First Impressions of the F-16 distance stand up paddle board and C4 14′ and 12′ distance stand up paddle boards
It was great to get in the water this afternoon/evening after being land locked in California for a week. My friend called me last week and told me to call his buddy who would let me use his board to stand up paddle surf in California. I told him that I didn’t go to California to stand up paddle surf, I was there for other reasons. It’s too cold for my Hawaii warm blood. If I need a wetsuit, forget it.
I called up Todd Bradley because I saw an F-16 setup for goofy foot at his place. I asked if I could borrow it today because it seemed windy. He told me he was doing a downwind run with a friend from Kahala to Outrigger Canoe Club which I think is around 3 miles or so. After I invited myself I met him at 4:40 PM at OCC and we drove to Kahala to launch.
If Todd didn’t wait up for me every 20 minutes or so, I would have been at least 15 minutes behind them. To say the least, I did a decent amount of swimming today. It all came together at the end of the run where the chop died down and I caught some waves.
Conditions: Wind around 5-10 mph with higher gusts toward the end of the run. Wind way side shore and side offshore. Going around Diamond Head had some larger chop and small bumps but nothing major.
Equipment: I used my C4 Waterman 8.5″ paddle and rode the 16′ long F-16.
Pros of F-16: The F-16 is a fast board. It is also noticeably light. It paddles fast and catches small bumps easily. The foot steering mechanism works surprisingly well. A little push of the foot and the board actually starts to turn. This is especially helpful on a 16 foot stand up board. The ability to turn with the foot lever is especially helpful when the wind is blowing at your side and the waves and chop are hitting you from the other side. Normally you would need to paddle on one side just to stay on your path but with the foot lever you can paddle on both sides and not have one side of your body fresh and the other exhausted.
Cons of F-16: The board is a bit tippy for its size. This is probably due to my skill level and lack of experience on the board. I had a tricky time when the waves would push against the tail of the board and I would lose my balance. Again, this is probably my skill level. The foot steering mechanism is easy to turn left but harder to turn right. This is due to the way you need to place your foot to push the lever. It’s an odd position but I’m sure with time it gets to be a natural feeling.
Verdict on F-16: This is an awesome stand up paddle racing board for distance runs. It really comes alive when the wind at your back is strong. You can almost ride it without paddling in that situation. At $2,500 you need to be sure you get out and paddle it but it really is a nice alternative when the wind picks up.
After the run I got on Todd’s prototype 12′ and 14′ distance stand up paddle boards. These are 2 generations old to the ones that C4 has coming out in a few months by Boardworks. Both boards had sunken decks and a lot of dual concave on the bottom. I didn’t have my camera with me so I’ll have to get pictures later but I didn’t think I could stand on them because of the width. I was wrong.
Both the 12′ and 14′ were super stable. It was a weird feeling to be able to balance so easily on a board that narrow. They are surprisingly stable and they are FAST. The dimensions are 12′x29″x5″ and 14′x26″x7″.
I only did a few short ‘out and back’ tests but both boards were impressively fast. I can’t wait to try the production models coming out soon. Todd said they also have a high end production model being made in conjunction by master OC-1 builder Karel Tresnak. That version will be a carbon fiber mold, similar in construction to the F-16 and OC-1 canoes but very different rocker, angles, concave, etc with the same dimensions as the production 14′.
This is pretty exciting for me to see what a dedicated distance stand up paddle board is like. The ride is very different than my 10′ range stand up boards and I like it. This whole stand up paddle thing has messed up my kite boarding because I have no urge to kite anymore.