When Mark Raaphorst first told me about the SIC Standamaran in 2010, I knew I had to try it out so I flew from Oahu to Maui and got a chance to test the first version on a South Shore Kihei downwinder. The Kihei downwind conditions were amazing. It was like the best Hawaii Kai run I’ve been on with wind directly at my back, making it feel like a train ride. It was super fun. The V1 Standamaran felt really light weight and it was the first time I was able to comfortably paddle a SUP upwind. Even though the flat platform in the middle would drag when catching larger bumps, I still wanted one so I put in an order. Seven versions later I finally got one! Introducing the SIC Standamaran Version 8.
I picked up the board (if it can be called a board) from Young Brothers and took it straight to the beach. The first session was not ideal conditions for what the Standamaran is made for. The Standamaran excels in flat water, straight routes and small bumps. The big advantages are the side to side stability and the ease at which it glides, resulting in much less torque on one’s shoulders and a lot less energy being used. The conditions for my first session were light winds with the peak of an overhead south swell. It was a bit awkward at first trying to figure out the best way to carry the Standamaran. I ended up putting my head through the middle and carrying it on both shoulders, the same way I sometimes carried my kids on my shoulders when they were small.
I also couldn’t go more than 10 feet without people looking at me in disbelief. It reminded me of when I first tried a SUP and no one knew what it was. Some comments that I heard were:
1) “What the heck is that?”
2) “Where do you sit on that thing?”
3) “What do you call that?”
I gave a few quick answers and kept on going because I wanted to test it out.
Once I got to the water I noticed that the channel was closing out with waves and the inside area was pretty bumpy due to the high tide. Kids were bodyboarding the shorebreak backwash. I paddled around for a few minutes and then attempted to catch chest high waves in the channel. I got one decent ride but the rest were epic fails. I instinctively stepped back and fell off. I tried to lean on one hull to turn and fell off. I tried extending the foot pedal far back and that held me back from dropping in. The SIC Bullet 12 and 14 would have been really fun to surf these waves on so I decided that catching bigger waves was not this board’s strong point. The single hull SIC Bullets are a bit easier to yank it on a wave. The Standamaran doesn’t like to be yanked, it likes finesse. That’s good for me because I’m not into having to use a lot of brute force.
One other major difference I had to learn how to handle was how the Standamaran pearl dives. Because the rocker is so straight and the front volume of each hull is lower than a bullet, the nose likes to poke under water on certain waves. On larger waves the tendency was to try and get the nose up by stepping back but that doesn’t work because in order to turn the Standamaran you really need to use the foot pedal. On a larger wave the feeling is very similar to downhill skiing which was weird for me at first and something that I have grown to enjoy. I had to get this board dialed in before the races that were being run during the next week so I paddled it a lot more than I normally would paddle.
I had my 8 year old with me and we also tried it as a tandem board. I had him stand up behind me and hold onto my waist when needed. He’s about 50 lbs. We ended up catching a waist high wave and made it without falling. We fell a few times and one time I stepped on him and then fell. Good thing he didn’t get crushed. He was a great sport. We had fun. I was amazed at how stable the Standamaran performed in that situation. We didn’t feel off balance except once we were on the wave and trying to figure out how to surf it. I paddled back to shore and that was it for session #1.
My takeaways from session #1:
- It was super stable, especially side to side balance. I could put almost 70% of my weight on one side and wouldn’t flip over.
- It was easier on my shoulders, it takes less effort and grunt power to keep it moving.
- It was lighter weight than I expected and much stiffer.
- It doesn’t yaw left and right. It’s natural course is straight, even when paddling primarily on one side. This allowed me to focus on a proper stroke.
- The way it turned, especially on a wave was similar to my OC1 or OC2 canoe. Once it starts tracking on a wave it is slow to change directions. In fact, it was very similar to my OC1 in that it doesn’t like to be yanked, it likes finesse and to keep it going at a speed between 6-8 mph takes less effort.
- It definitely gets a lot of attention.
