Sunday, April 24, 12022 HE
Yesterday I bit the bullet and bought a new board, the NSP Carolina Pro Carbon. Well, at least new to me. Hence the post title. Driving home post-purchase, I thought of Roots Manuva‘s 1999 album title Brand New Second Hand. Roots Manuva is a massive figure in the British Hip Hop/music scene. Check out the final track, Motion 5000, from the album below if you don’t know the artist.
Though I had forgotten about the Peter Tosh eponymous track, which I can only surmise was Roots Manuva’s inspiration for the album title.
Since I bought the board used, it is actually the 2020 Carolina Pro Carbon model. The image below compares the two models, 2022 and 2020. The one on the right is the 2020 model. They are the same length, 4.3 metres (14 feet), but the images are different sizes.
The dimensions of the two boards are below from the catalogues online. The 2020 model is the right image with the water background. The 2022 dimension are the left image with the black background. My understanding is that most companies do two-year productions for their molds and it looks like the specifications from the 2023 catalogue for the NSP Carolina is the same as the 2022 model.
Before viewing the board, I had a fortuitous conversation with a client regarding board volumes. He had experience with SUP racing boards and suggested not going below 285 litres for my height/weight. When I was initially searching board options, I considered the volume component since it translates to the board’s buoyancy and carrying capacity. But then I forgot about that specific detail as I started to search more and look into my options. I became more focused on the length and width of the board. Obviously, length and width are related to volume. But as seen for the 2022 25″ and 2020 24 ¼” models, it is not the whole story. Despite being one inch wider, the 2022 model has a slightly lower volume, by two litres (282 versus 284 litres). The difference left me curious about how that feels on the water? I can only assume that they maintained a similar buoyancy with less volume via the shape of the board?
I found my new board on the Facebook “SUP used boards for Sale Canada” site. Initially, my plan was to get a Starboard Generation after watching this raving review of the board from SUPBoarder. They conclude that the Starboard Generation is an excellent choice if you want one board that can do it all, i.e., surf, race, tour, and downwind. For me, my interest lies in the latter two. Though I am interested in the former two, I just haven’t participated in those activities yet. Having one board versus multiple boards for each sub-discipline was also appealing, as my storage space was limited. But, I couldn’t resist the allure of having a hardboard and the purported performance advantages and better ride experience that accompanied the performance benefit. So I started to look into my options.
After setting my sights on the Starboard Generation, a conversation with one of the sales representatives at Coast Outdoors made me waver in my resolve. Essentially their opinion was that while the Starboard Generation may be good at all disciplines, it is not great at any of them. At the time, I didn’t ask for their input on the practicality piece. That is, without an option (i.e., limited storage space) for multiple boards, what would you do? In hindsight, I suspect their own interest played into their opinion/advice, as they directed me more toward a racing-style board. In fairness, this may have been due to the fact that I expressed my main interest at the time to be downwinding. Perhaps, in that case, the representative reasoned that a racing or downwind specific board might be the best option. In any case, a seed of doubt was sown in my mind on which board to purchase.
My sights now went toward the Starboard Allstar. The Allstar is touted as the ultimate all-water board in many SUP circles. The problem was that thanks to the pandemic, there were none available. Supply chain constraints. Coast Outdoors did have the One Ocean Sports Evo 2.0 available. But not knowing much about this board, I hesitated. I couldn’t find a review of the Evo 2.0 that I trusted outside of the proprietor’s. That’s hardly an unbiased assessment in my eyes. I have grown accustomed to the SUPBoarder product reviews. I find them informative and relatively unbiased. Though, like much internet content and product reviews, I suspect they may be partial to their suppliers. Particularly if the product prospectors are provided paraphernalia without a price. I think it is difficult to avoid bias in these circumstances and a bit of a halo effect likely takes place. I do find their reviews to be generally overly positive. But if you are aware of their tendency toward over-optimism, and take that into account, their reviews give you a great relative gauge.
