Four Standup Boards Compared

By a really mediocre surfer. But hey, that’s okay, there’s a lot of folks starting off with standup, so a duffer’s viewpoint could be helpful to them. The boards I compared are the boards I’ve got: A Laird, a Ku Nalu, a Jimmy Lewis 11.0 X 30 and a Jimmy Lewis 11″7″ X 26. I went to Puamana beach park near Lahina, dragging along four boards, Diane with her Nikon and Sam the Gay Dog.

I hauled all four boards out and set them on the sand in order of degree of tippiness, a highly scientific approach. Incidentally, the bootie on one foot isn’t some attempt at a signature thing like Michael Jackson’s glove. I broke my toe the other day leaping onto my mast during blown jibe number 4,327. I found that “buddy taping” it to the toe next to it keeps it from flopping around and a surf bootie keeps the assembly all tied together. It doesn’t do much for my balance, but other than that it’s not much bother.


The Jimmy Lewis 11’7″ X 26.5 X 4.75″ is the narrowest, has the softest rails and the narrowest tail of all four boards.

The Ku Nalu has similar gross dimensions: 12′ 2″ X 26 5/8″ x 4 5/8″, but it has a blunter nose, wider tail, and harder edges.

The Jimmy Lewis 11’0″ X 30″X 4.4″ has an extremely wide tail, a blunt nose, downturned rails, a flat bottom and a huge fin, all of which makes it as stable as a wharf.

The Laird is the behemoth of the bunch, 12’1″ X 31″ X 4.13″ thick. It’s flat in the midsection with a little nose and tail rocker. the rails are fairly soft with a little tuck at the bottom. It’s got a fin that looks absolutely tiny on this huge board.

I’ve been using all four of these boards for a while, the Laird being the newest. And I rarely paddle the JL 11’7″ – I use it as a longboard for small to midsized surf, and it’s wonderful for that.

So the plan is to ride all four back to back and assess them comparatively for initial stability, maneuverability, paddling, and surfing. Your mileage will vary, and I invite your comments and corrections.

We’ll start with the Ku Nalu since I’ve had it the longest. This is a challenging board for a beginner to ride, I’m surprised that I was able to learn on it. The very first thing you notice is that this board is relatively heavy. It calls to question the value of hollow boards. The second thing you notice is that it’s fast. Very fast, way faster than any of the other boards in this comparison and/or any others I’ve tried. I have no idea why. It accelerates very quickly, in fact that’s one of the problems in learning on it–you find yourself going off the back more than on other boards.

It has some initial stability, but once it starts to tip, it keeps going. It doesn’t seem to develop any corrective stability,. I suspect this is because there is so little rocker over the length of the board.


The Ku Nalu surfs beautifully, you can catch anything with the speed and acceleration that’s available, and it turns and trims very sweetly. You don’t need to stand on the tail to turn it, just a little rail pressure is fine. I haven’t been using this board as much since I got the others, and this test made me realize what I was missing. Except for the stability issues, this would be a great choice for a long paddle. It hauls. Some people have raised safety issues about hollow boards–they say if you break one you don’t have anything that floats. I don’t know if that’s true, but it might be worth some thought for open water crossing.

This is the best surfing board after the JL 11’7″ for my beginner skills. Pretty much surfs itself and doesn’t do anything funny.

Next up is the Laird. I’ve only had this a week or so. I put a “do-it-yourself” deck pad on it the other day. I should have taken it to the Ding King and had them do it. The self-stick pads are expensive ($139) and when I compare the finished product to what Amir at the Ding King did for my JL 11’7″ I could just gag.


The Laird is extremely stable, equal to or better than the JL 11′ X 30″. It paddles well, though it doesn’t accelerate or cruise like the Ku Nalu. What it does better than any other board I’ve tried is turn. It spins around with just foot pressure. It’s a very strange feeling. You can be just paddling and decide to turn. Instead of stepping back and paddling wide you can just twist your knees and ankles and the board swings.

