12’6” Race Board Speed Test Cut to the chase… VIEW FULL RESULTS With the Summer race season underway, we at SUP VIC and RPS decided to run speed tests on some popular 12’6” stock race boards currently available here in Melbourne, Australia. First we raided the RPS demo fleet, and then bolstered that with a couple of boards provided by SUP VIC members to come up with 8 of the leading boards on the local market circa November 2011. We decided on a flat water course of approximately 500 metres total, consisting 250 metres into the wind, a turn around a stationary buoy, and then 250 metres downwind. We decided to include a buoy turn within the timing simply because the ability to be able to turn a board is imperative in pretty much every form of 12’6” racing that we do. This helped some boards and harmed others, but that’s life – you want to win a race, you need to be able to turn the board. On the day, the wind hovered around 7 – 8 knots fairly consistently, with a slight peak in the middle of the tests, though not enough to impact the results too significantly. We had initially planned to run 8 paddlers, but a couple of late withdrawals meant we had more boards than paddlers for each round or run. We weighed each paddler before the test began and measured their height. We established an order for the paddlers to go out, with no more than two paddlers on the course at any time to ensure clean, flat water and no wake. The two paddlers on the course staggered their starts by about a minute. In between each round or run, every paddler had approximately 10 minutes to rest before their next run. The boards were drawn randomly for the paddlers in each subsequent run (board names pulled from a hat). The entire test took about 3 hours. The weather was fairly mild and not a factor in terms of dehydration or fatigue.  The boards used were: Fanatic Fly Race Carbon 27” – 12kg Fanatic Fly Race Carbon 30” – 13kg Naish Glide Carbon 30” – 14kg Naish Javelin Carbon 28” – 13kg Coreban Alpha Race Carbon 29” – 10kg Starboard Race Carbon 27.5” – 12kg Starboard Race AST 31.5” – 17kg Starboard New/Ace AST 25.5” – 16kg Note that all of these boards are pure production boards – no custom designs, no prototypes, no pre-production demo boards and no team rider light-weight specials. The last two boards listed were AST construction whereas all others were carbon. This is clear in the weights measured, and had a definite impact upon times. Ideally we would have liked to have tested all carbon boards, but there were no available carbon boards for these sizes. The weight of boards quoted was conducted using bathroom scales on the beach at the end of the session. The boards were wet during this weigh in, and contained the fin used during the test. The measurement was rounded to the nearest kg.   THE RESULTS: Given the conditions on the day – flat water and minimal wind, one might predict the test would favour pure flat water race boards and punish the boards intended for downwind and battle of the paddle style surf racing. This was certainly the case with the Coreban Alpha Race, a board intended for open ocean conditions and planing on waves. Despite it’s light weight, it was clearly the slowest board in these flat water conditions. However, the Starboard Race and the Naish Glide are also more inclined towards waves and battle of the paddle style racing rather than flat water, yet both of these boards did remarkably well in our tests. On the flip side, the Starboard New/Ace which is a flat water racer, was not universally popular with our test team. Even though the extra weight of the AST construction played in to the results, the fact that half the riders struggled for balance and turning capability suggests that even a carbon version would not have made that much difference for those riders. Furthermore, the best times posted on this board were by riders with considerable experience riding this unique shape, which suggests the board is very much an acquired taste. Cutting to the chase, the statistics indicate that there was very little between the top 4 or 5 boards. The red Fanatic 27” achieved the best accumulated time across all 6 paddlers and was favoured by 3 paddlers. The Starboard Race 27.5” set fastest times with 2 paddlers, and the Naish Javelin and Glide, and the white Fanatic 30” all set fairly strong times. The red Fanatic and Starboard certainly worked well in the hands of the lighter riders, while the wider Naish and Fanatic were well suited to the heavier guys. At the end of the day, our test proves that Fanatic, Starboard and Naish are all building very competitive boards, and with a range of widths available, there’s a board suited to most paddlers. To find the fastest board for you, these results may offer some guidance in terms of the weight and size of riders and their preferred boards. But ultimately you will have to test for yourself. Good luck.