Mark Raaphorst was en route to New York with the latest version of the S-16 Catamaran SUP and was kind enough to let Robert Stehlik (owner of Blue Planet Surf and Zen Waterman Blog) try it out while it was on Oahu. The S-16 really excels in flat water conditions when going in a straight line. It gets up to speed really quick and doesn’t take much effort to keep it there. Robert did some flat water testing so I won’t go into that too much but the area the excited me the most about this board was going upwind.
I don’t think it will shock anyone to know that I hate going upwind on a SUP. If it wasn’t for the last part of our Hawaii Kai run being upwind, I don’t think I’d ever paddle upwind voluntarily. My body just becomes a large sail and I don’t seem to move forward. However, on the S-16, going upwind was the most enjoyable part for me. I’m not sure why but I can paddle upwind without a massive amount of effort and the balance and speed seem quite pleasant. It actually reminded me of being on an OC-1 going upwind. It wasn’t as fast or easy as an OC-1 but it was closer then any single hull board I’ve tried.
I wasn’t able to do very well in my first attempt at catching bumps but I think this will improve as the design advances. I think if I had a few more sessions, I could have done much better. When I got the right timing and angles, the board caught and kept with the bumps effortlessly. When I didn’t have the right feel and angles, I had a really hard time. This is understandable though because the design is pretty different and so is the handling and control. The S-16 is super stable. In most conditions, I would be pretty hard pressed to fall off.
If it was up to me, I’d just have the board dialed in for light wind, upwind or flatter conditions and not even worry about high winds and big bumps because I’d rather be on a Bullet 14′ or F-16 v2 in those conditions anyway. The board I tried was quite heavy because it was a prototype that was considered for the mold plug but when the new molded version comes out, I’m pretty sure it will be easier to paddle. The light weight of the first version S-16 I tried a while back was really nice, especially when transporting from the car to the water and back.
Here are some pics and video we took where the Ala Wai Canal meets with the ocean. You can see the glide for yourself. The board already looks like something out of Star Trek so aesthetically it is unreal. In just a short time of testing, people would stop and stare and want to see what we were doing. It was like the early days on a SUP but more intense. The version we rode was to be sold in New York so until the next version arrives, we’ll be anxiously waiting to try it out.