distances.
For your first surf SUP board you can’t beat the Wide Ride and Widepoint boards.
You guessed it. This is where we work out if you need an inflatable board or if you’re better with a hard board. If you have room to store it, a means to transport it, and you can lift it, then I’d recommend a hard board.
If you want to travel with your board (such a cool way to experience the world!), you live in an apartment or on a boat, or you don’t have a car, then an inflatable board in a magic travel bag, complete with roller wheels, backpack straps and a two-way pump (with room for your summer clothes), is the best option for you. The other reason you might choose inflatable is because they are generally lighter and easier to lift and carry. And if you’re using your board often, you can always leave it inflated and tie onto a car using our inflatable roof racks.
The only downside to inflatables is that they don’t perform quite so well in choppy conditions and wind. So think about the location you usually paddle, and whether you’ll want to go out when it's blowing 10-15knots. You can always choose a Touring or Airline Inflatable, they are designed to be more rigid, feel more like a hard board on the water, and are easier to paddle against the wind.
Use the BOARD TYPE filter at the top of the page to choose a hard or inflatable board.
Think about how are you going to lift your board on and off your car, and get it to and from the water. How important to you is it to have a really light easy-to-manage board that will mean you paddle more frequently?
Not all boards are created equal, but this is where technology comes in. All Starboard boards are built with the highest quality materials and designed to be as light as possible, but you’ll find there is still a big difference between a really large, high volume board designed for a 100kg+ paddler, and a smaller board for a lighter rider.
The good news? You can still have the large, high volume board in a super lightweight construction if you choose a Blue Carbon or Carbon version. It pays to check how heavy the board is before you buy and make sure you can manage it.
There are also SUP straps and wheels to make carrying your board a bit easier. All the new GO Tikihine range have a comfortable built-in shoulder carry strap, leaving you hands free to get your paddle, towel and water bottle to the beach with you!
Yes you could buy a cheap paddle board package online for under $1000. But we guarantee you’d get more enjoyment out of picking up an old secondhand Starboard from TradeMe than shelling out for a low-quality no-name brand board from the internet.
It’s all about the ride.
So no matter what your budget is, always go for the best you can afford. If I had to make a budget choice, I’d buy a decent new paddle and a cheaper technology or second hand board. Starboard’s range is designed so that there is a board at every price point based on which technology you choose - from Blue Carbon at around the $4,000 mark, down to Starlite at $1999.
If that’s still feeling too high, how about finding an old-season or ex-demo board in our clearance range online? There are boards discounted by up to 70%, starting from just $615. Starboard boards really do last for 30 years or more. They also hold their value well and are easy to resell if you decide to upgrade to a faster or more high performance board. Although we do find that most people keep their first board forever, and it becomes the board they introduce all their friends to SUP with.
Board sorted? Now you’ll need a paddle, a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) and a leash. See our Getting Started Guide for more on leashes and PFDs.
Starboard paddles are easy to work out. There are basically two different shapes - one for racing and flatwater, the other for all round paddling and surfing. If you’re NOT surfing, go for the Lima. If you plan to catch waves go for the Enduro. Always choose the best technology you can afford (or the colour you like). If you’re the only one using it, buy a fixed shaft cut to your own size (about a shaka above your head). If you’re sharing it with someone taller or shorter, buy a 2-Piece adjustable. If you’re travelling, buy a 3-Piece adjustable. The blade sizes are a bit like gears on a bike. Smaller blades mean you can go longer, faster and are easier on your arms and shoulders. Larger blades are good for more power, but you will fatigue more quickly and can be more prone to shoulder injuries. Shafts come in round or oval. I prefer oval for racing because I can feel where the blade is in relation to my hand and board, so I don’t “slip” (imagine face-planting onto your board because your paddle accidentally went in sideways). But it is totally personal preference. So is stiffness, BUT you won’t notice the difference when you’re starting out! Remember, the lighter your paddle is, the more you’ll want to use it, and the longer you’ll be able to stay on the water.
Starboard is all about making not only the best boards on the planet, but also the best boards for the planet. You might already know about our Blue Carbon Eco Board GOLD rating from Sustainable Surf, or about the myriad of other environmental initiatives Starboard is involved in - from turning recycled plastic bottles and fishing nets into boards, to planting mangroves in South East Asia to help restore the ecosystem. Find out more at BLUE.STAR-BOARD.COM and know that when you buy a Starboard SUP, you’re helping the planet. All of our paddles come with a dinky little trash picker that you can use to fish plastic bags and other floating debris out of the water, every time you paddle… Be the change. Live a #DeepBlueLife with Starboard.
Now you’ve answered our Top 10 Questions, you’re ready to find your first SUP Board. Use our easy board finder filter at the top of the page to choose your perfect board or for personalised guidance to buying a board from Starboard New Zealand, don't hesitate to contact us or message us below.
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