Without a review of the One SUP Evo 2.0 from a trusted source, I wasn’t comfortable making a decision. Later, I contacted Coast Outdoors to see if I could demo some boards. But their response was that they didn’t have enough stock to facilitate this process at the time. In the interim, as I dawdled on the One SUP Evo 2.0 that was available in my size, it sold. Alas, I was left to wait.
While waiting, I wavered back and forth between my SUP discipline interests and the board investment cost. Was the price of a race board justified if I wasn’t a racer? What discipline would I do the most? I signed up to be notified when the stock arrived for several boards at Coast Outdoors. Hopefully, I would know what I wanted by the time their stock arrived. Or maybe whatever arrived first would make my decision for me? Meanwhile, I started to gravitate back to my initial decision of the Starboard Generation. One board to fill my space-limited-quiver and at a more reasonable price point.
At one point, a single Starboard Allstar arrived at Coast Outdoor. But when I spoke to a representative, they informed me the board suffered damaged in shipping. They were going to repair the board and then offer it at a discount. They gave me the impression it would be a bit of bidding war for the best offer. Initially, I was intrigued, but on further reflection decided that I didn’t want to compete for a new but previously damaged board. Again, back to waiting.
During this time, after speaking with a client about demo skis, the idea about getting a demo board came to mind. Searching for more information, I came across this post on some things to consider when buying a used paddleboard. Taking the author’s advice from the section titled “IS IT EVER OK TO BUY A USED SUP?” I started searching for shops that sold demo boards. Again, the availability of stock was the issue. There were none locally. I did come across Gorge Performance in Portland, Oregon, which has an extensive stock of used boards. And the SUP Co was another one selling used/ex-demo boards, but they are in the UK. Looking into shipping costs for both of these shops proved to be cost-prohibitive in the context of buying a used board. If I waited long enough, new stock would eventually arrive locally. And would be cheaper than a discounted board with a hefty shipping bill. I contemplated an Oregon trip. It would be a roadie, plus I could trial an array of demo boards and hopefully come home with one I liked. But around the same time, I came across the Facebook “SUP used boards for Sale Canada” site. Funnily, I had come across the site before, but I had forgotten about it when I set my sights on a new board. Now I was looking at getting a used SUP as a way to get a premium piece of equipment at a discount, so it was back on the docket.
And from there, it was just keeping a watchful eye for something that met my criteria to come up. Enter the NSP Carolina Pro Carbon. From what I could find online, it fits the bill of what I wanted. Able to handle all water conditions from flat to medium height chop and downwind. And it was a bonus that it was local, as a few other boards that caught my interest were not.
I scheduled a time to see the board in person over the coming weekend. From there just an anxious wait with the thought that someone else would beat me to the board before the weekend. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case, and after an inspection, I was happy with what I saw. And then it was one more anxious wait overnight to see how the board would actually paddle. I did take on a bit of a risk of getting the board without testing it. But I was confident from my online research that I would be satisfied. I also justified my decision with the fact that a new board purchase was likely going to be the same. A leap of blind faith. I was also reassured by a friend, that in the worst-case scenario, it would be a more expensive prolonged demo. If I hated the board, I could always resell it later.
But before I get to the maiden voyage, here is a brief comedic interlude about couples and partners buying things that the other half isn’t super keen about. That’s not to say that Annie is upset at this purchase. But as I alluded to, space is at a premium in our abode. Hence the inflatable SUP (iSUP) and blog title. So 4.3 metres (14 feet) of hardboard will present a minor logistical conundrum.
The Legend of Lumbu
The Legend of Lumbu tells of a man that, a long time ago, was in love with his high school sweetheart. Lumbu (pronounced loom-boo) is my older brother’s middle name. And this man that he speaks of was a friend that we grew up with. Some of the details of the legend have been lost to time, but I will try to tell it as I remember it.