What I haven’t been so successful at is surfing it. With the standard fin it slews in the wave as you try to turn. I had it spin out completely on one occasion, doing about two thirds of a 180 before I hit the drink backwards. If I had been trying to do that I’d be really pleased, but as you might have noticed, I ain’t Laird. I swapped in the huge fin from the JL 11×30 and it made two big differences. It fixed the slewing and made it very hard to turn. Maybe someplace in between is the answer.

Towards the end of the day I got one of my friends at Puamana (I’m embarrassed to say that I don’t remember his name) to try the board. He’s a superb and graceful surfer. He had the Laird dancing in the waves, and liked it a lot. So okay, it’s me, big surprise.

Next is the JL 11×30. When I first got this board I felt like I was cheating. It’s extremely easy to get on and paddle. I had a hard time surfing it at first–at one point I claimed it wobbled like a Rappala. Now I’m trying to figure out what my problem was. It surfs great. I can’t get it to do any of the things I used to complain of, even when I try. I hope the Laird turns out the same way.


You can stand on this board so casually that you start falling off from simple inattention. Like we used to say about motorcycles–new riders have two accidents, one caused by incompetence, the second by overconfidence. You can see in the bottom two pictures that I’m totally relaxed on this board, and I can catch just about any kind of sloppy little wave. During this session I was catching waves that were a long way from breaking, I’d just keep paddling hard until the board slotted in. You can paddle out through big whitewater–even when it pushes the board backwards the board stays stable. It’s almost too easy. Like I said, cheating.

The only downside is that it doesn’t really cruise. You paddle and it goes. You stop and it stops. Not much momentum.

Finally we come to the Jimmy Lewis 11’7″. What a great surfboard, and a great standup board for anyone under 185. But for me, it’s a longboard. My balance has gotten good enough that I can stand on it, paddle and catch waves. But it’s a battle. But when you belly paddle it into a wave and just stuff it under your feet, it feels like a living thing. It carves into a bottom turn like a parabolic ski, and it zooms. I’ve been startled at the speed I can get in a wave with this board.


But as for me paddling it, well, look at the pictures. I managed to get into a couple of mooshy waves, but the board was so deep under the water that i needed to step on the tail just to get the nose up on top of the water. It didn’t pearl, it just stayed submerged. This is the only board I’ve ever gotten a nose ride from, other than just passing through while I was staggering off the pointy end. There’s really no point in including it in this review other than it’s a great surf board, smaller people will love it, and I’ve already got it.

So here’s my not scientific at all ratings for these three boards. Laird is L, Jimmy Lewis 11×30 is JL11, and the 11’7″ X 26 is JL7, the Ku Nalu is KN:

Initial stability 1. L 2. JL11 3. KN 4. JL7

Recovery stability: 1. L 2. JL11 3. JL7 4. KN


Cruising (maintains momentum) 1. KN 2. L 3. JL11

Maneuverability 1. L 2. JL11 3. KN

Surfing 1. JL7 2. KN 3. JL11 4. L

More than what the numbers show is overall feel and enjoyment of the boards. If I could only have one board it would be the Jimmy Lewis 11 x 30, but that’s probably because I’m a beginner and I’m really big. Second would be the the Laird. the Laird is actually a better all-around board, but you can get confident and competent with the JL11 faster than any other board I’ve tried.
The Ku Nalu is more specialized, much higher performance, and I think as I get better it will become my favorite. The Jimmy Lewis 11’7″ is my favorite surfboard.

I’m really glad I have them all.

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42 thoughts on “Four Standup Boards Compared”

  1. Hey Pono Bill,
    What do you know about the Mickey Munoz 12’0″ (Soft top or Tuflite) from Surftech. Having read your article I’d surmise that it’s too small for a 220 pounder. Whatchya tink?
    James Clapp (“jim” from oc

  2. I haven’t tried one–I looked at them, and they look wonderful, but they’re a little skinny for a beginner and a little thin for a big guy. At 220 you need some displacement. I’ve tried the Sean Ordonez red and blue boards. I sunk the blue one briskly, but the red one seemed very good. I didn’t get to surf it, but it paddled fine.

    I’d suggest either the Jimmy Lewis 11’x30 or the Laird for a guy your size. Of course you can’t get either one at the moment, but hopefully their containers from Asia will get delivered soon.

