Taking the next step in enjoying stand up paddle boarding means it might be time to consider a touring or race shape board. These boards may look similar but they each have some big differences and features that make each shape unique. The benefit of a touring or race style board really comes from the displacement hull (aka the pointed nose). This shape allows the board to slice through the water versus the traditional surf / sup style boards that glide on top of the water.
The big difference between touring and race boards is mainly the width. Touring boards will be a little wider and better for cruising and long distance journeys and the race boards will be much more narrow and usually made with premium, lightweight materials like carbon fiber.
Now that you know a little more about why you might want to try one of these boards, let’s jump into some of our top picks for the summer 2016 season!
Touring SUP Boards
Starboard Pocket Touring 9’6
Kicking off our list is a one of a kind board, the Starboard Pocket Touring stand up paddleboard. Most touring style boards are over 11 feet long, and many of them are over 12 feet long. The Pocket Touring 9’6 gives you all the power of a true touring board, but in a much more manageable size. This unique shape still features a strong displacement hull, a recessed deck area and slimmed down tail for minimal drag. The 9’6 has a 29.5″ width and a 7″ thick profile making this tiny board super stable and perfect for race training or long distance paddles. Tie downs at the nose and tail give you added space for gear on longer paddles and 4 additional FCS plugs on top of the board gives you a ton of options for mounting your Go Pro. If you are a lighter weight rider (under 170 lbs) looking for high performance board in a compact shape, the Starboard Pocket Touring board is the way to go. Also, available in 10’6 for riders 185 lbs and under.
- Traditional touring shape in a compact size
- Fast shape yet still highly stable
- Lightweight wood construction
Starboard Elite Touring 12’6
When it comes to touring boards in the Starboard lineup, there is none better than the Elite Touring 12’6 Stand Up Paddleboard. This spectacular board blends a race-ready profile with high stability and low weight, making it one of the most sought after boards in the line. With a powerful displacement hull, recessed deck area and weighing in at just 30 lbs, this versatile cruiser is stable enough for a beginner but can also make a name for itself in the recreational race circuit. With a 31.5″ width and 6.5″ thickness, the Elite Touring board offers the perfect blend of a slightly more narrow profile while still having a high overall stability.When it comes to technology, the wood sandwich construction tops our list but if you are watching your pocket book, the Starshot construction is also a great way to go. Whether you prefer a nice 5 mile sunrise paddle with your friends or want to ease into the race world, the Elite Touring board can get the job done.
- Sleek, fast design that can also work in the race scene
- Comfortable, stable footing area for ease of balance
- Tons of deck storage for longer distance journeys
Naish Glide Touring 11’6
One of our favorite boards on this list is by far the Naish Glide Touring 11’6 Stand Up Paddleboard. The Glide line from Naish is packed with incredible touring and race style boards but we love the compact size and versatility of the 11’6. Possibly one of the best all-condition boards on this list, the Glide is the perfect cruiser for the entire family. Stable and sturdy enough for a beginner to balance on yet still built with a strong hull and fluid shape, making it an absolute breeze to pick up speed on this board. The super flat footing area adds a few more points in the stability department while the narrowed out tail exits the water quickly for less drag and quicker turns. Gear tie downs are optional at the nose, and the wood sandwich construction keeps this board super light weight (under 28 lbs to be exact). Whether you are a beginner paddler looking for an excellent investment for your first board, or an experienced paddler that is ready to start tackling some long distance treks, the Naish Glide Touring 11’6 is a fantastic option.
- Wide, highly stable body
- Pronounced, pointed nose that slices thru the water
- Extremely lightweight despite the size
Red Paddle Co Explorer 12’6
You know there will be at least a couple inflatables on this list and the Red Paddle Co Explorer 12’6 Stand Up Paddleboard is definitely not getting passed up. For high performance in a easy-to-store construction, the Explorer is a perfect option. If you are not familiar with Red, they are the premier inflatable stand up paddle board company. While most brands top out at 16-18psi, the Red boards can inflate up to 25psi! When fully inflated it’s truly hard to tell that you are actually paddling an inflatable board. The pronounced nose and narrow profile on this 12’6 x 32″ board allow you to glide quickly and smoothly thru the water, making the Explorer ideal for longer treks or even recreational race training. Additional, optional runner fins at the nose and tail reduce drifting and tie downs at the nose give you a place to stash your gear on longer treks. Handles on each side, nose and tail make it easy to climb on to your board from the water or simply make carrying it easier with all the additional grab points. If you want high quality, high performance in a storage and travel friendly construction, we recommend the Red Paddle Co Explorer.
