This board presents a classic Starboard conundrum. My view on it has changed dramatically over the seasons we’ve been using it. Its shape gives very strongly defined character, that has very clear strengths and weaknesses. Let me explain….
Most boards under 10′ long are pretty pivotal, and very much just about waves. They’re also usually quite technical. However, with its 30” of width, low nose rocker and a very rectangular plan shape, the 9′8 is actually a very easy and stable board to cruise around on; it feels directional, has low yaw and is usefully quick in a straight line too.
The directionality and decent acceleration are both very useful when it comes to catching a wave, but the take off is actually most strongly influenced by the low nose rocker – it will stick every time if you’re even just a few inches too far forward. So you have to get back into surfing stance early. This is also important because the rectangular planshape and low rocker really mean that this board just does not footsteer. It feels incredibly stiff and directional – the only way to turn it is to get your back foot right back onto the kicker, and really turn it off the tail. Once you get used to this it’s OK, but the board is just never going to be the most loose or throwabout on the water. However, that flat nose, with the grip all the way to the front, is just soooo tempting – everyone who used the board has said the same. Even hardcase shortboarders who’ve never even thought of stepping forward before are suddenly finding themselves hanging five (or ten), and grinning from ear to ear. Next up, tail-first take offs – the stable flat platform that this board offers is just extremely conducive to messing around on. So despite not being a loose throwabout by nature, it does have plenty to offer in the waves.
In bigger waves, big steep takeoffs certainly keep your attention with that low nose and ponderous bottom turn – it takes a while to get used to driving it so much off the tail, and really having to use your paddle to leverage your turns. Coming off the top hard can be pretty hairy too – the board generates plenty of spectacular nose-plants. Competent big-wave surfers tend to find this quite a hard paddleboard to use in this environment, simply because it’s not surfy by nature, and it’s not surfing like they’re expecting it to. And that’s because actually this board is a true paddleboard, and a typically Starboard creation. Almost every other leading SUP brand simply has too much surfing heritage to even consider producing a board like this. But for paddleboarders – especially those finding their way into bigger surf for the first time, and already used to turning their board by the paddle more than by footsteering, it makes a whole lot of sense. It’s a board that you definitely need to learn how to use in the surf, but once you do, it really grows on you. For an average weight (70-80kg) rider, it works pretty well as a top ticket board – the one you take if you’re not sure what the conditions are going to be, and just want one board that will deliver you something useful whatever you find when you get there, from dead flat to solid overhead. Our demo board gets a lot of use, and has resulted in many sales.
Very stable, very good all-over grip, fast, great nose for tricks etc
On the Other Hand…
Directional nature and low nose mean that the bord is not a natural surfer – it doesn’t turn on its shape, you need to turn it, with effort and correct technique.
It won’t be for everybody. Most at home in small/medium surf (smaller than head high), and best suited to paddleboarders rather than surfers. Take the time to learn how to use it, get into nose riding, enjoy its user friendliness and easy ride. If you’re an average weight rider and
want just one wave board for all conditions, then this design can work really well once you’ve got the hang of it. I have certainly learned to like it – a lot.