Best Racing Paddle Board Guide: Top SUPs For Beginners & Pros

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So you’ve seen a racing paddle board and want to start racing? Great idea! It’s a fun sport with friendly, active people who love to help newcomers. Plus, it’s a great way to stay fit at any age.

That’s why I’m really excited to share this guide on the best racing paddle board picks for beginners all the way to pros, along with why this is such a nice sport.

But here’s the summary in a nutshell.

best racing paddle board

“In my opinion, the best racing paddle board for someone that is brand new to the sport would have to be the Bluefin Sprint Carbon. Not only is it high quality, quick on the water and fun to use…But it also comes at a nice price compared to other options on the market. I love this sup and I would recommend it to anyone.

Rating

But first, before I give you the recommendations, let’s talk about what you’re actually looking for with a racing paddle board.

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What To Look For In A Racing Paddle Board

In the most basic terms – a racing paddle board should be long and thin so that it cuts through the water and allows you to move at speed. They should also have a rocker (the tip should be raised) so that you can move over choppy conditions.

You can see the differences above between short, medium and long paddle boards.

Here are some more factors to consider when considering a racing paddle board:

  1. Length and Width: Racing boards are usually longer and narrower than regular boards. This makes them faster but also less stable. If you’re just starting out, you might want a board that’s a bit wider for better balance.

  2. Weight: Lighter boards are easier to carry and paddle faster. But lighter boards can also be more expensive. Think about how much you’re willing to spend and how often you’ll be carrying your board.

  3. Material: Most racing paddle boards are made from high-quality materials like carbon fiber or fiberglass. These materials are strong and light, which helps with speed and handling.

  4. Shape: Look for a board with a streamlined shape. A pointed nose and a tapered tail help the board cut through the water smoothly, reducing drag and making it faster.

  5. Fin Setup: Fins help with stability and control. Some boards come with a single large fin, while others have multiple smaller fins. You can experiment to see what works best for you, but make sure the fins are sturdy and easy to adjust.

  6. Volume: The volume of the board affects how buoyant it is. Higher volume boards can support more weight, which can be good if you’re a heavier paddler or if you want to carry gear with you.

  7. Brand and Reviews: Stick with well-known brands that have good reputations. Read reviews from other racers to see what they like and dislike about different boards. This can give you a better idea of what to expect.

Racing Paddle Board Sizing

Different sizes of paddle boards

Choosing the right size for your racing paddle board is really important. The size of the board affects your speed, stability, and overall performance. Here’s a simple guide to help you find the perfect size:

Length: Racing paddle boards are usually longer than regular boards. A longer board helps you glide faster and more efficiently. Most racing boards are between 12’6″ and 14′ long. If you’re just starting, a 12’6″ board might be easier to handle. As you get more experienced, you might want to move up to a 14′ board for more speed.

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Width: Width plays a big role in stability. Racing boards are narrower than regular paddle boards, usually between 24″ and 28″ wide. Narrower boards are faster but can be less stable. If you’re a beginner, look for a board on the wider end of this range to help with balance. As you gain confidence, you can try narrower boards for more speed.

Thickness: Most racing paddle boards are around 6″ thick. This thickness provides a good balance between buoyancy and stability, helping you stay above the water while maintaining speed.

Volume: The volume of the board, measured in liters, affects how buoyant it is. Higher volume boards can support more weight, which can be good if you’re heavier or carrying gear. Look for a volume that matches your weight and paddling style. Generally, more volume means more stability, but too much can make the board harder to handle.

Finding the Right Fit:

Beginners:Look for a board around 12’6″ long and 28″ wide. This will give you a good balance of speed and stability.
Intermediate Paddlers:A 12’6″ to 14′ board with a width of 26″ to 28″ can offer more speed while still being manageable.
Advanced Racers:Go for a 14′ board with a width of 24″ to 26″. These boards are fast and agile, perfect for serious racing.

So with that being said, here are some recommendations for you to look into:

Best Racing Paddle Board Options: From Beginner To Pro

Here are the paddle boards that I will be recommending:

CategoryRacing Paddle Board
Best Beginner Racing Paddle BoardBluefin Sprint Carbon
Best Budget Racing Paddle BoardWowsea Swift S2
Best Advanced Racing Paddle BoardBark Paddle Boards

Let’s get into them.