- Extreme durability thanks to the inflatable construction
- Convenient features like deck storage additional handles
- Fast and comfortable, even on longer adventures
Race SUP Boards
Starboard All Star 12’6
The name says it all. The Starboard All Star 12’6″ Stand Up Paddleboard is here to win. Both newbie racers and seasoned vets will agree that the progressive shape and top notch construction give you all the ingredients you need to start taking home the trophies. There is a laundry list of tech features so we will just jump right in. The brand new design for this year combined the All Star rail stability with the triple concave bottom of the 2015 Race board making this board a beast in flat water conditions! Added volume in the nose and refined overall volume distribution makes the All Star super fast in downwind conditions while the bottom shape offers speed from the center channel and stability in both surf and downwind conditions. If you are looking for extra reassurance, know that Starboard had 25 different prototypes before finalizing the design on this race board. Pros like Mat Rauzier, Svein Rasmussen and Connor Baxter aided in the design process to make sure the finished product would be approved by even the top paddlers in the race game. Finally, Starboard’s highest end Carbon Sandwich construction reduces weight and adds unparalleled rigidity, which is another reason this board is topping off our list. When you are ready to really make the jump into the SUP race world, this could be the perfect board to get you where you want to be.
- Lightest weight technology that Starboard offers
- Extremely recessed deck area for high stability
- Narrowed out tail for zero drag
Naish Javelin X26 12’6, 14’0
You can’t talk about legit SUP race boards without mentioning the Naish Javelin Stand Up Paddleboard. Available in 2 different widths and 2 different sizes, there is a perfect option for every type of elite race paddler. With a state-of-the-art rocker profile and redesigned deck and bottom shape, the rider gets unmatched acceleration, speed and agility on this narrow, mean race machine. The carbon construction offers minimal weight and ultimate stiffness while the recessed stance area lowers the riders center of gravity for added stability without adding actual width to the board. The center double-concave body maximizes directional stability while increased tail volume optimizes board positioning for precise buoy turns and quick recoveries. Finally, the advanced dihedral nose shape slices the water and sends the water outward instead of upward onto the deck area for, once again, more power and overall speed. For the larger riders, the 28″ width is a great choice but if you really want to go for it and shave some weight off the board, the 26″ width is the way to go.
- The best of the best in Naish construction
- Extremely sleek, fast design
- Built for expert level racing
Naish Glide X30 12’6
For the paddler looking to get into racing that wants to buy a serious board, but still wants to have the option for more casual touring, the Naish Glide X30 12’6 Stand Up Paddleboard is an amazing option. The Glide collection is primarily touring boards but the 30″ width and more sleek design on this particular model is perfect for recreational and downwind racing. Naish recently redeveloped the tail rocker and bottom shape to easily adapt to both flat water and open ocean conditions while the pronounced V nose drives the board through any conditions. This makes the Glide X30 easy to paddle and super powerful. The flat deck area gives paddlers a highly stable platform for a sturdy, balanced feel and the over 7″ width adds to that stability which is why this board is so perfect for entry-level recreational racers. If you are looking for the perfect hybrid touring / race board that is easy to paddle but can still win races, the Naish Glide X is exactly what you are looking for.
- Perfect for first time racers
- Versatile shape that is also perfect for every day paddling
- Lightweight construction
Red Paddle Co Race Elite 14’0
An inflatable race board? You heard right. When it comes to making top of the line inflatables, Red Paddle Co takes the cake. That’s how the Race Elite 14’0 Stand Up Paddleboard made it onto this list. Red was already ahead of the game and they made more improvements for the 2016 season, making their boards more rigid than ever. With the addition of their new MSL Fusion technology, they are able to fuse a second layer of hard-wearing polymer to the drop stitch core which removes the potential of hand-gluing errors. This process shaves off an additional 2g in weight and also adds more rigidity to the overall feel of the board. Other features include the super sleek 26″ width, a defined nose with double nose runner fins to keep you tracking perfectly straight and a US fin box system at the tail so you can add the race fin of your choice (or use the one that is included with the board). If you like the idea of being able to travel easily with your board for out-of-state races, then an inflatable race board may be the right choice for you.
- Top of the line when it comes to inflatable race boards
- Sleek, narrow design that is very fast in the water
- Optional nose fin for tracking as straight as possible.
We certainly hope you found this list useful and points you in the right direction when it comes to your next racing, touring or all-around board search.