Thursday, January 31, 2008

Board size, salt vs fresh water

Sent VIA contact, a question from the Mid-West...
I am very glad to have found your website. I live in central Ohio, haven't had much time to get to the beach, and I have been keeping up with stand-up since I started seeing the pictures of Laird years ago. I do not own a board but as I was shopping for one I came upon an issue that needed resolved before purchasing. Do I need to buy a longer board for fresh water (lake, reservoir) than I would for salt water? Is the density of the water a huge issue with the board length vs. rider weight ratio? Please advise.
thanks, Brett W

Brett, Board sizing is a very complicated issue. The simple answer is obvious, fresh water doesn't float a board as well as salt water. I use the same board in salt water and fresh but I paddle in boardshorts in freshwater. I wear a wetsuit in our cold ocean waters. A wet wetsuit adds a lot of weight so I've never noticed a difference in salt water flotation. If you wonder how heavy your wetsuit is when wet, soak it and put it in a plastic bucket on the bathroom scale. With the extra weight in mind, boards made for Oregon have always been a little bigger than Hawaii.
Keep in mind that volume is what determines flotation in a board more than length. Length, width and thickness should all be considered. The best board-shapers have figured out where to put the volume in the board. Where you stand (therefore weighting the board) should be a sweet spot that doesn't cause the nose to plow or the tail to drag. The extra cost is worth it for a board shaped by a reputable shaper and if re-produced, replicated exactly.
I like bigger, high volume, boards for flatwater. 11' to 12.5' and 29" to 31" wide.
Any other comments out there?

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