#1: Bluefin Sprint Carbon (Best Beginner Racing Paddle Board)

Bluefin Sprint Carbon

Where To Buy: Amazon

Specs & Features:
– Dimensions of 14′ x 30″ x 6″

– Weight of 25.5 lbs

– Max Weight of 416 lbs

– 5 year warranty

– Material: Heavy Duty Double-Layer PVC

– Best Suited For: Touring And Racing For One Person

Overall Thoughts:

Rating

Overall, I really like the Bluefin SUP 14′ Sprint Carbon Stand Up Paddle Board. It tracks straight on the water, so I don’t have to keep adjusting my direction, and it picks up speed quickly and holds it well. The accessories are a nice touch, especially the lightweight carbon fiber paddle, which makes a big difference.

The board feels stable, thanks to the carbon stiffening rails, and it’s competitively priced compared to other racing paddle boards. However, it is pretty heavy because of its size, and I wish it had a paddle holder on the side for when I want to go prone. Overall, it’s a great board for anyone starting in racing.

PROSCONS
– This board tracks really straight on the water so you don’t need to constantly adjust your direction.

– It quickly picks up speed and most importantly holds it.

– The accessories are great – I love that they included the lightweight carbon fiber paddle.

– It’s also pretty stable due to the carbon stiffening rails.

– Competitive price compared to other racing paddle board options.
– The board is pretty heavy because of the large size.

– I would have loved to see them attach a paddle holder on the side of the board to attach your paddle when you want to use your hands and go prone.

Other Details:

The Bluefin SUP 14′ Sprint Carbon Stand Up Paddle Board Kit is ideal for beginners looking to start racing. This board is incredibly stiff and stable, thanks to its carbon stiffening rails and dual inflation chambers, giving you the confidence to improve your skills.

It features a Flex Reduction System using carbon fiber for strength and flexibility. The Air Duo inflation system adds extra rigidity and safety, with a central loop that keeps the board floating even if the main chamber is damaged. The kit includes a lightweight, two-piece carbon fiber paddle that floats and a US Box fin design for easy, tool-free fin attachment.

Designed for touring, the Sprint paddleboard glides smoothly through waves and flat water. Its streamlined profile and double-layer side rails enhance speed and stability. The pointed hull and narrow shape help with straight-line tracking, so you cover more distance with each stroke.

It also has a non-slip deck pad for comfort, a kick pad for quick turns, and ample storage with cargo nets and D-rings. Whether for short trips or long-distance adventures, the Sprint is the best racing paddle board for beginners seeking reliable performance.

See also  15 Pro Tips to Make Your First Time Paddleboarding a Great Experience

What’s In The Box:

The set includes:

  • Sprint 14′ Racing Paddle Board
  • Swift Pro Single Chamber Pump
  • Core Backpack
  • 3pc Fibreglass Paddle: Blade, Handle, Shaft
  • 1 Large Smartlock Fin, 2 Small Smartlock Fins
  • Ankle Leash
  • Waterproof Phone Case
  • Repair Kit
Check Best Price ➡️ Amazon

#2: Wowsea Swift S2 (Best Budget Racing Paddle Board)

Where To Buy: Amazon

Specs & Features:
– Dimensions of 14′ x 28″ x 6″

– Weight of 28 lbs

– Max Weight of 260 lbs

– 2 year warranty

– Material: Heavy Duty Double-Layer PVC

– Best Suited For: Touring And Racing For One Person

Overall Thoughts:

Rating

Overall, I’m really pleased with the Swift S2 Inflatable Paddle Board. It’s a great deal for a racing paddle board, offering high quality and durability. On the water, it’s pretty fast and picks up speed quickly, and it looks good too. I appreciate its good tracking, which means it stays in a straight line with minimal effort.

However, the paddle is quite heavy and doesn’t float, which is a bit inconvenient. Also, it’s a bit more wobbly than the Bluefin Sprint due to its thinner width. Despite these minor issues, it’s a solid choice for beginners looking to get into racing without spending too much.

PROSCONS
– Great price for a nice racing paddle board.

– The quality is high – it’s solid and very durable.

– Pretty fast on the water and you can pick up speed really quickly.

– Looks nice on the water

– It has good tracking and will move in a straight line with minimal correction
– The paddle is quite heavy and doesn’t float. Consider getting a better one.

– It is a bit more wobbly than the Bluefin Sprint because of its thinner width.

