What is the Widest Paddle Board?
If you’re asking “What is the widest paddle board?”, you’re probably shopping for your first board. We’re going to answer the question from that perspective. This won’t be an article in search of some gimmicky monstrosity that holds 10 people. There will be no Guinness Book of Records insights here. Just a simple answer for paddlers trying to get educated.
Paddle board width is an important design factor and it should be a consideration when purchasing a SUP. It’s especially important for first time buyers. Width plays a major role in board stability. Wider boards will be more stable than narrow boards, and width is determined by the board’s function. Racing boards are the narrowest style with some being less than 20” wide. All Around paddle boards have an average width of 32 inches.
When considering a paddle board’s width, it is important to remember the concept of drag. A wider paddle board has a larger footprint. That means, there is more surface area in contact with the water. The more contact, the more energy it takes to travel a certain distance compared to a narrower board. This is friction. That’s why racing paddle boards are so narrow. They have less drag and can travel further on less energy.
With the physics of friction in mind, there are practical limits as to how wide a paddle board can be. If it is too wide, the paddle board would become difficult to move forward, and that isn’t fun no matter how stable it is, or how much weight it can hold.
To get a paddle board that offers speed, maneuverability, and stability, the widest a paddle board can be made that offers those functions is 36” wide. Any wider, and the board becomes to slow and less maneuverable.
However, not all 36” wide paddle boards are the same. Inflatable paddle boards this wide need to be avoided. Inflatables have flat bottoms. This means a whole lot of surface area in contact with the water. All that water contact results in drag, which will make for a slow and unenjoyable paddling experience.
In order to have the same experience on a wide paddle board as you would on a standard 32” wide board, it is important to get a hard paddle board. Hard boards can be shaped to have concave bottoms. A concave bottom lets the water slide smoothly under the board with much less friction. Less friction means more speed with less effort. The best paddle boards like the Wappa Olas will have double concave bottoms which makes the flow of water even more efficient.
Wide paddle boards are a great option for heavier riders, or people with a naturally wide stance. A properly shaped 36” wide hard paddle board with a concave bottom can be as much fun on the water and in the surf as a narrower 32” board. It won’t be as fast as a touring or racing styles, but you can still do it all. The key to success with the widest paddle board will be its shape. Keep that in mind when shopping.
The Wappa Blog
Written by Wappa's founder Layne Pennell, the blog's aim is to educate and share his love of stand up paddle boarding with anyone interested in SUP.
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