As the legend goes, this friend had moved in with his long-term high school sweetheart. Everyone knew that they were destined to marry. The friend had been saving up money for a ring. But on that fateful day, en route to the jewelry store, this friend would happen upon a deal too good to pass up. A sale at an electronics store on a big screen TV. As an avid sports fan, he couldn’t resist. Surely his fiancée would understand. He would quickly be able to make up the difference to get the ring shortly. Now, remember, this is the late 1990s. Big-screen TVs were a burgeoning market with major innovations taking place. But despite this, big-screen TVs lived up to their name. They were big! I can’t recall the specifics, but I do recall that my brother was invited over to his friend’s place shortly after the purchase to watch some sports. This friend lived with his to-be-fiancée. And with the size of the TV, and the haste with which the purchase was made, some minor details were missed.
For example, like, the fact that the TV was too big for their living space. As I said, minor details. The TV could easily be setup partially overlapping into the parlour doorway. It would come into contact with the door slightly when it was ajar. But if you were careful, it would only gently come into contact. If, you were careful. As my brother sat and watched the game, he found himself entertained not by what was on the TV. But rather, by the number of times that his friend’s to-be-fiancée came and went through the parlour doorway. Each time nudging the door ever so harder than gently into the TV. My brother would recount the comedy of the story that despite the visible cringe that his friend underwent each time the door abutted the TV there was nothing that he could do to protest. And my brother would always retell the story using George Constanza‘s voice when he would say, “big screen TV.” The clip from Seinfeld is below for context.
My mother, rest in peace, would crack up when my brother recounted the story. She had a soft spot for my brother’s friend as he would also make an over-the-top effort to speak French to her when he was over. My mom loved anyone who tried to speak French. Several years later, when we were celebrating my parents’ 25th Wedding Anniversary, I had the idea to replace their wedding bands. Unfortunately, my dad had lost his ring when it slipped off his finger sometime before. My dad figured it ended up down a drain at some point, but who knows, it was never found. I think he may have checked in a few of the U-pipes in the house without any luck. To surprise them, we needed to get their finger measurements. I remember coming up with some silly reason to measure everyone in the family’s finger size. If they clued in to my ploy they never let on and I suspect they were always unsuspecting.
The kicker for me, to add in some fun, was that we would hide the rings in the biggest TV box that we could get for when we surprised my parents with them. While my parents were en route to Prince George, heading through Squamish with a stop at some friends’ place, we, the kids, organized to be there as a surprise with our oversized box. After surprising my parents with our presence at their friend’s place, my memory is of feigning to carry a heavy TV box up to them. In reality, the box was filled with crumpled paper and two rings. We all had a great laugh after they found the rings, and we connected all the dots to the story and retold the Legend of Lumbu Big Screen TV Ring tale. And now we had another chapter in the saga, this time with a reversal of the ending. My parents came away with new rings but no big-screen TV. And no one was resentfully bashing away at the newfound treasure.
I think that’s where I drew the parallel to the story. That an oversized newly found treasure was purchased in haste, without consideration of where to store the item. To my defence, and perhaps my brother’s friend’s too, I had measured our yard in advance. But that said, the specifics of storage were still to be solidified, now that SUP had been sourced, sold, and secured.
When I pulled up in front of our place with the board loaded onto the roof rack and saw Annie’s and the boys’ stupified stares of suspense at the sheer size of the board coupled with taking the photo below, the Legend of Lumbu came to mind.
Now, what was the board like? I have to admit that I was surprised when I lifted it up for the first time. It was way lighter than I anticipated. I had read that you should pick up a used board to determine if there are any density discrepancies, which could indicate a repair. The board was so light that it felt like a cheap toy in my hands. I think the bright colours didn’t help in that regard, either. It reminded me of picking up a Starboard Lima paddle for the first time. It was so light that it felt frugal, fake, and flimsy. Knowing that wasn’t the case for the Lima paddle, it had to be the same for the board I reasoned.