Other Details:

The Swift S2 Inflatable Paddle Board is a fantastic budget option for beginners interested in racing. Named after the swift bird, known for its speed, this board is designed to help you paddle quickly and efficiently. It has several features that make it stable and easy to handle, including a center fin for better tracking, a flat bottom for stability and less resistance, and a thick, military-grade PVC construction for added sturdiness.

The EVA deck pad provides good traction and cushioning for your feet, reducing fatigue during long paddles. The board also has adjustable bungee straps for easy storage of your belongings and a front camera mount to capture all the excitement of your races. The race handles and grab handles are designed for comfort and ease of use, making it simple to transport your board.

Overall, the Swift S2 is a great choice for those looking to get into racing without destroying their budget. It’s stable, fast, and packed with features that make it a pleasure to use on the water.

What’s In The Box:

The set includes:

  • Wowsea Swift S2 Racing Paddle Board
  • Removable Center Fin (US Box)
  • Coiled Ankle Leash
  • Repair Kit
  • Dual-Gauge Hand Pump
  • Backpack Bag
  • Gauge Spare part
  • 10L Waterproof Bag
  • 3-Piece Adjustable Blended Paddle
Check Best Price ➡️ Amazon

Bark Paddle Board (Best Advanced Racing Paddle Board)

racing paddle board with a man on it in the water

If you’re an advanced paddler, you should definitely consider a Bark racing paddle board. I’ve used one, and it’s clear why more races have been won on Bark boards than any other brand. Joe Bark, the designer, has been perfecting these boards since 1983. Each one is hand-crafted and tested in Southern California, drawing from Joe’s extensive experience and passion for the ocean.

The boards are incredibly fast and stable, making them perfect for serious racers. Riding a Bark board, you can feel the difference. The quality and performance are unmatched. Whether you’re competing in a race or just pushing your limits, a Bark paddle board will give you the edge you need. Plus, there’s something special about knowing you’re riding a board designed by someone who lives and breathes the ocean every day.

I will not be recommending any particular board here because its better to get personalized advice through the company. And if you’re going to go this route then its worth getting a custom board made.

One quick hint though:

Consider going to the Bark Used Board Marketplace and seeing if you can get a deal there. You can find really nice used racing paddle boards for sale there.

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used racing paddle boards for sale

Benefits Of Racing On A SUP

There are many benefits to getting a racing paddle board, here are just a few:

Great WorkoutPaddle board racing provides a full-body workout, strengthening your core, arms, legs, and back. The continuous paddling motion and balancing on the board help tone muscles and improve cardiovascular health.
Improves Balance and Coordination:Navigating different water conditions requires good balance and coordination. Racing helps you develop these skills, which can also benefit you in other sports and daily activities.
Fun and Exciting:Racing adds an element of excitement and adventure to paddle boarding. The thrill of competition and the challenge of pushing your limits make it a fun and engaging activity.
Social Activity:Racing events are great opportunities to meet other paddlers and make new friends. Sharing tips, stories, and experiences with other people makes the sport more fun.
Travel Opportunities:Many paddle board races are held in picturesque locations, giving you the chance to travel and explore new places. It’s a wonderful way to combine your love for the sport with a bit of adventure.

How To Get Started With Paddle Board Racing

Here is a really nice YouTube series that I found (make with Joe Bark’s son Jack) that I think is well worth watching if you want to find out more about technique.

The Basics

Getting Started

Learning How To Knee Paddle

If you’re not into watching videos then here is a brief overview of how to get started:

Get on the Board: Place your board in the water and lie face down on it. Your chest should be near the front of the board, and your feet should be near the back.

Position Your Hands: Place your hands flat on the board near the sides, slightly below your shoulders.

Paddle with Your Arms: Use a freestyle swimming motion with your arms. Extend one arm forward, dip your hand in the water, and pull back alongside the board. Alternate arms smoothly.

Keep Your Legs Together: Let your legs trail behind you, keeping them close together.

Keep Your Head Up: Look forward to maintain balance and see where you’re going. This will help you stay streamlined.

Adjust Your Position: Move slightly forward or backward on the board to find the right balance. The nose should not dip too much, and the tail should stay afloat.

Turning: To turn, paddle more on one side of the board. For sharper turns, you can use a wider sweeping stroke with your arm.

Maintain a Steady Rhythm: Practice consistent paddling to improve your speed and efficiency.

