About 5-6 months ago, I decided it was time to upgrade my Surf SUP, from the C4 11’6 “Stand Em” I had been riding. The C4 was a decent board, but not ideal for the conditions I surf in. After talking to several friends, some of which compete in the Stand Up World Tour, I decided to give Paddle Surf Hawaii a try. I contacted Blane Chambers over Facebook and told him what I was looking for. Based on my size, weight, and the conditions I ride in here on the Gulf Coast in Texas, he recommended his 10’6 XW model. I had been looking at the “All Around” PSH boards, from Boardworks, but this particular model was not available through Boardworks. I had to go through Blueline out of California to get this particular model.
Luckily I knew John Becker a little bit (who works with the Blueline crew) and I contacted him, to get a feel for his thoughts. He was really helpful. He also hooked me up with a pro who works there, named Joe Rowan. Great guys, both of them. Very informative, and always returned my calls in a timely manner. Overall, they made the purchase experience a good one. I was pretty nervous about this purchase, since I had never ridden a PSH board. They were patient and answered all my questions.
After much deliberation, the 10’6XW is the board we all decided was best for me. I weigh about 215lbs, so I wanted something wide and stable. I also paddle surf on Padre Island, where there is no channel to paddle out through. We have to go right through the white water. To make matters worse, the waves here tend to be primarily wind chop and they are generally about 3 seconds apart. This makes it really tough when you are on a SUP board. I typically get myself out to the lineup OK, but fall as I am turning to grab a wave. With only 3 seconds between waves, I generally get caught before I can turn around and get some momentum. Thus, the desire for a better board than my C4.
Paddling out in this mess can be a work out.
This board here has 3 attributes that make it good for where I paddle. One, a low rocker. This helps me get out through the chop. My other board, had a pretty high nose on it, so waves would grab it and send the board straight up, making it hard for me to stay balanced, and get over or through the wave.
Another nice features of this board, is the sharp point to the nose. This makes a difference for me, trying to pierce through the waves.
Last but not least, is the width. Given the conditions I am trying to paddle out in to, having a really stable board is a big help. This board delivers on that. Other than the fact that these 3 features make it easier for me to get out to the line up, this board is probably overkill for the size of waves we have here in Texas. This board was designed with the North Shore of Oahu in mind.
Genelle Ives, Blueline team rider with her pink PSH Ripper
As far as fin configurations are concerned, there are 5 fin boxes, so you can ride it as a Thruster or Quad setup. I ride Thruster, because it works well for what I want to do. I have 2 other friends who have this board, and they prefer riding it Quad. For any type of high performance surfing this sounds like the better options.
Another thing about this particular version of the board that I found appealing is how light weight it is. I can’t seem to find a weight quoted on either the PSH or Blueline websites, but it feels like it weighs around 22lbs. The reason it is so light weight, is because of the construction. They use a lighter density foam in this board, and no stringer. This is made possible by the addition of a bamboo veneer. Bamboo is strong and light weight, so I can see why they chose to go this route.
There is a down side to using 1lb density foam and no stringer though. The very first trip out on the board (at my local lake), I noticed my heels starting to make indentations on the deck. It wasn’t really noticeable to the eye, mainly due to the thick EVA pad, but I could feel it. At first, I thought maybe I was imagining things, but after looking at some posts on the message boards, I could see that other customers were complaining about this too.
The other thing that happened (which may be a result of the type of construction), is the paint is starting to break away from the rails in 1-2 inch sections, near the middle of the board. This is happening on a section of the rail below where my paddle would hit, so it doesn’t appear to be a result of anything I did. After showing it to a friend who owns a surf shop, we came to the conclusion that it may be a result of the board flexing, likely due to not having enough rigidity for someone my size.
My understanding is, Blueline and PSH have since beefed up the deck to prevent these kinds of issues. This is great news for people looking to buy one now, but unfortunately, it doesn’t help those of us who bought the earlier models.
Aside from that, and the fact that it came in the wrong color (orange and not red), the board has exceeded all of my expectations. It paddles extremely well, and turns even better. With about two strokes, I can turn it completely around. I would have never thought a board of this size would be so maneuverable. On top of that, it is downright fast. When I first started riding it, I had mentally decided it was slower than my C4. This would have made sense, since it was giving up a foot of waterline. Once I put a GPS on it though, I found it was every bit as fast as the larger board, and probably even faster. In calm conditions, I can easily get the board up in the 4.7-4.9 range. Yesterday, I had a bit of a tail wind, and got the board up to 5.4MPH. That’s moving pretty well for a Surf SUP.
A lot of people have told me that Blane Chambers is a shaping genius. After owning this board for several months, I completely agree. This board defies logic in multiple ways. It is faster than boards with longer water lines, and it turns significantly better than boards which are 3-4 inches narrower. Not something I expected, but something I have now grown accustom too. Anytime I get on a friends board, I can’t help comparing it to my PSH, and they always seems to fall short.
Another thing I love about Blane, is he never sits still. While other board manufactures are content with a “good design,” he isn’t. He already has some of the best boards on the planet, but that doesn’t stop him. He is constantly pushing the envelope and trying to find new ways to make his boards better. You can also feel the passion he has for surfing, in every one of his Facebook posts. This guy loves his job and he will never be satisfied with “Good Enough.”
He is now working on a series of boards that is a hybrid between a race board and a surf board. It has elements of both a planing hull and a displacement hull. From what I hear they are amazing. I am hoping to find a way to demo one. If it’s as good as they say it is, I will definitely add one to my quiver.
10’6″ x 32″ x 4 5/8″ Volume=161L
Cost – $1399
Even though I have had some minor issues with the build quality, I would still highly recommend this board to anyone looking for a premium Surf SUP. Part of this is because I am told Blueline and PSH have updated the design to add some more rigidity to it.
Even more importantly, this board is just a pleasure to ride. Whether I am in the surf, or just a cruise on the lake, it performs amazingly well. It’s fast and easy to turn, which makes catching waves an easier proposition. In addition to catching waves easier, it surfs better than any other SUP I own (about 8 or 9) or have used or rented. The largest waves I have personally ridden this board is 4-5 feet, which is a shame, considering this board was made with the massive waves of the North Shore in mind. All I can tell you is, I have spoken to three other friends who are riding this board in much larger conditions, and their faces light up when describing it. I have heard them use words like, “Unbeatable,” “Amazing,” “Fast and Stable,” and “The best SUP board I have ever ridden.”
Amazing design, exceptional maneuverability, quite fast for its size, and a gorgeous board to look at. I think overall the price is fair too, compared to other premium boards
The purchase experience in dealing with Blueline was pretty good too. Joe and John were especially good to work with.
Build Quality could be better. Quality Control (color problem) could also use some work.
Design/Performance 5 out of 5
Construction/Build Quality 3 out of 5
Price Performance/Value 4 out of 5