Saturday, November 22, 2008

Design Discussion - The 9'3s

CB1 and I have been chatting a lot about 9'3 SUPs, in anticipation of C4s new Stub-Vector arriving next month. I thought some of the regular readers here, might enjoy some of my ramblings on the subject.

There are 3 main players in the 9'3 size. PSH, Naish, and C4. I surfed the 9'3 PSH back in Feb. It was mind blowing and ever since that day I have dreamed about the day when I could own a 9'3 and have the skill to ride it as my everyday stick. It makes anything else you surf feel like a dog.

Two issues stood in my way. I'm old, and weighed 205 lbs. Well CB1 and I have both lost weight. We each weigh in at 190 lbs now. You're options are so limited when break the 200 lb barrier.

As regular readers of this blog probably know, I've become a fan of C4 boards. Therefore I am rooting for their 9'3 to be the one. Around here C4 has a lot going for it. Their boards come complete with the best deck pads in the business. We can demo all the boards due to the excellent mid Atlantic rep, Brad Jones. The nicest shops in town stock them and give us excellent prices, so the cost to own is actually lower than PSH or Naish. With those brands you have to add $300 to the price you pay to cover shipping and deck pads. OK, now you understand my biased, on to my thoughts on the designs.

Here is what C4 says about the 9'3-

DESIGN NOTES: This high-performance short stand-up surfboard offers both radical turning radius's and "no-fail" stability to bigger surfers of intermediate or higher ability. With progressive rocker, flat bottom, firm edges, angular boxy rails, and double-barrel inverted vee panels, the C4 SUB-Vector delivers sports-car-like speed and snappy handling characteristics.

What I find most interesting about these design notes is the "no-fail" stability comment. I was asked what that means by CB1. I think they are trying to tell us it has stability that won't let you down when it gets choppy. That is when a great surfing board can FAIL and cause you to leave it sitting in the garage way more than you would like. It might even cause you to sell it.

What gives this 9'3 no-fail stability? For me, it's the resemblance to my favorite Stretch quad shortboard. My magic Stretch has a very wide tail compared to any other thruster shortboard in its class. Wider than any thruster I've ever owned (with similar mid widths and length). My magic Stretch is insane surfing off the tail. Super easy to surf and surf well. Fast as hell, just goes and goes. The wide tail is like having training wheels on a surfboard. Lightning quick snaps off the lip make you feel like a pro. I'm far from a pro, by the way. The C4 9'3 ships configured quad. I think going quad may just be a key factor in making the wide tail with parallel template work. It sure makes my Stretch work!

What do I see different in the PSH and Naish? Narrower tails with curvier templates, more like my old thruster shortboards, which I sold when I fell in love with Stretch.

I see Naish following his roots. By following his roots, I'm referring to him following the standard set by the windsurfing industry of blowing up the volume of boards marketed to the general public. This was done to make boards appeal to a wider audience. Wider audience equals more sales and more profits. That's what it's all about. Profits. No complaints with that. The Naish is the highest volume of the three.

The PSH is probably still a little too challenging to be my everyday board. I recall the tail rode low with me on it. When paddling, I had to be careful not to shift any weight to the rear, or the tail would sink. There isn't much board behind you at my weight. That may be why some of the heavy guys surfing this board in Hawaii prefer to use it when waves have some juice. While my light weight friend who owns one, uses it as his one board quiver.

Jacky and Brad both ride 9'0 C4s are one board quivers. Lets hope the 9'3 C4 turns out the same for guys my weight. Fingers crossed until mine arrives sometime in mid December.

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