Claire Blacklock, from the stand up paddle surfing UK forums, very kindly spent some time riding and reviewing her Oxbow SUP. Here are her conclusions.
Before going any further with this I feel I ought to put out a disclaimer! I am new to Stand Up Paddle boarding and relatively new to surfing all together so apologies if I get the terminology wrong or make too many irrelevant points….
I have lived in West Sussex for just over a year and unlike those who say they have 20 odd years experience I have only been attempting to surf for roughly that time…Waves down here are not as consistent as they could be, so when I read about Paddle Boarding on the net I jumped at it as a way to get out on the sea as much as I can. Although I am eager to get out on waves a bit more even when there is flat calm, paddling out is just awesome.
I had a lesson back in September on an 11′ Jimmy Lewis. I loved the feel of paddling through the water though for me the board was heavy and difficult to turn. Granted with borrowed equipment the paddle is bound to be the wrong length and so its not as well set up. At the time I thought it was my fitness and inexperience that made the manoeuveres awkward. I decided that instead of spending my money hiring out the boards I’d just save for one…At the time there were a few JL’s about and I was all for getting one as I knew they had good stability.Talking to Andy from Airhead changed my mind (easily done) and he steered me towards the Oxbow even allowing me to borrow one he had in the shop.
Getting the paddle was however my first decision. I almost opted for an aluminium for starters just because of the cost but am so glad I didn’t. I took one look and feel of a Quick Blade Peahi and was hooked. Cutting it down was a tad scary but the feel of it as it glides through the water is beyond words. It’s smooth and so light with the handle just nestling in the palm of your hand. Some paddles I’m told can flex, now I am doubtful that I’d notice even if it did but I’ve had no feeling of this. I’ve recently put a rubber edging round the paddle to prevent chips to the rails of the board, I was a little worried I’d feel a difference in the performance but I’m happy to say I’ve not.
The first few times out on the Oxbow I was amazed at how different it was. Not as stable as the JL but for me that was fine. Far easier to manoeuver, it responds to what you ask it to do. It has two leash plugs and a tri fin layout. To be honest I have no idea if it that makes a difference to how well it moves in flat water or in waves but thought I ought to pop it in! It also has a screw in/out air vent. The main advantage for this is I think for air travel though I’ve been advised to get into the habit of removing it in preparation for the heat of the summer as the air expansion in larger boards can cause delamination!! There are some out there that suggest putting some duck tape over the hole as it allows slight expansion and contraction If I ever loose the plug I’ll let you know how it goes!.
Paddling out it pops over smaller waves easily, even broken ones..I do this on my knees but I’ve been told that is ok!! Paddling in to catch the waves this board is fluid and the more I’m out the more confident I’m becoming – though still have a long, long way to go. I’m sure the more I go out, especially in bigger waves I’ll have more to add… On a calm day she glides through the water beautifully and the sound of the water on the hollow shell is just beautiful.
As boards go the Oxbow is not too heavy, my problem is that I have (to be blunt) short arms! I can get it on my head but I worry that it’s not stable and that I’m not strong enough. This being the case I invested in what is called a sling. It wraps round the board and clips together leaving a carry handle which you put over your shoulder. It is made for normal surfboards, so I was really chuffed it had enough length for the girth of the paddle board. Anyone who has an issue with the weight or size of the board or who has to carry it a long distance..the sling is the way to go!
The only negative I can think of (and I warn you it’s perhaps a bit girly!) is that Oxbow don’t do a board grip as yet. I have a JL one on as I really don’t like wax. It’s blue so matches the board 😉 but it does fit nicely and is good to stand on, and easy to fall off! Some other boards I’ve read about recently seem to have deck grips as standard and to my mind it makes sense. I’ve no idea if Oxbow are planning to do this but it’s worth checking out.
Like I said before, I’ve not had an enormous amount of time on this board so perhaps my thoughts will change but for a smaller, lighter person you could do worse that the Oxbow.