    All the same, if you have a chance to try the Munoz, just do it and see. If you can stand up on it and see the nose and tail then go for it. more challenging boards are better in the long run. I think the easy ones might eventually be too stable for serious play.

  3. Mahalo Bill! I’ll try it-the soft top is only about $600 and I can always use it for regular surfing. Maybe a Jimmy Lewis as I improve-they look sick!Now, how ’bout rating the paddles? I noticed some of them are quite different from the Kialoas I’m used to-seems smaller blade is good for SUP-Whaddya think? James
    P.S. The Aluminum camper looks pretty sweet, any stops in Washington state? Pack yer 6mm hooded wetsuit!

  4. Actually the first stop is in Washington. The schedule has changed a little, I’m staying an extra week in Maui but the race in May at Pacific Raceway is now the first race of the season.

    I live in Portland when I’m not living here. I’ve got the 6 mil wetsuit, booties and gloves, but I can’t bring myself to use them much anymore.

  5. I have two paddles, a quickblade and a pohaku. I don’t see much difference between them, they both seem fine. I looked at some of Laird Hamilton’s paddles the other day, and they were very slick. The back of the paddle where it joins the handle was formed to provide reinforcing ridges. I find when I’m pressing down had in a wave that the blade flexes a lot. I bet his don’t.

  6. the 12 ft Munoz does not have enough volume, and the bottom is slightly “keeled” which makes it a bit tippy for stand-up paddling – the Laird is a much more stable stannd-up paddle board; the munoz is a great small to medium wave regular surfboard

  7. Hi Bill,
    great job here!
    I wish I was there with you when you tried the boards!
    My ranking would have probably be quite different from yours, but that’s understandable since I’m 150 lbs and a bit more experienced.
    The JL 11×30 is for me the worse SUP board I tried so far… it’s so all relative and personal.
    If you do it again, gimme a call!


  8. GP, you need to try it with the little Laird fin instead of that 17″ monster that Jimmy puts on them. Completely different board. I’ll be down at Kanaha in the morning. Probably no wind or maybe a longboard wavesailing day, eh?. I’ll bring a bunch of boards so you can try them if you make your way down there. Nothing much going on at Hookipa except maybe a nice little morning session.

    The waves looked beautiful there this evening, but I was too bushed to stop.

  9. Hello Bill,
    I recently came across your paddle surfing articles while trying to find out more on the subject and read your 4 board comparison. The information you provided was very helpful. I’m looking to purchase a standup paddle board for lake use. I live in Minneapolis (Minnesota-Land of 10,000 lakes) and want a board that is stable & has cruising capability. With my 200lb., 6’2″ frame, it sounds like the Laird or the JL 1130 might be a good choice. What are your thoughts? My wife and I hope to spend a week or so in Maui the beginning of May and wonder if you had any advice on other board makers to visit or boards to demo (if available).
    Thanks Bill

  10. I think you’d like the 11X30 JL because its super easy to stand on, but it’s strong suit is surfing, not paddling (though I’ve probably covered at least a hundred miles on mine). The Laird is better for paddling, and I think the new Starboard boards will be particularly good on lakes. One of their boards is based on the Ku Nalu (they’re using that shape as the plug) so it will be a bit narrow, but should be fine for your weight, the other is a bit longer and wider. I haven’t seen them yet, but I’ve been talking to Starboard about bringing two of their boards on the All Aluminum Tour, which, by the way, will come pretty close to Minneapolis. the first stop after Seattle is Elkheart Lake WI.

    If you’re coming to Maui in May, you might want to get in touch with Jimmy Lewis. He lives in Maui and shapes in Haiku. You can contact him through his website. Great guy. If you want to try a few boards, get in touch with Hawaiian Island Surf and Sport ( They’re on the road from the airport (Dairy Road) right where it intersects with Hana Highway. talk to Lenny (the owner) or Carl, or anyone in the place. they are the most knowledgeable folks around. Almost everyone working there has been there for five years or more, I think Carl has been there more than fifteen years, and I’ve known Lenny since the eighties.

    They have a huge selection of rental gear, by may you can probably try both a Laird and a JL 11X30. You can also try HyTech. they have rental stand up boards, in particular they have the Sean Ordonez boards.

