Tips and tricks for fine­tun­ing your SUP ac­ces­sories



When mov­ing boards from A to Beach with a com­pact car, there are plenty of ways to rack them wrong. Cinch too tight and you risk a pres­sure crack. Cinch too loose or use in­ad­e­quate tiedowns and you’re li­able to lose the boards com­pletely. Stick them out your side-win­dow and, well, you’ll prob­a­bly wind up on @ kookofthe­day.

There’s an art to haul­ing boards with smaller ve­hi­cles, es­pe­cially when stack­ing mul­ti­ple sleds. The vast ma­jor­ity of SUPS are too big to fit in­side a car, mak­ing a solid roof rack a ne­ces­sity for smaller rides. Zip-tie foam around the cross­bars (duct tape frays) so there’s no chance that ex­posed rack bars da­m­age your board.

Se­cure board to rack the tried and true way: with straps. Two long (six- to 12-foot) lengths of one-inch web­bing will do the trick, one for each cross­bar. Cam straps work well (as do two-part ratch­et­ing come-alongs, though not as sim­ple), with the added ben­e­fit of ad­justa­bil­ity for stack­ing mul­ti­ple boards. (Note: DO NOT use bungee cords; they will even­tu­ally break and your board will land on the high­way. Re­fer again to @kookofthe­day)

Though fins-for­ward surf-cul­ture diehards will end­lessly ar­gue oth­er­wise, sci­ence says the most aero­dy­namic setup for a racked board is nose for­ward and bot­tom up to keep air flow­ing down on the board (lift is bad). If you’re stack­ing mul­ti­ple boards for long dis­tances, wedge a cou­ple small pieces of foam or rolled tow­els be­tween the noses and tails to min­i­mize shift and da­m­age in trans­port. Tip: Place straps prior to stack­ing and cinch them snug, but not so tight to risk da­m­age. Tie off loose ends with halfhitch knots for added safety.

The draw­back of straps is se­cu­rity. Any knife can cut them dur­ing your post-pad­dle beers. While steel-threaded, lock­ing strap op­tions abound, an­other sys­tem we like that elim­i­nates the tie-down en­tirely is from Lock­rack, fea­tur­ing sim­ple slid­ing, lock­ing arms that pinch pad­dle­boards and kayaks in place. Yakima, Thule and Inno also make great lock­ing rack com­po­nents. The key is find­ing a setup that works for your ride and your rack.

Pad­dlers fall into two gear camps: Those that ob­sess over ev­ery item, seek­ing gold- en bits of in­for­ma­tion to gain any sliver of per­for­mance on the wa­ter or an ex­tra year of longevity in the garage; and those that could care less and just want to pad­dle that board now, fac­tory fins and all. Wher­ever you fall on the gear- geek spec­trum, un­der­stand­ing the ba­sics of op­ti­miz­ing and main­tain­ing your hard-earned equip­ment will take you a long way. We reached out to our top con­trib­u­tors and ath­letes to gather some hacks, tips and tricks to max­i­mize both the per­for­mance and the life­span of your gear. –JH


For most pad­dlers, choos­ing the right fin setup is a tricky con­cept to grasp. But it’s also one of the most im­por­tant. To cut through the con­fu­sion, we went straight to the source for a few tips from a guy who ded­i­cated his ca­reer to find­ing the right fins, FCS co-founder and board de­signer Tyler Call­away.

Touring: For flat­wa­ter it’s best to find a good all-around fin with a de­cent-sized sur­face area and at least a nine-inch depth.

Rac­ing: Race boards call for some­thing sta­ble and hy­dro­dy­namic. The deeper the fin and the more area it has—es­pe­cially in the tip—the more sta­ble the board be­comes. The more rake (an­gle) it has in the lead­ing edge, the bet­ter it will shed sea­weed and kelp. The trade­off is that the more rake it has, the more re­sis­tance you get dur­ing buoy turns.

Down­wind: These boards have so much rail in the wa­ter that a straight upand-down fin with no rake makes them eas­ier to edge into bumps dur­ing a glide.

Surf­ing: I rec­om­mend us­ing big­ger fins on your SUP than what you use on your reg­u­lar surf­board. The goal is to get the fin close to pro­por­tional with the size of your board.

Long­boards work best with a two-plu­sone setup. For the side-bites, I rec­om­mend go­ing 4 ½ to 4 ¾ inches long. With the cen­ter fin, you should be some­where be­tween six and nine inches for per­for­mance surf­ing and if you’re go­ing solely for noserid­ing, you might even go 10 inches with a lot of rake to keep the tail from slid­ing out.

