WORDS OLLIE O’REILLY // PHOTOS BEN THOUARD
We should never forget that the longboard is where it all started for surfing, and also where it all started for SUP. A SUP longboard makes for a long list of wins without much against it: you can cross distances as easily as on a ‘big boy’ 9’6 cruiser but with refined rails that let you surf with style.
A performance tail lets you crack it off the top without wobbling on the paddle back out like a pro-board. In short, easier to paddle, surfs better. Starboard have just released their long-awaited Longboard SUP range and we spoke to shapers Ollie O’reilly, Zane Schweitzer and Benoit Carpentier to find out the design inspiration for these boards, and more importantly, how they surf.
Ollie’s Design Brief
The brief was simple: design a high performance longboard that was versatile, incredibly responsive and smooth to turn. This led us to create our new high performance 10’0”x29” and 9’0”x28” Starboard Longboard SUP models.
Designed them to perform in small beach breaks to head high reef breaks, these boards offer fast down-the-line surfing, as well as the ability to turn the board very loosely and powerfully off the top of waves. Not only is it solid off the top, but it is also incredibly stable when walking and riding on the nose. You can call it a “performance” board, however, it is incredibly versatile, covering a broad spectrum of a longboarder’s specific needs.
When we started planning the design of the longboard, it was clear which direction to go in. We asked Zane Schweitzer, Benoit Carpentier, and Connor Baxter what their all-time favourite longboard was, out of any board they could choose from. Between all three, the answer was unanimous: the 9’1”x22” Mat Moir Starboard Surf Longboard, originally designed by Dave Stubbs. Seeing their passion and excitement, we decided to transfer the main design concepts into a SUP longboard.
There are multiple design features that make this board perform so well and perform unlike any other board in the Starboard range.
The first step was shaping the 10’0” model. We made two boards to test different widths; the first being 27” wide, with a little thicker rails to still have enough volume to ride with ease. The second was slightly wider at 29”; with much lower volume rails. I went to Bali and met up with Daniel and Bruno Hasulyo to test the boards in a range of conditions from head high to waist high waves. It wasn’t long into the test that they realized the wider 29” with its fine rails was the absolute winner!
The fundamental performance factors are the low volume and the thinned out rails through the entire board. The latest allow you to easily engage the rails with minimal foot pressure, giving control down the wave face and holding through steeper sections of the wave. It really helps when the waves get bigger, as you feel safe making sections without the rails slipping or losing hold. The low fine rails are ultra responsive and sensitive to turn direction with speed and control with minimal effort, allowing you to be very nimble on your feet. Furthermore, the lower volume makes the board sit slightly submerged in the water, which in fact increases stability, feeling less corky and bouncy compared to some thicker volume boards.
Due to the thin rails, both boards have a relatively low volume for their sizes, with the 10’0” at 123L and the 9’0” 101L. This sets them apart from most larger surf models within the 9’0” – 10’0” range, which tend to have a thicker standing area and therefore thicker rails to give greater volume. It’s again the low volume created from the thin rails, that makes this board stand out in performance.
The parallel outline in the middle section provides a smooth and fast glide and it is easy to trim the board with stability. The long straight outline helps generate speed down the line to set up for drawn out turns. The tail outline narrows into a diamond tail, making it extremely reactive to drive off the bottom and allows the nose to lift, when redirecting off the top with minimal foot pressure. The fuller nose outline gives enough flotation and stability to ride hang loose like in classic longboard styling.
The rocker has a gradual nose kick for a smooth take off into waves without pearling and to help trim the board when riding the nose. In the middle it is relatively flat to generate speed, feeding into considerable tail kick making it ultra responsive when stepping back to maneuver and lifting the nose with ease. The tail rocker combined with the narrow tail outline are really critical for sharp tight turns, helping to quickly swing the nose through turns. When you turn the board over and check the bottom, the defined double concave is easy to see, feeding from the nose through the midsection until forming a distinct vee at the tail. The prominent double concave in the mid-section allows the board to roll onto its rail effortlessly to turn direction from the standing area. The pronounced vee tail makes turning very crisp and reactive, essential for fast bottom and top turns.
“One of the biggest attractions of the longboard over my 7’2 Pro board is the sensation of ease and grace from start to finish of a session.”
The fin position of the board can change the board’s feel completely. As with most new boards, we added multiple fin positions, so we could switch in and out both different size fins and change the position. After testing multiple positions, we chose to place the side fins very close to the rail. This enables carving with precision and hold through turns. The centre fin position gives tracking and drive. We did also test the board with a single fin like traditional Longboards. The board worked well, but benefits from the side fins for that extra drive through turns. Both the 10’0” and the 9’0” are supplied with the 170 centre fin and 4.5”, as it proved to be the preferred combination of drive and tracking. For more tracking and stability a larger centre fin can be used.
The 10’0”x29” carries more glide and speed from the longer length. The 29” width provides a wider platform with greater stability for heavier riders.
On the other hand, the 9’0”x28” is suited for lighter riders that want less swing weight and increased maneuverability. In short, these designs features work in harmony to provide a board that is extremely responsive. So much, that it will increase your surfing level without a doubt. Both longboards are so far two of the most talked about models in the 019 Starboard range.
This new Starboard Longboard is just my new favourite board, I’ve ridden a longboard since the very first day I got into surfing and I’ve always dreamed about having a high performance long sup. This new range of sup longboard really has been inspired by the Matt Moir longboard pro model from a few years back, a board that I’ve been riding in many contests, and I can find exactly the same characteristics in the sup range. The longboard is light, going fast, good on the nose, good on the tail, still super stable and comfy while paddling. I’ve been surfing it in knee high to double overhead waves and it’s pretty crazy how the board handles the speed. This is definitely a board I’ll
be taking everywhere with me, but it’s already rarely at home because my brothers are having way too much fun on it, haha. Being able to noseride and throw buckets of water like on my 7’3 sup surf board without struggling to stay upright while paddling just feels so good. It just makes you have a different approach on the wave compare to your normal sup, drawing longer lines and of course the ability to noseride.
I have been loving my Starboard Longboard for many occasions and conditions on the water. One of the biggest attractions to choose my STB Longboard over my 7’2 Pro board is the sensation of ease and grace from start to finish of a session. From stepping onto the board for the paddle out to gliding into your last waves after a long session, the Starboard Longboard allows for easy paddling and entry into waves along with smooth rides that give you control and comfort through nose rides, and responsive turns that could make you believe you’re riding a pro board!
The classic longboard noserider shape mixed with a high-performance rail shape and tail outline give the rider a lot of options for wave riding. Whether you’re looking to enjoy a mellow session with comfortable long rides in average conditions, or even if you are an advanced rider looking for the ultimate everyday board that you can rip and nose ride on, this is an epic board to add to your quiver and most definitely one of my favourite boards to ride on the water on any given day. SUP International