  11. Thanks Bill for the great advice. Your research and testing has been a great benefit to me. I was wondering how you felt the Sean Ordonez Big Red compared to the Laird.

  12. Bill – Thanks for your reviews. As a beginner located on Oahu, I find it really helpful in learning this new sport. I am 6′ and 210 lbs and now getting into this SUP Surf thing. I’ve had about 5 days so far. The first 2 days was on a Surftech Munoz 12′ by 26″ wide epoxy board. That was pretty darn hard but I’ve perfected the back roll. That’s when you lose your balance and roll right off the back. I also tried briefly the Laird and a custom board from Tropical Blends. The custom from TB was way easier than the Munoz and the Laird was way easier than TB. I really want to try the Jimmy 11’er but no one has stock for another 2 months.

    Are you riding your Jimmy 11′ the most? At your weight and height, what board would you choose for surfing if you could only have one?

  13. Bill – I heard that some of the boards had the outer coating chipping off on the rails and top area due to paddles hitting them. Have you had any problem w/ that for any of your boards?

  14. To date I’ve tested about every board I can find, and the JL 11er is the best for me. Unfortunately I don’t think there will be many available until May. Used ones are selling for more than new ones. I imagine Jimmy Lewis is going a little nuts by now.

    If I could only have one board it would absolutely be the JL11.

    I was driving home today behind my wife’s Xterra which had both the JL 11 and the Laird on the roof (I was carrying the Hobie Adventure Island trimaran Kayaks–we’re entertaining relatives this week). It immediately struck me why I like the JL so much better than the Laird. The tail of the JL has a quick little rocker section towards the end. Not only does this allow the tail to pivot better when you put weight on it, but it also helps stability.

    My Jimmy Lewis is terribly beat up along the rails from the paddle. It’s had a rough life, probably at least two years worth of use in the last two months–I’m on it almost every day, all day. It’s relatively easy to prevent that, you can just run a strip of mastic tape along the rail from the nose to just past your feet. There won’t be any paddle dings further back than that once you stop flailing the paddle around when you fall.

    You can also tape the paddle edge. There’s a rubbery electrical tape that works well for this. It WILL affect the handling of the paddle, but not much and you’ll get used to it.

  15. I like the way the Ordonez board surfs (remember though that I could at best be called an intermediate surfer) but I didn’t care much for how it paddles. Its not particularly stable for all of it’s size. Perhaps if I spent more time on it I’d get used to it, but it seems no more stable than the Ku Nalu but doesn’t have the Ku Nalu’s speed or coasting ability.

    I think everyone who has tried the Ku Nalu agrees that it surfs really well. I can’t make a comparison between the two for surfing ability.

    Now that I’ve had a considerable amount of time on the Laird I’ve pretty much decided it’s best as a pure beginner board or for downwinders. I know that good surfers can make it work well, but I can’t.

  16. Evan,
    I think it makes the most sense to go straight to a JL 11er. They’re reasonably priced, they’re stable enough to learn on, and they surf fine. With a smaller fin they turn and handle fine.

    I never put a pad on my JL, and that was a mistake. I have deep heel dings. Jimmy is replacing my board and I’m getting the new pad that he has, which looks great and will probably work even better. It has ramped edges to give your feet an edge to press against.

    The pad on my 11’7″ was installed by the Ding King and it’s standard pad foam. Works great and looks great. The pad on my Laird is the do-it-yourself pad from Pohkatu Beach Boy–the folks that make carbon fiber paddles. It’s a nice looking pad but I did a lousy job of cutting it to shape. If I was going to do it again, I’d either have the Ding King do it, or make some cardboard templates to get a better shape. The do-it-yourself pads are not cheaper because they are self adhesive. I think it was $139.