For short­board SUPS big­ger fins are usu­ally still bet­ter; big­ger fins in front ac­tu­ally loosen the board up and make it turn faster. I’m six feet tall and I like them to be about 5 ¼ inches in the front. Per­son­ally, I usu­ally run a quad (four-fin) setup be­cause they gen­er­ate speed more eas­ily in softer surf. If it’s hol­low and peaky, I’ll opt for a thruster (three fins).

River: Any ex­tra short-depth, small keel-shaped, flex­i­ble fin that is prefer­ably de­signed to flex over be­fore it dam­ages the boxes will suf­fice on the river. Smaller is usu­ally bet­ter in shal­low rapids. –TC

Choos­ing the right fin setup is a tricky con­cept to grasp. But it’s also one of the most im­por­tant.


Coiled or straight? An­kle or calf? Com­pe­ti­tion, stan­dard or big-wave?

With so many dif­fer­ent leash op­tions, we’d for­give you for get­ting con­fused. There’s no such thing as a “do-it-all leash,” and de­cid­ing which leash is right for you re­quires some ed­u­ca­tion. So grab a seat—school’s in ses­sion.

River: With the po­ten­tial for rocks, logs and other haz­ards in your path, a leash can go from safety device to safety haz­ard with a split-sec­ond snag. The safest op­tion is a quick-re­lease, coiled leash usu­ally six- to 10-feet long. The quick-re­lease fea­ture al­lows you to de­tach should your leash get hung up, and by at­tach­ing the coiled leash to your PFD in­stead of your an­kle (the stan­dard protocol for river standup pad­dlers) it won’t drag be­hind you with the dan­ger of catch­ing on snag-prone sec­tions.

Surf­ing: The rule of thumb for SUP surf leashes is to use a straight leash that’s ap­prox­i­mately one foot longer than your board. This al­lows the board to ex­tend away from you dur­ing a wipe­out with­out ric­o­chet­ing back at your face as you come up for air. The thick­ness of your leash should be pro­por­tion­ate to the size of the board, but even on short­board SUPS you gen­er­ally won’t want to go slim­mer than six mil­lime­ters.

Down­wind: Once a pad­dler be­comes dis­mounted it doesn’t take much wind for a board to pin­wheel into the dis­tance and dis­ap­pear. For that rea­son, a strong leash is crit­i­cal for down­wind­ing. Your best op­tion is un­doubt­edly a coiled calf-leash for two reasons: It won’t in­ter­fere with your foot­work and it won’t slow you down by drag­ging through the wa­ter. Semi-coiled leashes also work well, as they pro­vide less re­sis­tance when walk­ing the board and are less likely to snap back dur­ing a fall than tightly coiled op­tions.

Flat­wa­ter/rac­ing: Whether you’re in the heat of the race or the mid­dle of a scenic cruise, the last thing you need is to get tan­gled in your leash. For these dis­ci­plines, we pre­fer a coiled calf leash that is be­tween six and 10 feet long. It’ll stay off the deck, won’t in­ter­fere with your foot­work and al­low you to fo­cus on what re­ally mat­ters: pad­dling. –J H


Yes, that is a PVC handle. No, I don’t want a higher per­for­mance grip. This one works. It cost me 76 cents. Could I have driven half an hour to an ac­tual pad­dle­sports store to buy a proper re­place­ment? Prob­a­bly. Could a shop pro­fes­sional with the proper tools and equip­ment have saved me from what be­came half a ham-fisted day? Per­haps. But that’s no fun. And it’s no way to form a kin­ship with your most im­por­tant piece of gear.

Af­ter crack­ing and los­ing the tem­po­rary handle on a 2009 Werner Nitro pro­to­type, I had a prob­lem. The sim­ple so­lu­tion was at my cor­ner hard­ware store in the bin of pip­efit­tings. With a wooden dowel sec­tion sawed and then sanded down to fit in the empty tube top, I screwed on the threaded end of the PVC Tee sec­tion and slathered it all in two-part epoxy.

I used this pad­dle for the next eight years. Down­wind, surf, river, through count­less beat­ings, breath­less miles and un­speak­able treat­ment by rocky whitewater runs and salty air­line bag­gage han­dlers alike.

When any­one asks me for gear rec­om­men­da­tions, the an­swer is al­ways the same sim­ple truth: Get the gear that you will use. My Cro-magnon handle-badge of honor taught me a corol­lary les­son: Keep the stuff that works for you. If it breaks, fix it.

Af­ter nearly a decade of abuse, the pad­dle fi­nally broke. The wave was too big, my tal­ent too small. I emerged dazed with half a blade. In that mo­ment, my next thought went to the handle. The PVC re­mained. Lick­ing my wounds on shore, I vowed to never throw away or re­place the proto-pad­dle. It sits, pa­tiently await­ing the next in­spired so­lu­tion for the other end. –DS

A SHAPER’S TAKE Dave Daum, owner of Kings Pad­dle Sports, on or­der­ing a cus­tom SUP.