The next day I wanted to test it out again and the conditions were similar. There wasn’t much wind so a downwinder didn’t sound like fun and the south swell was still pumping out overhead waves and closing out the channel where I paddle. I decided to do a flat water distance paddle which I never do because I’m not really into endurance activities. I ended up paddling from Kaimana Beach to Ala Moana Bowls and back. I think that’s roughly 5 miles total. The water in front of the Natatorium down to Publics was a little bumpy but the side chop had nothing on the Standamaran. It was effortless to balance and steer. When I passed Queens Surf and Canoes, the entire lineup turned around and watched me paddle by. The same thing happened as I passed by Canoes and Pops. It was like I was paddling by naked or something. That definitely made me feel unique. I caught a few small waves at Pops and rode it from the outside almost to shore. I noticed that the Standamaran really moves in small bumps and flat water. Once it gets going, it keeps going with very little effort. This was especially noticeable on the tiny bump. Where my bullet would normally fall off the back of the bump, the Standamaran kept on going. On my way back to Kaimana, the tide had changed and was dropping. Now the reef near Publics were exposed and the waves were still breaking on it. I stopped for a while, assessed my situation and paddled hard to get inside and made it with no problems. I paddled back to where I started, cleaned up and went home. It was really apparent that the amount of energy saved by paddling the Standamaran was substantial. I was way less tired and sore than I normally would have been. Add in the fact my left shoulder still has a recovering torn rotator cuff and this makes the board worth every penny. Just being able to paddle like normal again is such a blessing.
My takeaways from session #2:
- The Standamaran really moves in flat water and has a nice long glide.
- It catches small waves better than big ones and keeps on going.
- The way it tracks and turns on waves feels very similar to an OC-1.
- Because it likes to go straight, proper paddle techniques greatly improve the performance.
- Because balance is not an issue, the focus can be on improving the paddle stroke and that also transfers to surfing SUP’s later
- It doesn’t jump over the bump in front, it goes under it. It almost feels like walking through a wall. You start in one bump and then the noses start poking and next thing you know you’re in the bump in front.
- Paddling the Standamaran takes way less effort so recovery is quicker and there’s more than enough energy to paddle the next day.
The next session was the next day and my first downwinder. The conditions looked like it was going to be windy but ended up being 10 mph with gusts of 15 mph. Luckily the tide was good though so that made it a little better. I was very anxious to try out the Standamaran in real downwind bumps. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much in terms of bumps and with the light wind it was hard to tell how it turns on larger bumps. One thing I noticed was that the Standamaran does not go over bumps like on the SIC Bullets or OC1’s. It goes under the bump. That was really weird for me at first and extremely exhilarating once I got used to it. I’d catch a bump and then try to get up and over the next one but that wouldn’t work. The board just bogged down trying that. Then by accident I just let the board go naturally where it wanted to and the noses poked into the next bump and stayed there as I followed the direction. I actually rode it longer than I probably would have on a bullet because the angle of the board kept moving forward with the nose in a down angle. As I kept doing this, I would inadvertently poke the noses into the front bump and the momentum of the bump I was riding would push me into the next bump, not over but under and through it. It was like I walked through a wall. The best part of the Hawaii Kai run is normally the first half from Hawaii Kai to Kahala and then it gets sticky and bumpy. The best part during this session was the second portion from Kahala to Waikiki. It’s a big difference when I don’t have to constantly concentrate on balancing and can focus on bumps and a proper paddle stroke.
I paddled a lot during this downwinder and still had energy left at the end. This was not normal. I had done my first downwinder on a Bullet 17 two weeks earlier in similar conditions and was completely out of energy with 20 minutes left to go. That was also because it was my first downwinder in 7 months which I took off to rehab my shoulder. That being said, paddling for 3 days straight would normally leave me super sore and force me to take a few days to recover. I still had energy left which was blowing my mind.
Since I had energy left and my son wanted to train for the upcoming Da Hui North Shore race, I did a second session that day. This is not normal for me. I ended up paddling for around an hour in choppy conditions while my boys trained on an OC-2 canoe. After 15 minutes my 8 year old laid down in the canoe and my 10 year old paddled him all over. I still had energy to continue. What was going on?
