Welcome to the annual Godfather Test Center Flat Water SUP test.
The winner is… (read on!)
The Stand Up Paddleboard Candidates
The test center had four flatwater boards to test and one downwind/chop board to test. The flatwater boards were: two custom Bark 14’s, a Bark Dominator and a Focus SUP Hawaii. The downwind/chop board was a 2013 Starboard Allstar. We didn’t have a Starboard Sprint (on order), their flatwater racer, so we threw in the All Star for giggles; we wanted to test our new favorite downwind/chop board, against flatwater boards because we were curious how it would fare. Our goal was to add to the debate of what the all around best board for our locale is.
- 2011 Bark Custom (Dominator Shell) 14
- 2012 Bark Custom (Dominator Shell) 14
- 2012 Focus Cali 14
- 2011 Bark Dominator 14
- 2013 Starboard All Star
The team was comprised of three paddlers; one elite, and two advance paddlers. Our scribe and timekeeper was an injured elite paddler on the sidelines.
The heights and weights for each paddler were as follows:
- Elite Paddler 5’ – 8”, 148 lb.
- Advanced Paddler 6’, 190 lb.
- Advanced Paddler 6’, 179 lb.
The Weather and Water Conditions
- 2011 Bark Custom (Dominator Shell), 13 ft 11 5/8″ long by 26 3/4″ wide, 27.6 lbs.
- 2012 Bark Custom (Dominator Shell), 14 ‘ by 25 7/8″ , 24.8 lbs.
- 2012 Focus Cali, 14′ 3/4″ by 27″, 29 lbs.
- 2011 Bark Dominator, 14′ by 27 7/8″, 27 lbs.
- 2013 Starboard All Star, 14′ by 24 7/8″, 26.4 lbs.
Paddlers were timed one at a time. The sequence of timing was as follows:
Timing started when the first paddler passed the first buoy and stopped after passing the second buoy. The process was followed with the next two paddlers. At any one time, two paddlers were resting for their turn.
The same sequence occurred for going the opposite direction.
When the cycle of going back and forth between buoys was finished, paddlers rotated to another board.
One paddler had a Speed Puck to capture his maximum speed.
Paddlers warmed up and paddled at least ¼ of a mile prior to the tests. During the test, all paddled at 85 to 90% strength. There was sufficient break time between paddles to recoup their strength.
Ok – now for the review of each board and results.
Figures 1 – 2 provide details on the average speed of each board, and the average speed of each paddler by board.
2011 Bark Dominator – Average speed 6.06 mph
This board has been the standard race board for the past couple years. It is stable and versatile in a lot of conditions. However, this design is starting to show it’s age. It was the slowest board in the test and the difference between it and the fastest board was nearly 0.2 mph. All paddler’s speeds had the same experience except for the light weight paddler who had one fast time run that was second fastest. Overall, the Dominator is an excellent board for the quiver. For all out flat water racing, other boards are faster but its stability and ease of paddling make it a great choice for most of the SUP population. The early production runs are a little flexible and have been know to crack but this issue has been resolved in later 2011 models and on.
2012 Focus Cali – Average speed 6.11 mph
All paddlers found this board to be extremely stable, even more so than the Dominator. It is a very stiff board and found to be very versatile. It downwinds well and is a very good all around board. The difference in speed between the Dominator and the Focus are minimal and can be considered equal. The 2013 carbon version wasn’t available during this test but may appear in an upcoming review.
2011 Bark Custom (Dominator Shell) – Average speed 6.18 mph
This board has been the reining champ in the Seattle area in 2012. It is a very stiff and lively board and responds well in most conditions. For paddlers below 190 lb., it is a fairly stable board and tracks and accelerates quickly. During the test it felt fast and had the traditional Bark feel. The deck is very similar to the Dominator and with the added stiffness no flexing was noticeable. It was rated as the third fastest board of the bunch. For non-perfect flat conditions, it may rate higher due to its stability with respect to the narrow custom Bark. Very fun and fast board which still has the capability of placing in the top circle.
2013 Starboard All Star – Average Speed 6.19 mph
This is a new board in the Starboard line of SUPs. The Starboard Allstar replaces the 2012 Starboard Coast Runner as their downwind board. Everything has changed on it from the rocker to the volume/shape of the nose. What is impressive about this board is its capability of performing so well as a flat-water SUP. The board tested was a 25-inch version that is surprisingly stable for its width. The stability was very similar to the 2011 custom Bark but with a secondary stability aspect that makes it more stable than a typical 25-inch board. The deck of the board is almost all the way to the water line, which is a contributing factor for the stability. Some paddlers felt confined with this configuration since it prevents outboard foot movement.
2012 Bark Custom (Dominator shell)– Average Speed 6.26 mph
The 2012 Custom 14 Bark was clearly the fastest board in the test. It was the lightest board and second narrowest; it is a carbon shelled, hollow, one-paint-coat board. The stability of the board was the most challenging, which requires more time to get use to the board. The reaction time was quick as well. For long races with little chop or waves, this board will pull out a long lead compared to the other boards with equal paddlers. Very impressive but challenging.
All the boards tested are very capable boards. Depending upon the skill and the type of paddling, some of the boards are better than others in particular conditions. The fastest for completely flat water was the 2012 Custom Bark. Each paddler thought the board was very fast but the two larger paddlers found it to be unstable compared to the other four boards. More time would have to be spent on it to get use to it in less then ideal conditions.
The 2011 Custom Bark, Bark Dominator and Focus SUP Hawaii are all great boards. The 2011 Custom Bark was a fast and still very competitive in advance level races, yet still be a great touring board. The Bark Dominator and Focus though slower had great stability and versatility to meet many levels of paddlers needs. It was also found that for riders above 190 lb. the boards tested all become fairly close in speed due the volume/weight of the rider.
The surprise board of the group was the Starboard Allstar. It was amazingly stable for the width of the board and almost as fast as the 2012 Bark. One of the Godfather test paddlers also took it on a downwinder a day prior to the flat-water test and found it may replace the 2012 Naish Glide carbon as the ultimate 14′ downwind board. The versatility is amazing and if you are looking for a fast race board or a downwinder, this new Starboard should be considered.
The Godfather Test Center will be performing further tests in the near future. Additional conditions will also be provided from chop, side chop and downwinding conditions.
Note: The Godfather Test Center has one goal: MORE FUN!!!
We created this report with intent and energy, but obviously it’s findings are not comprehensive. We had fun doing it, and we hope you have fun using these boards. We consider all of these boards “top notch”; we only test and use equipment we love. If anything we have written offends your company, please let us know. The Godfather Test Center is not sponsored by any board or paddle company. The written content is by the Godfather who takes part in the testing of the boards.