The world is gov­erned by the laws of physics. The chal­lenge of board de­sign­ers is to com­bine all those fea­tures into a shape that some­one is go­ing to en­joy. That’s not locked in stone; there are in­fi­nite com­bi­na­tions. Peo­ple come to us as board builders and ex­pect us to have the right tools in the tool­box and pro­duce some­thing that will over­whelm them. If we do that con­sis­tently, they are go­ing to love it, the sport’s go­ing to grow and our brand will do very well.

Peo­ple used to ask for the short­board-style SUPS quite of­ten. But we have found that most peo­ple can get just as high or even higher per­for­mance out of an all-around or noserider-style SUP with the right rocker, vol­ume and shape out­line and they don’t have to fight so much.

As shapers, when some­one or­ders a cus­tom board we need to ask ques­tions and let pad­dlers tell us what they want. Where do they pad­dle? What kind of waves do they surf? What is there true skill level? What do they want to do with their board? That tends to fo­cus us in on the style of board they need.

“Peo­ple come to us as board builders and ex­pect us to have the right tools in the tool­box.”


I spent years of my life wor­ry­ing if my car would be stolen while I was out pad­dling. Ev­ery time I crouched over, looked both ways to check if I was be­ing watched and tucked my keys un­der my bumper, I won­dered if this would fi­nally be the time my car was broken into. Maybe the fact that my rig was a waxy rust-bucket de­terred any would-be thieves.

I even­tu­ally got a new (to me) ve­hi­cle and with it, a key vault that at­taches to my trailer hitch and locks my keys in a box re­quir­ing a four-digit code. My anx­i­ety has been re­duced to al­most noth­ing. To help you feel the same, here are three tips for leav­ing your car worry-free while you’re out on the wa­ter. 1. Park near peo­ple. Park­ing in that shady spot at the end of the street? Think again. The more peo­ple are around, the smaller the chance that some­one’s go­ing to be creep­ing around your rig. 2. Don’t ad­ver­tise. Keep your wal­let, your phone, your watch and any­thing else of value out of sight. If your glove box locks, put ex­pen­sive items in there, or just hide them un­der a seat. 3. Don’t hide your key on your car. A key box has made my time on the wa­ter that much more re­lax­ing (we like the Key­vault from Kan­u­lock, $45). If you don’t want to drop the dough on one of these won­ders, take your key with you into the wa­ter on a neck­lace or at­tached to the elas­tic band in the key pocket that ev­ery wet­suit comes with. In a pinch, you can wrap your key in a towel and leave it on the beach, but a thief could be watch­ing you do that too. In our ex­pe­ri­ence, peace of mind makes all the dif­fer­ence. -WT


Even your fa­vorite wet­suit is even­tu­ally bound to spring a leak. Luck­ily, with a lit­tle gump­tion and a slather of wet­suit ce­ment you can pro­long its life and put off in­vest­ing a ton of dough in an­other. Here’s how. 1. Rinse the pee from your suit (don’t lie) in fresh­wa­ter and then dry it out com­pletely. 2. While it dries, venture down to your lo­cal surf shop and pick up some wet­suit ce­ment or ad­he­sive—aquaseal works well for us—and a small ap­pli­ca­tor, like a paint­brush. 3. For a fix that’s go­ing to last, cut a piece of neo­prene from an old wet­suit and make sure it’s big enough to cover the en­tire le­sion with an inch to spare on all sides. If you don’t have an old suit to cut up, neo­prene tape will suf­fice. You can find it at your lo­cal shop for a few bucks. 4. Clean the ripped area with rub­bing al­co­hol, and once it’s dry, ap­ply your wet­suit ce­ment gen­er­ously at the seam and around the edges on the ex­te­rior of the wet­suit. If it’s a big hole, paint the area around it out to one inch. 5. Wait for the glue to feel tacky and then firmly bring the two sides of the tear to­gether. Lay the piece of neo­prene over the dam­aged area and press it firmly and evenly onto the ad­he­sive. 6. Let dry overnight. 7. Once dry, care­fully cut the patch’s ex­cess neo­prene so its edges end with the dried ad­he­sive. 8. You’re done! Don your suit, grab your SUP and go shred.

Note: Be­fore you go through the ef­fort to re­pair your suit, make sure to check its war­ranty. If your rub­ber’s still cov­ered (usu­ally for a year), send it back to the manufacturer and they’ll fix it for free. – MM

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