I decided to do a downwinder. I’m surprised I can paddle this many days in a row and still move.
The July 4th Da Hui Race from Sunset Beach to Waimea was a blast as usual. There was light winds and even had some small bumps. I rode the Standamaran next to my 2 boys since they did the race in an OC2. I was distracted by all the arguing they were doing in the canoe but I would catch some bumps and paddle ahead and then wait for them to catch up. It would have been interesting to paddle it full on for the race because it caught the smallest bumps and stayed on them. I think this board for the north shore is perfect. Mark Raaphorst did the longer course and passed us during the race. All I heard was laughing and then he zipped on by and was gone. Mark was flying.
This was one of the best downwind runs I’ve ever done. It’s good that I had spent some time getting the Standamaran dialed in. The board is really technical and it’s almost like discovering a new sport again. The winds were 20-28 mph and blazing for Oahu. I also caught a great incoming tide. I’m not sure why but the second half of the run was the most fun again. I caught really long connections and most were with the noses slightly under water at times. It reminds me of an expensive sports car. There are so many nuances and controls that affect performance but once they all work in unison, the result is spectacular. My overall time was the best I’ve had in a while and that was surprising since I’ve spent the last half of the year rehabbing my shoulder. This board is the way to go for anyone with shoulder issues. It just allows you to be on the water more.
If you are under 190 lbs then bigger bumps are still fairly simple for you with this board. If you are 215 lbs like I currently am, that poses an issue for larger bumps. What happens is the front iako (connector between the 2 hulls) on larger bumps drags a bit on the peak of the bump and slows you down. I figured out how to fix this. I can do what resembles a little hop and the board ends up bouncing up and then the tail gets launched into the bump. It’s pretty crazy how it does this but you take off like a rocket at that point.
Since my feet don’t really change position (because I want to stay on the steering lever), bigger bumps feel just like bombing a hill while downhill skiing. It’s challenging and exciting. I was getting to Black Point and the water was reflecting off the cliff and creating large backwash. The downhill skiing effect was in full force and I was actually catching some pretty large bumps. Then off to the left of me, just back about 20 feet I thought I saw some turtles. I thought to myself, “Those are big turtles.” Then I realized they weren’t turtles. They were 12-15′ sharks following me! I said my prayers and did my best to get out of there and not fall. This made my legs even more unstable and a few minutes later I fell off. I believe I got back on in record time because I was pretty freaked out. Luckily, I couldn’t see them anymore. That doesn’t mean they weren’t there because I’m sure they see us even if we don’t see them.
I caught a lot of small bumps all the way to the finish and felt truly blessed. I live a very blessed life.
Another epic downwinder and my best time from shore to shore that I can remember (1:22). Man I like this board!
The question a lot of people are asking me is whether or not they should buy one of these. That depends on what you’re going to use it for. I’ll list the pros and cons below.
Very stable side to side, much more than anything I’ve ridden before
Due to the stability, I can work on improving my paddle stroke technique without worrying about yawing left or right and falling
Much less torque required to keep it gliding which means less wear and tear on my shoulders
This board is significantly easier on my shoulders which means more water time and less recovery time
Catches the smallest bumps and stays with them
Easy to connect small bumps
Rough water is easier to balance in with this board
Pretty agile for a double hull board with 2 fin rudders
If you like having the latest and greatest, this is it
Good platform if you want to carry gear
Very stable when riding tandem with small kids
Harder for riders over 210 lbs in large bumps and waves
Transporting is more awkward as well as washing it off
When dropping in on larger bumps or waves it’s harder to control since you can’t step back
If you like to muscle and yank the board, this board won’t respond well to that
The board naturally tracks a straight line with very little sideways yaw…better in flats and tracks on larger bumps
Feels more like downhill skiing than surfing on larger bumps
All in all I really like this board. It’s gotten me back in the water for downwinders in mediocre conditions as well as good ones. It helps my paddle stroke and is easier on my shoulders. I think I still need more time on it to fully dial it in but the more I ride it the more interesting nuances I discover. Knowing what I know now I would definitely buy it if I didn’t have one.