The Difference Between SUP & Surf Boards

I’ve been shaping surf boards for a long time, however recently I’ve gotten into shaping stand up paddle boards. I often get asked, as a surf board shaper what’s the difference between SUP Surf boards and regular surf boards?

The most obvious difference between a stand up paddle and surf board is that you use a paddle for SUP surfing. This has huge implications on how the board is built. Of course it also affects how we ride the wave. Just like a short board rides in a different manner than a long board so too does a stand up paddle board.

Who Is The Board For?

Before you even think about starting to build a board you need to ask yourself who am I building this for? Is this for a short female? Is it for a big dude? A pro or is it a complete beginner to the sport? Of course when you’re looking to buy a board there is always the question of price. For me that’s a none issue, I’ve been making boards out of high end material since I started and I don’t plan on ever stopping. Don’t get me wrong, there is a place and a need for cheaper boards but obviously those boards aren’t going to be hand crafted. They’re probably going to be built in some sweat shop in Asia and churned out by the hundreds. John Wesley boards are hand built and each has it’s own unique flavour and flare.

The Volume

By definition, stand up paddle boards are generally going to have a lot more volume than a surf board. Because you paddle to catch a wave you need to have a more solid base. A solid base means more volume. More volume usually means thicker (sometimes), longer (almost always) and wider (also almost always). The upside to having more volume is catching waves can be easier. With surfing your timing needs to be epic, you can’t move very quickly lying on your board compared to the speed you can move with when you’re upright with a big ass paddle.

The Shape

Because the board is so much bigger it changes how the board is shaped. You simply can’t expect to create an 9′ paddle board in the same way that you build a 7′ surf board. It’s unrealistic. Surf boards can be narrower and quicker, where as paddle boards are wider and bulkier (and also more stable). We discussed how it’s easier to catch a wave, it’s also harder to slash. Give and take.