  17. Hi Bill

    Really enjoyed your article. I have done a lot of board testing and instruction when it comes to windsurfing. Your reviews are great. As a surfer living in Florida I am looking to get a SUP for our summer flats coming soon to a beach near me. I met John Denny here and I had a chance to ride the blue Ordonez board for a few minutes. I am 6’2″ and 205 lbs. I was able to get up and paddle without too much difficulty but the water was nice and smooth. I had my camera with me so I took a few shots and posted them on youtube. Here is a link if you would like to see some South Florida SUP

    Once again I really enjoyed you article.
    Juno Beach FL

  18. Thanks for the nice comments. If you can wait until the end of May you’ll have a lot to choose from. The Starboard is supposed to be available then, though it’s not as inexpensive as first expected–about $2000 for the wood version which is lighter and stronger than the plain one (which I think is going to be about $1700).

    Jimmy Lewis should have 11er’s by then, and I understand his primary mainland distributor on the east coast will probably be the first place to have them. You really need to try on of these. And the next shipment of Laird Surftechs should be available by then. If you are going to use the board mostly for paddling long distances in flat water the Laird would be good, as well as the Starboard version that’s made from the Ku Nalu plug.

    Nice video, looks like you guys are getting into SUP quickly in Florida. It’s such a seductive sport, I think it’s going to be very big everywhere.

    Whatever you do, be sure to get a mast track on your SUP board. As a long time windsurfer, you’ll fall in love with wavesailing a SUP board. I find myself hoping for light wind days. Very weird. But it brings you right back to where windsurfing headed off in the wrong direction–when high performance planing boards became all anyone did. We lost the ability to play around on our boards and use them for crazy stuff like camping, or island hopping. Wavesailing a longboard or SUP brings all that right back. It’s another variation of the sport I think will be big.

  19. Bill, thanks for your comparisons. I live south of Boston and as you know the east coast gets FLAT. My local shop just got in a cpl Walden 12′ SUP 5″thick by 30″wide. My mate just bought the Laird but hasnt gotten out yet. Have you or have you heard any thing on the Waldens? I havent seen them yet but the shop said it has a pin tail and looks to be the same size as a Laird… Cost is $1220 vs 1500 for the Laird…
    Your article has me stoked.. Thanks

  20. Well, the Walden sounds good, though of course the shape is at least as important as the overall dimensions. The price is good. I wonder what they’ll be selling the JL 11er for. The Laird is $1750 in Maui. I think I paid less than $1K for my JL 11er.

    The pintail part has me wondering. Some of the stability of the JL comes from the wide tail. It’s not ideal for surfing since it doesn’t release like a pin will, but it might also be a bit wobbly. The Ordonez red board has a fairly narrow tail and they are much less stable than the JL even though they’re longer and almost as wide.

    If you can rent them to try them for a day, do it.

    It’s funny, but I thought a lot about paddling on the cape while I was doing this in Maui. I grew up in Boston (Allston) and always wanted to surf or sail, or do anything in all that water. After I left home my family moved to Wareham, which really pissed me off. I would have loved to live there when I was growing up. I can easily imagine poking around all those bays and beaches on a SUP board. Not so many Tiger sharks to fuel the over-active imagination either.

  21. Thanks Bill. Ill be checking it out tommmorow and Ill know what the shape is. Unfortunately they dont rent them in fact these are the first to the area.. I actually grew up in Hull and live in N. Weymouth on the water. Im hoping to get out in the bay and ride the wakes of the Boston commuter boats on those flat summer or rather SummA days… (said in my Boston accent)

  22. Sure thing. Let me know what you find out.

    My brother lives in Carver and is working hard to get back in shape so he can try Standup again. He was at my house in Maui last year and didn’t do so well. It was good motivation for him.

    If you don’t mind I’ll put him in touch with you, he’s working on getting a board. I was going to send him my Laird but the freight was prohibitive.

    I’ll be in the Boston area this summer as part of the tour. I’m bringing at least one board (the new Starboard) as well as a Superfreak sail. Perhaps we can all hook up and get wet.

  23. Have you seen or tried any of the Ed Angulo SUP Boards? I just saw the new production models. They are 10′ 4″ by 28″ or 29″, 10’8″ by 30 ” and 11’9″ by 31″. The bottom has a dual concave and the tail is a little different. They look really stable but I’m waiting for the shipment to come in to try one. I’m leaning toward the 11’9″.

