Q&A – Beginner Board Recommendations


Chris wrote:

Hi, I’m sorry to bother you, but would you be able to help recommend a good beginner board for me? I’m trying to start standup paddling, and I’ve been reading this website as well as other forums, etc. trying to find a good board.

Based on all the reviews you’ve done, I figured you were the guy to ask. There’s so many different boards to choose from that I’m just making myself nuts trying to figure out the differences. I’m 6′3″, 235 lbs., and a novice surfer.

I’m looking for the most durable board possible, and I’m more interested in cruising than surfing with it. I’ll probably surf only occasionally, in knee-high waves. I was looking at the 11′6 c4 waterman from hawaiian south shore. I also inquired at psh, and Austin said they’d be getting in some 11′0 x 30 x 4 7/8 hand glassed boards in august. Would either of these boards suit me and be able to handle the abuse of a beginner falling/whacking it with a paddle every day? Or would you recommend an entirely different brand/board/model?

I like those two options I mentioned because both come with pad, fins, and paddle, which made them more economical for me. I’d like to stay in the 1400-1800 price range for the total package.

I’d really appreciate any advice or opinions you have, such as whether you’d recommend a molded sandwich board or a hand glassed one. I’ve been reading this site daily, and I love it. Thank you in advance for your time!

Durable, cruising and surfing occasionally in knee high waves…here’s what I suggest for your height and weight.

C4 Waterman 11′6″ standem
C4 Waterman Holoholo 12′
Surftech Laird 12′1″
Surftech Takayama 11′6″
Surftech Infinity 11′
Angulo 11′9″

Once PSH has their 11′ it will be worth a look.

All of the above are sandwich epoxy and durable. Tape your paddle blade and you shouldn’t have rail damage. You can demo all the boards above at Wet Feet Hawaii if you’re on Oahu. www.wetfeethawaii.com Tell them I sent you. I think Tropical Blends Surf www.tropicalblendsurf.com also demos boards and they’re the ones that make the Angulos. Tell Kamau or Jim there I sent you.

If you are definitely buying new then I highly suggest you demo/rent the board first to see if you like it. Most shops allow you to apply your rental cost to your purchase so you don’t lose anything by trying.

Since you’re just beginning I would suggest you go on www.craigslist.com and buy used. You can get something for $800-1200 for the board and a used paddle is around $200. You can also get a fiberglass paddle like the C4 one in the $200ish something range. Then once you get the hang of sup and decide if you want to continue you can sell your used one, not lose too much money and get exactly what you want. You’ll end up trying other people’s gear in the break and may find you want something smaller or different.


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25 Responses to “Q&A – Beginner Board Recommendations”

  1. ken 1ken

    What about shorter and wider with little or no stand up experience. What would be a goo dstarter board for me at 5′9″ and about 265? I dive and kayak, but never got into surfing (used to sponge when I was younger). thanks…ken

  2. Evan Leong 2evan

    If you’re gonna go short and wide you should call Joe Blair at 858-755-6629. He can custom shape you a shorter board that can handle your weight. i.e. 9′6″ x 31″ or 32″, etc.

  3. Laura 3Laura

    Hi, I am on the east coast on the Chesapeake and would also use it for cruising. No one rents them and none on craigslist or any other list, so have to buy new, what would you recommend for 5′ 6″ 140. It really hasn’t picked up here yet. About the only place to buy them is HTO and they don’t know anything about them.



  4. lam 4lam

    Can someone recommend a good starter board for a novice, 6′, 170lbs.

  5. cindy 5cindy

    what board would you recommend for racing…my height is 5′0 and 105 pounds

  6. Evan Leong 6evan

    Cindy – What are the racing conditions where you are at? i.e. Battle of the Paddle style, downwind, flat water, etc

  7. Marcia 7Marcia

    Could you recommend a paddle board for a beginner (really never tried before)
    my height is 5′6 and 115pounds
    Flat water, cruising

  8. Evan Leong 8evan

    At your weight and height you can most likely ride almost anything. It all depends on where you will ride, if you surf, cruise or race, etc. If you just want to paddle around then one consideration may be the weight of the board since lighter is easier to carry around.

  9. Diego 9Diego

    Hi Evan, please help!
    I’m 6,6 250lbs and I’m just starting. I want to cruise and ride 4 feet waves max. Ahhh and I live in Argentina so my local dealer sells Starboard brand boards. What board would you recommend? thank you for your time!!

