Your SUP Board Stability

How to Use Stability Ratings to Pick the Right Stand Up Paddle Board

If you were to pursue the new 2014 boards offered by Stand on Liquid, you would be offered a wide variety of styles, designs, and of course, different  paddle boards based on your skill and where you plan on SUPing. Let’s consider just two: the Stand on Liquid Native 12’6” (pictured to the right) and Stand on Liquid Chelan 12’. One has an SOL stability rating of 12; the other 14. So what’s the difference and what the heck is stability on paddle board anyway?

SOL Native SUP

SOL’s Native SUP Board is not only a reflection of the Pacific Northwest’s Native American roots, it is built for performance and stability.

Over the last several months, we have discussed a wide variety of topics surround your stand up paddle boarding experience. Without a doubt, I have ventured into territory that some of may have known something about while other times you may have have wondered why you needed to know it all. This understandable if you base the whole concept of SUP boarding on the freewheeling style in which the sport was born. Stand up paddle boarding was not designed to have constraints. You can go anywhere (there is water) and do almost anything once you get there (white water, open ocean, surf, flat water, and even fishing). But even as this sport is growing, it is maturing and that process often involves making it easier to get more people on the right board.

We have discussed some of the technical terms surrounding the use of these boards without getting too technical. Today’s post is one of those instances. Today we will discuss stability, what it means, and how companies like Stand On Liquid use a formulation all their own to match the right board to the right person.

The term stability was first developed in surfing. Simply, it suggests that a surf board rated with the number 1 will support a 150 lb person without any movement on the board. This deviates from the notion that the wider the board, the better the stability. In fact, width plays only a small part in the actual stability of the board. In surfing, that number is decreased as the board, with the same weight on it begins to move. The calculation is much more complicated and eventually considers the motion as contributing to the stability of the board, gained through the grab of the fins and rail (dynamic stability). This might suggest a surf board that does all of that when in motion, might have a fractional rating of 0.25. I know, it’s confusing.

But board sellers claim they use this information for every successive sale they make. And from this information, they can make sure the paddleboard you buy is well-suited for how you intend on using it and your skill level. But good retailers, and I’m suggesting the big box retailers cannot do this, will take this information a bit further.

SUP stability ratings move higher when the performance of the board is closely correlated with the skill of the paddler. Because stability is a measurement of surface area and volume, the bigger weight-wise you are, the higher the stability rating needed for optimum performance.

The stability also will consider your skill, keeping in mind that a rating of one essentially has you standing, without motion on calm water. The higher the rating suggests that the board will be more stable with a larger body and little to no motion. The two boards mentioned above have similar stability ratings, suggesting a board for beginner to intermediate level SUPers.

So what does stability mean? I asked the folks at Stand on Liquid for their formulation for stability and they explained that rather than use a single measurement, they use four. More than just being able to stand on the board without issue (something any lightweight body could probably do) and how the width plays into the equation, they add in the length and thickness of the board as well.

For instance, a board with a rating of 8, would not be suitable for an inexperienced SUPer due in part to the board’s narrowness. A board with a rating of twelve or higher would be in most instances. But the key to SOL’s stability rating is the customization feature, a methodology unique to them that matches every board perfectly to the person on it.

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