Jacky and I did a 4 mile ocean downwinder today with the Surftech Bark 14 footer. The board is very nice. It gets on a plane easy, connecting runners with ease. Stability is nice. I'd rate it nicer than the Boardworks Vortice. Not to be confused with the hollow, very fast, XP Vortice. But it should be nicer, the design is a full year newer.
I have been studying board designs and where they are going. Just in case I decide to shape new race boards this Winter. I'm willing to buy a production board, should I find one that blows my mind. This Bark was nice, and had one feature I found superior to my board, but the other performance features were about the same, just different.
The feature that impressed me was the template. The width/volume is biased toward the front. I think this promotes early planing and reduces pearling. I could feel that extra meat up front really help when the nose drops and the tail lifts, and you know it's time to paddle and catch that runner. The more pointy nose, balanced templates (F-14, Naish 14 footer, and my home built board) can't ride the nose as hard, making powering onto a plane more tricky skill wise.
What does it all mean? IF I ever build one myself again, it will have this style template. If any of my buds want to join us downwinding, I'd tell them to buy the Bark. For now, it's the best of the production 14s available on the east coast.
One final thought. If you haven't tried the Elite Racer from Quickblade, you must! Jacky was using this paddle. When we swapped paddles, the difference was amazing. The weightless Elite Racer allows you to maintain an insanely fast paddle cadence. Weight matters big time for racing strokes.
Foote with width/volume up front. I like it!
F-14 without width/volume up front. A balanced template.
Naish 14 without width/volume up front. But I like the tail design!
Bark with width/volume up front. I like it!
5 hours ago