  10. Mr. C 10Mr. C

    Quick question. I’m in the process of acquiring a 10′6″ customs tokoro sup 30″wide 4 3/4 thick. I’m 6′0″ 270. The guy I’m getting from is about 10 pounds lighter then me and it floats him well. Is that to small? Thanks for your help

  11. Evan Leong 11evan

    Mr. C – I think it depends on what you’re going to use the board for and what skill level you are. That sounds like similar dimensions for a Surftech Softop 10′6″. For a beginner in waves and winds over 10 mph it will seem small unless you have great balance and are already experienced. I need more details to give you a better opinion and the best way for you to know for sure is to demo the board first.

  12. Evan Leong 12evan

    Diego – If you want a really stable board that is easy to ride then I would suggest the Starboard Avanti 11′2″. It’s stable enough to float my 300 lbs friend and if it actually turns in the surf. Other options are the 12′ Big Easy and 10′ Whopper. Starboard has a great board finder wizard at http://www.star-board-sup.com/2012/board_finder/ too.

  13. Mr. C 13Mr. C

    Hey thanks for you’re response. I actually tried he custom 10′6″ tokoro and it seemed more like a high performance board. Although I was ok on it I wasn’t as stable as the 12′ Ron house I tried out. Big difference! It was like going from a sports car to a caddy!
    I figured since I’m going to be packInt my kids on it, that is better go with the by boy.
    Again thanks for your advice.

    Mahālo nui loa

  14. Evan Leong 14evan

    Mr. C – I think you made a good choice. I would have done the same. I always like it a little more stable than not, especially with a chance of it being windy or choppy.

  15. Lucy 15Lucy

    Hi Evan,
    I’ve been all over the internet and am clueless…. Recently started SUP ing… using a Jimmy Styks ‘Big Bro’ (11′6” – 30 inch wide), which I have read is pretty crappy….

    But since we really had nothing to compare it to, we thought it was great….
    I’m looking to buy a board that I will share with my husband… eventually one of us will branch out and get another one later on. Since its a start up, we’re looking to stay under $1000

    Looking to basically do flat water and possibly moving on to small waves later.

    Me 5′3” – 159 lbs
    Hubby – 5′9″ 200 lbs

    Suggestions are GREATLY appreciated!

    Lucy in NJ

  16. Lui 16Lui

    Hi Evan,
    I’m 5′1 and about 95 pounds,and a beginner at paddleboarding I mostly ride on flat water with the occasional wave. I have been trying to find the right board for my size for a while, but it’s nearly impossible I was hopeing you could help.

  17. Mrs. L 17Mrs. L

    Can you help with a board selection? 5′ 8″ around 150 lbs, beginner looking for a board that handles best in flat to low wave (knee high) conditions with some wind? Thanks for any advise you can give.

  18. Evan Leong 18evan

    Lucy – Are you going to be cruising on flat water or racing? Will you share the board or are you looking for 2 boards?

  19. Evan Leong 19evan

    Lui – At your height and weight you can pretty much ride anything. Are you looking to race or just cruise? Is the weight of the board an issue for you?

  20. Evan Leong 20evan

    Mrs L – Are you riding in the ocean or inland? Are you going to be racing or doing downwinders at all or just cruising and surfing? How important is the turning ability of the board to you on a wave?

  21. Lucy 21Lucy

    Hi Evan,
    we will be mostly cruising on flat water and sharing the board…

    We ended purchasing an NSP 11′ board which is great for now… next year my husband will take this over and I will get my own… recommendations for that would be great too!


  22. Evan Leong 22evan

    Lucy – If weight or storage size is a factor then you can probably be fine on most boards down to 9′ or 9′6″ although there is no real benefit other than that if you’re just going to paddle on flat water. If you have a dog or kids that want to hitch a ride then it’s always more comfy on a board 11′ or larger. There are so many options these days that if you can be really specific on what you want to do then I can make suggestions. The number of choices these days are pretty awesome. It’s almost necessary to now have a racing quiver for different conditions and races and not just in surfing.

  23. Mrs. L 23Mrs. L

    I’m thinking 11′ or larger, I live in Southern California and would use it for both ocean and inland. No tricks or racing, just cruising.

  24. Michele 24Michele

    Hi There! I am definitely a novice SUPer. Want to invest in my own board. Most interested in stability since I’m not the most graceful. Will be using it in the flat calm waters in the South. Could you give me a recommendation on a good SUP package – board and paddle? Would appreciate it.

  25. Evan Leong 25evan

    Michele – Best bet for you is to visit your local SUP dealer and demo some boards and paddles so you know what you like the best.

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