  24. Sounds good, give me a shout when your in town. My buddy got out on the North river in Marshfield today on his Laird.. He said it was Freekn Awesome!!! His words…. he fell off once when he locked out his knees then stumbled off the back. I met up with him at our local shop “Noreaster” in Scituate. They got 2 Waldens in.
    I went and put $500 on the Walden (Lairds are out of stock till late July) Side by side the walden is same dimensions except more rocker in the nose and tail. It also has a “Chymed”bottom vs flat..Looks like it will turn easier and displace water better on a run. The 2 waldens he had in were a little different, due to being hand shaped.The tail is rounded square with a diamond point, very much like the laird. It is a beautiful board, I couldnt take the chance of not getting one till July which most likely means aug/sept….This sport is going to take off around here I am sure. Have you heard of a chymed bottom?

  25. Oh, have your brother contact me if he wants to get out. Tell him Noreaster has another Walden in stock. I now have to figure out how to tell the Mrs Im bringing home a new toy… Cant hide it too well at 12’X30″ hahahaha

  26. I just got a Sean Ordonez Big Red and took it out today. Diamond Head was super windy (offshore) with gusts over 20 mph. I paddled over to Waikiki and that was better. The only issue I had was it was super hard to get the nose to drop into the wave. Is that normal with winds 5-15 mph, is it the board or is it that I suck as a beginner? Although it’s harder to balance, I seem to be able to catch waves w/ the 12′ Munoz surfboard much easier.

  27. Evan,
    I think you’re experiencing what put me off from this board. I don’t know enough to say why, but this is a pretty big board, but it doesn’t seem particularly stable, and it’s hard to get it into a wave. Once you’re in the wave it turns and surfs nicely, but I found myself hanging on the lip a lot, trying to kick the nose down. Or giving two more really hard paddles to get into the wave. The Laird does this too, the JL doesn’t.

    One of my friends said it’s because the board gets wide early, so there’s a lot of flotation in the nose, but that doesn’t make sense to me. The JL is as wide or wider and has a rounded nose.

    I’m working on a custom board that I hope will solve some of these issues for big guys. I’m aiming for barely stable enough for a heavy beginner, turns quick, and drops into a wave without drama or a lot of wobbling.

    I don’t think any really experienced surfer will fall in love with this board, but guys my size that are trying to get back into catching waves should find it a good compromise. We’ll see. If they work out I’ll go into some limited production.

    I assume my problem was that I wasn’t in exactly the right position, but do you experience a sort of wobble when you first trim into the wave?

  28. Bill,
    I haven’t noticed any wobble yet. After roughly 10 hours on the SOS Big Red over the past few days I realized it’s my skill and wind that make the biggest difference for me.

    Yesterday I went with 2 friends on a downwind run from Hawaii Kai Boat Harbor (Maunalua Bay) to Kahala Beach Park. I think it’s about 3 miles but not sure. It took about 2.5 hours to make the run with stops along the way to surf. My 220-230 lbs friend rode a Surftech Laird 12’1″ by 31″ and other friend had a hand shaped Ron House Laird 11’6″ by 28″. I traded w/ my friend on the Ron House Laird for the day. The wind was blowing btw 10-20+ mph so it was choppy conditions.

    The Ron House Laird was tippy but was pretty stable for its width. Kind of an oxymoron, huh? It paddled way better than my big red (more glide) and surfed really well. If it was just an inch or 2 wider I think it would be perfect for me. Ron House is also the shaper for the Surftech Laird but the profile looks much different…more like a classic longboard.

    My friend on the Surftech Laird had a fairly easy time because his board is so stable. He’s really happy with it.

    At the end of the day I was tired but pretty happy because I was definitely getting better. Time on the water makes the biggest difference.

    I just went this morning at 7 AM in Waikiki. I paddled from the parking lot at Ala Moana Bowls/Kaisers and went out to 3’s and then canoes on my big red. There was virtually no wind or chop and it was glassy for most of the session. What a night and day difference the wind makes. I caught about 10-15 waves total and had no problem paddling, catching waves, etc. I also noticed that I’m standing about 6″ further forward than I did the other day which makes a big difference when dropping in on waves. This sport is way more fun once you start to get the hang of it and I’m getting a great workout. Now I just need to get the turning mastered so I can paddle to the line up and turn at will.