Form my maiden sail, I launched from Locarno Beach. When I got it onto the water I was happy to find that the board felt stable. I had read one account saying the board was tippy as to be expected for the style. The comment made me nervous as I was dropping almost ten inches of board width. I had also read elsewhere that you shouldn’t drop more than four inches to avoid too big of a stability change. My hope was that changing to a dugout hardboard from an iSUP would counter the drastic drop in width. And that turned out to be true. While I could immediately feel that the Carolina was tippier, the shape of the board provide another layer of stability. I was aware of the concept of primary and secondary stability for SUPs. They are actually terms borrowed from kayaking. But it was exhilarating to experience it so profoundly. Primary stability is the control that the board has at rest when flat on the water. If you are familiar with the aviation axes, then the motion referenced by board stability is the roll of the vessel. Compared to my Blackfin Model XL with has tonnes of primary stability, the Carolina was twitchy when flat. I could feel abrupt micro-movements side-to-side before the secondary stability would kick in. It took a moment to get used to the feeling. Secondary stability is an additional layer of stability that comes into play after the board leaves that flat resting state and begins to go on edge. As the board goes up onto its rail/edge, it becomes less stable due to the lower surface area in contact with the water. In the case of a dugout board design, the boxy square rail provides an additional check against tipping over. In addition, the rider is also lower to the water, decreasing their centre of mass and increasing their stability/balance.
In my limited experience, iSUPs provide a degree of secondary stability, as the thickness of the board provides a fatter, albeit round rail. But the thickness comes with a trade-off, as the rider will be higher off of the water.
As I increased my speed the stability of the board improved. It was cool to see how the nose pierced through the water. I played around with trimming my board to reduce the slapping sound of the water on the hull as I made my way into some light wind waves (for more on trim (and foot placement) see this SUPBoarder Pro video). Using the aviation analogy again, trim controls the pitch of the vessel. Moving your weight forward pitches the nose of the board down while bringing your weight to the back of the board pitches the nose of the board up. By moving forward on my board I could lower the nose and take advantage of the wave-piercing nose and longer hull for more glide (i.e., speed). I was impressed by how the water was shed off of the nose. It was much easier to travel upwind than on my iSUP.
I noticed that my feet fatigued sooner. It reminded me of when I first started SUPing. I would not move my feet out of fear of being unstable so my feet would get tired with the reduced blood flow. With the hardboard, I think the harder standing surface also played a role. To be sure, at the start of my paddle I was moving my feet less, but from my launch, I was acutely aware of the rigidity of the board. Think of standing on a hard surface and how your feet fatigue more quickly. The harder surface compounded gripping my feet more with the tippier board and not being as comfortable to move around. But as I became more comfortable on the board I started to walk around more and found it relatively stable.
Despite the low wind speeds, I clocked a personal best top SUP speed on my return with the wind at my back. I am looking forward to getting comfortable on this board and then taking it into bigger upwind and downwind conditions.
When I reached Locarno Beach, I decided I needed to test out some pivot turns. I had read that with a dugout board, you want to keep the nose lower to the water when pivot turning so that the cockpit doesn’t fill up with too much water. I was pleased with how stable the board was at the tail when turning. It was easier than I anticipated.
My regular surf stance is always easier for pivot turns, and I found it relatively comfortable turning this way. Goofy stance proved to be a bit more awkward as I couldn’t control the roll of the board as easily. But I felt comfortable enough after a few open water turns that I decided to practice my pivot turns around a buoy. The first one was easy with no trouble in a regular stance. But my second attempt in goofy stance had me end up in the drink. It was a combination of being in a goofy stance, not being low enough, turning into a wave, and a general loss of focus. But that is why I got a semi-drysuit. The suit reduces my fear of falling into the water in cooler weather. And it makes it easier to stay out on the water if/when I fall in, despite the weather. I found that I had no trouble remounting my board. I had read that it can be challenging to remount a dugout board. I could see how that could be the case, as getting over the rails presents a greater challenge than a flat deck. In that case, the advice is to mount your board from the tail by submerging it to climb on. I just went over the rails. The most awkward part was where to put my paddle as I did so.
To recover my bruised ego I did a few more successful pivot turns in each direction before heading to the shore. Packing up was quick, and it was a pleasure not having to deflate (or inflate) my board.
Funnily, I think the outline of my route actually looks a bit like the board’s outline. It is a bit of a stretch, but if you look at my other GPS SUP art, it is not bad by comparison. And completely coincidental. See below.
Altogether, it was a magnificent maiden voyage. I am looking forward to doing more faster and further sessions in the future.