I have had my lovely red GONG board for about a month now. I was tempted to do a review straight away, but I resisted that temptation as I really wanted to get some hours on the board, in the surf and on flat water to get a good impression of what it is all about.
GONG SUP have interested me since I found their advertising banner on Nate’s Stand Up Paddle Surfing Magazine website. I was really pleased to find a European manufacturer who appeared to be way ahead of the curve in board design. I was also really pleased when I found out 2XS were the UK distributors, and I called up Simon and got myself an Electric 9’11”.
So did it cut the mustard ? Read on and find out…
GONG SUP make a huge range of stand up paddle boards, 17 and counting, with more being developed all the time. The boards also come in three constructions, Proteck, which is an epoxy construction that compares well with the equivalent type of epoxy construction that most SUP board manufacturers use. Highteck, which is another epoxy construction, but it is much lighter, and finally, the most expensive is Carbonteck, as the name suggests is lighter again and includes carbon fibres in the build.
GONG 9′ 11” Electric Stand Up Paddle Board Specs :
Length : 9’11″ = 302.5 cm
Width : 28″ 1/2 = 72.5 cm
Thickness : 4″ 3/5 = 11.7 cm
Volume : 125 litres
Width one foot off the tip of the nose : 20″ 5/7 = 52.6 cm
Width one foot off the tip of the tail : 15″ 3/4 = 40 cm
Tail : Diamond Tail.
Nose : Round Nose.
Fins : Tri-fin or single fin (delivered as a tri-fin).
Proteck weight : 11.2. kg (indicative weight ± 5%)
Highteck weight : 9.6 kg (indicative weight ± 5%)
Carbonteck weight : 9.1 kg (indicative weight ± 5%)
This review will look at the Electric 9’11’’ in the Highteck construction. The very first thing that I noticed about this board is how light it compares to other boards. At 9.6kg it is very easy to carry and pick up. I compared it to several other manufacturers’ boards in similar lengths and it was by far the lightest.
First thing was to set up the fins. It comes with a tri-fin set up, with the option of turning it into a quad fin, fish like set up. There are blanking plates for the unused fins slots. The side fins and the blanking plates fitted in really easily via a screw through the deck, all very secure and well thought out. Next I needed to put in the centre fin and I had been warned that the fin box was very tight. It was, I have seen a friend using a rubber hammer to whack the fin into the box, but I was slightly hesitant to go down that road with my new board. After a bit of work with some sand paper it fitted in perfectly and I was ready to go.
The next stage was to get into the water, it was an interesting experience. My first session was in 2-3ft surf and 35 knots onshore wind. It was very hard work for my first time out on this board. A certainly not ideal condition to get used to the shorter length, my previous board was 10’6’’ C4. Being honest I did not get used to paddling a narrower and lower volume board on that session and I spent a lot of time on my knees paddling and not standing up due to the wind, however I caught some waves and this really was the point of the exercise. The next couple of sessions the wind had dropped and I got used to paddling the board and finding the correct balance point.
So how does the Electric 9’11’’ surf ?
Since that first session I have been out about six or seven times in the surf and I have got a good feel for the board. It is a very loose board, it is easy to crank tight turns and it feels very responsive. The balance of the board under your feet on wave just feels natural, it does not have a really thick nose or tail, it really reminds me of my 9’1’’ longboard. I described it to a friend as the first SUP board I have ridden that I can visualise what manoeuvre I want to do and then do it. If I want to smack the lip I can, if I want to float the section I can. All my previous boards, although they had strengths, did not achieve this for me. In fact this board is really pushing my stand up paddle surfing, and will be for some time.
I had one shore break session in good head height waves and that’s when the board really opened up for me. The local shore break demands respect on bigger days, the section chases you down very quickly and if you are not careful you will end up getting rolled up the stones. The Electric handled it very well I was able to set a line on the wave and it had plenty of speed to get me going. The board feels light under you feet and you are able to trim it really easily. I had a couple of foam ball floaters where I was hanging over the back of the board using the paddle to save me from falling off and the Electric was forgiving enough to let me get away with it.
I have taken this board out on flat water at the NEC outdoor show on a lake. It was really easy to paddle around, a lot of people demoed the board and seemed to get on OK with it. I probably would not use it for a distance flat water paddle though as it is too short and the volume is too low for me.
This board is really well made. It flew off Simon’s roof rack and dinged my car in very strong winds, the board survived with a small scratch of paint removed, the car has three big fat dings in it. So there you go Renualt vs GONG, GONG wins. The rails are made with extra epoxy material, so if you do get paddle dings they do not cut to the foam and the water proof integrity of the board is not affected. The board comes with deck grip installed and it has been fine, very good traction and the “step” on the tail of the deck grip is a nice touch.
It has two leash plugs, one on the tail and one on the top, middle, right hand side. I rigged both with some cord and I feed my paddle through them to help carry the board, which has been working well in the high winds.
This board is in its element in the waves. It allows you to really push your surfing. I would not buy this board for flat water paddling as I am too heavy at 13 stone, and I prefer longer boards for flat water paddles, but for a lighter person it would be fine. The construction is great and the lightness of the highteck construction will blow you away. This board really suits SUPers who are comfortable paddling and can surf to a reasonable standard. Beginners should stick to longer boards with more volume, but intermediate to advanced SUPers are going to love this board.