    I keep wondering if I’d be happier on a Surftech Laird because it’s so stable and easy to paddle. The debate is that once I get better, the Surftech Laird won’t be fun or challenging anymore. I’m anxiously waiting for the Jimmy 11’er because I love Jimmy’s boards. It’s a long wait bc they arrive in June.

    What are you doing w/ your Jimmy 11’er while you’re in the mainland? Did you sell the Laird already?

  29. Bill,
    After thinking a bit I do have a tricky time about 10-20 feet in front of the wave. That’s when I normally lose my balance but I think with practice it will become moot.

  30. Great that you’re having so much fun, Evan. The downwinders in chop make a big difference in your overall stability on the board–fastest way to get your sea legs I find.

    My JL 11er is at Hawaiian Island Surf and Sport. Lenny (the owner) wanted it for a demo. Jimmy is replacing mine for me because it delaminated under my heels. I’m really pleased he’s standing behind it, he probably didn’t figure on guys my size tromping on his board.

    If you make your way to Maui I’m sure Lenny would let you have a go at it. He’ll also probably be one of the first places around to have the boards. He and Jimmy are friends and Lenny sells a lot of JL boards.

    I’m not sure whether or not the Laird is sold yet. My friend Lane Mead is handling it for me. Selling the Laird was a last minute decision and I had to head back to the mainland.

    I think anyone that spends enough time on the Lairds will be very happy with it, I just bonded to my 11er first.

    I certainly miss the workout. My chest muscles are deflating as I sit here. I need to get back in the water. I guess I’ll go to my beach house in Manzanita and see if I can fit into the old wet suit. Ugh.

  31. Two other things. You can speed your turning a great deal by making sure you start with the paddle way up next to the nose and sweep to 90 degrees. Put the foot on the same side as the paddle back a wide step, lean back a little, and pivot your knees as you sweep the paddle. You can literally spin the board this way.

    Second thing, if you want to try the JL I’d suggest you give Lenny a call and make the quick flight. Go airlines is 30 bucks.

  32. On turning: If I’m turning to the left the paddle is sweeping 90 degrees on the right of the board. My right foot should be back 6″ or so and put weight on it?

    I’ll be in Maui in May but probably for kiting. I may try the Jimmy if there’s not enough wind or maybe both. Thanks for the info.

    In your opinion, would you even bother w/ the Laird if I already have the SOS Big Red and am planning on getting the JL 11’er?

    Have you tried the Jimmy 10′ by 28″ yet? It’s a new one he has coming out.

  33. I’ve now put in a pretty fair amount of time into this so here’s my update. I’m now about 40 hours into this sport and a lot of my initial problems are gone. I think it’s just time on the water that will solve most issues.

    Check out this video made from today using a Digital Hero 3 and shot at Pop’s in Waikiki Oahu.
    The guy in the white top is me and the skinny guy in the blue top is my brother. The big guy with the blue top and hat is our friend Harris. Both my brother and Harris are riding Surftech Laird’s and my brother is on the Laird I bought from Bill. I’m on a friend’s custom shaped Ron House Laird 11’4″ x 28″ x 4. You’ll notice how stable the Surftech’s are. I weigh 210 lbs and my friend is probably 230 lbs. My brother is 170 lbs.

    I finally got a chance to ride a Jimmy Lewis 11’er and also visited Jimmy at his shop. You can see some pics and short video from his shop in the middle of this video.

    I reserved Bill’s old Jimmy 11’er at Hawaiian Island, paid in advance and called at least 5 times during the previous week to make sure they held it for me. I was only in Maui for less than 24 hours so I wanted to try it for the day. About 10 min before the scheduled pickup time they called me and said they made a mistake and rented it to another guy. I was not happy to say the least. To their credit, Lenny the owner hunted down the guy that rented the board and I was able to try it for 2 hours just before I left Maui. I guess 2 hours is better than nothing and I can honestly say that the Jimmy is the most stable, easy to stand up on and paddle board I’ve tried so far. I tried it at Kite Beach in Maui in 20 mph winds and chop and was still able to paddle around. Needless to say, I’m getting one when they come in and I may have Jimmy shape me a custom 10′ board after I ride the 11’er for a while.