Rest and Stop: When you need to stop or rest, simply stop paddling and let the board glide to a stop. You can also sit up or kneel on the board for a break if needed.

Safety First: Always wear a leash and a life jacket, especially if you’re new to prone paddle boarding or paddling in open water.

How To Find Paddle Board Racing Events & Competitions

Paddle board racing is a global sport with events happening all around the world. Here are some of the major competitions you might want to check out:

racing paddle board sups on the water with men lining up to race

The image above is from the Pacific Paddle Games

  1. Carolina Cup: Held in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, USA, this event is one of the biggest paddle board races in the world, attracting top paddlers from everywhere.
  2. Molokai 2 Oahu Paddleboard World Championships: This legendary race in Hawaii covers a 32-mile stretch from Molokai to Oahu. It’s a challenging race that tests even the best paddlers.
  3. Pacific Paddle Games: Taking place in Dana Point, California, USA, this event is known for its exciting competition and large gathering of paddling enthusiasts.
  4. Gorge Downwind Championships: Located in Hood River, Oregon, USA, this race is famous for its strong winds and beautiful scenery along the Columbia River Gorge.
  5. Sydney Harbour Challenge: This Australian event in Sydney Harbour offers stunning views of the iconic Opera House and Harbour Bridge, making it a popular race for paddlers.

To find more events and competitions, you can visit websites like:

  • PaddleGuru (paddleguru.com): This site lists paddle board races and events around the world. You can search by location and date to find something that fits your schedule.
  • SUP Racer (supracer.com): A great resource for news, event listings, and results from paddle board races globally.
  • International Surfing Association (ISA) (isasurf.org): They have a section dedicated to SUP and paddleboard events, including world championships and regional competitions.

Whether you’re looking to compete or just watch some of the best paddlers in action, these events offer plenty of excitement and community spirit.

Conclusion:

Getting into paddle board racing is a fantastic idea, whether you’re a beginner or a pro. It’s a fun sport with a great community and offers a great workout. From the Bluefin Sprint Carbon, perfect for beginners, to the advanced Bark Paddle Boards, there’s a racing SUP out there for everyone.

3 men racing on paddle boards

Remember to consider the key factors when choosing your board, like length, width, material, and shape. Check out the major racing events to see the sport in action and maybe even compete one day.

Whether you’re looking to challenge yourself, stay fit, or just enjoy being out on the water, paddle board racing has something to offer. Grab a board, get out there, and start paddling! Happy racing!

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FAQs

What is a racing SUP?

A racing SUP (Stand Up Paddleboard) is a type of paddle board designed specifically for speed and performance. These boards are usually longer and narrower than regular SUPs, helping them cut through the water more efficiently. They’re great for racing and covering long distances quickly.

What makes a paddle board faster?

Several factors make a paddle board faster:

  • Length and Width: Longer and narrower boards are faster because they reduce drag.
  • Shape: A pointed nose and streamlined shape help the board glide smoothly.
  • Weight: Lighter boards are easier to paddle quickly.
  • Material: High-quality materials like carbon fiber are both strong and light, enhancing speed.

Are SUPs faster than kayaks?

In general, kayaks are faster than SUPs because they sit lower in the water and have less wind resistance. However, racing SUPs can still achieve impressive speeds, especially with a skilled paddler.

Where to stand on a racing paddle board?

When racing, stand in the middle of the board. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart, and your weight should be evenly distributed. This position helps you maintain balance and control while paddling efficiently.

How do I increase my SUP speed?

To increase your SUP speed:

  • Improve Your Technique: Focus on using your core muscles and maintaining a steady, powerful stroke.
  • Practice Balance: A stable stance allows for more effective paddling.
  • Use the Right Equipment: Lighter, streamlined boards and high-quality paddles can make a big difference.
  • Build Strength and Endurance: Regular training can help you paddle faster and longer.

How fast can I paddle board?

The speed of a paddle board can vary depending on the paddler’s skill and the board’s design. On average, recreational paddlers can go around 3-4 miles per hour. Experienced racers on a racing SUP can achieve speeds of 7-8 miles per hour or more, especially in competitive conditions.

racing paddle board review
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Jason Watson

My initial goal was to document my paddleboarding experiences with friends and family, but that has evolved into a commitment to share this sport with as many people as possible because of the health benefits & peace of mind it has given me. This sport is not only a great way to see the world, but it also helps us come closer to ourselves. Information gives us strength!


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