    I lent the Suftech Laird to a friend who has been learning on the custom Ron House board. The Ron House is much more tippy although it surfs pretty awesome. Once my friend got on the Surftech Laird he was so happy and instantly got better. It was like night and day. The board does make a big difference when learning.

  34. Bill-

    Thanks for all your posts, they have been extremely helpful as I contemplate the big plunge into stand up paddling.
    One thing you left out of your review (perhaps intentionally) was value for these boards. The Jimmy’s list for about 15% less than the Laird. Is it worth it?
    As someone with too many hobbies in already, I’m looking to keep the band account as much in the green as possible.
    I’ve been thinking about the JL 11’7″ and am only 175lbs. Do you think for someone lighter like me that board would be stable enough to learn on?

  35. Will – The Jimmy 11’7″ and 11’0″ are quite a bit different. Jimmy boards are worth the money. I bought an 11’er and am anxiously waiting for the shipment to get here. You’re fairly light so the 11’7″ may be ok but it also may be tippy. The bottom is a bit rounded and it’s a little narrow for a stand up board that size. I heard it surfs great though.

    I’ve tried the 11’er and Bill will also tell you that it’s the best one we’ve both tried so far. Best means easiest to learn on, paddle, balance, surf etc. It’s also the least expensive. I also have a Surftech Laird which surfs much better now that I changed the fin to a Farberow Flexy Fin 9.5″ from Wardog at but I still prefer the Jimmy 11 after trying it in Maui in 20 mph winds and chop.

  36. Thanks Bill for your blogs on stand up.

    I am coming into the sport from a totally different vantage. WHile I used to surf, my background is competitive rowing while in college and on the us team.

    I needed a little time away from rowing and I never had any interest in canoe or kayaks… despite several attempts, both were completely useless for a workout on the legs.

    June 1st got the bug (live in San Diego)and went out bought a Laird with a C4 paddle. I am big guy 6’4′ 265 and took right to it. It took a few days to develop the core muscles but the rowing muscles adapt perfectly to stand up. The laird has been perfect for a first board and durable as hell. I am planning on getting another board for some long distance races and likely another for surfing larger swells.

    I am trying to knock out 4 to 6 miles every morning more for training/fitness and surfing is an afterthought. Rowing is one of the hardest sports in the world combining both strength and endurance. Stand up is in the same league when I am paddling at a high cadence and can be learned in 10 minutes not months/years.

    Should be interesting where stand up goes in the next few years…

  37. To all the paddleboarders… Hats off and thanks a lot for your input.
    I live in Japan and here it’s hardly seen
    So far I’ve tried 2 boards the SOS (blue) think it’s around 10 feet but it felt too short for me. It was hard to keep my balance and have to admit I didn’t do any surfing on it just paddled and I think for a guys my size (sorry) 1.88cm and 78 Kg there were no sparks!!! The second board I tried was called Padobo which is a Japanese made board of 11.4 and it had the length but had two holes in the bottom which made it easy to carry around (looks like shit though) I would never buy that board just because of the holes in it. I am thinking about buying the Laird but it is a bit over the budget I had in mind. Bill you deserve a throne in Heaven for this site man!!! Thanks a lot I really hope this sport will take off here so I can try more before buying. Any thoughts on what would be a good board for a beginner my size and weight???

  38. Hi Bill love your site and was wondering what kind of board you would recommend for someone like me??? 6’2″ and I weigh about 176. I don’t really hear any mentioning about the height of a person but doesn’t it influence the size of a board??? Or is weight and experience all that matters???

  39. Weight and skill level are the big issues. I see some beanpoles SUPing on boards that I couldn’t use as a longboard.

    If you can wait until the board showcase (the results will be out Feb 25th, then I’ll have better advice, but for right now, if you’re a beginner, I’d look at the new, shorter Jimmy Lewis boards, the mid length C4 or the mid length Starboards. All great boards.

    You’ll want length and little rocker for flatwater, and shorter boards for waves. The shapes are getting very refined and the boards are getting more specialized every day.

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