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Off ya (SUP) rocker! – why some stand up paddle board noses sweep up more than others.

Pic: Steve Nelson

We’ve seen a few paddlers asking about SUP board shapes and why some have a more upturned nose than others. As any seasoned paddler will tell you it doesn’t just stop there. Stand up paddle board shapes and designs vary massively, depending on their intended use and what the shaper’s interpretation of those uses are. For this article, we’re just talking about nose rocker and how this affects SUP performance.

Most SUPs have some form of nose rocker, even if only subtle amounts. A completely flat, rockerless stand up paddle board would be super efficient across glassy, flat calm water. Unfortunately, in the majority of cases, this wouldn’t be practical. Most of us paddle in often breezy, choppy water. Whilst scoring calm conditions can occur it’s the flotsam scattered stretches that are mostly done battle with. Having some form of nose rocker allows the board’s front to hover above the chop and press on as efficiently as possible. Some touring and race boards have other design elements incorporated which allows further ‘shedding’ of water in case wavelets spill over the front.

The more pronounced the SUP‘s nose rocker the more extreme a ‘trough’ the board is designed to take on. For instance, when SUP surfing, as you drop into a wave the board needs an upturned front to avoid burying as you reach the wave’s bottom, or trough. Without rocker riders would ‘pearl’. White water river SUPs have similar characteristics.

Too much nose rocker incorporated into the wrong style of stand up paddle board can be detrimental to performance. You often see this on poorly constructed, cheap iSUPs. With a banana front the board creates windage as it pushes through the air. This in turns creates inefficient forward momentum by adding drag and making the whole process much more arduous for the paddler.

Rocker isn’t limited to the nose of a SUP board, you can find it running the entire length of some shapes. In a nutshell, however, the general rule of thumb is:

  • more nose rocker = use in more wavier environments
  • less nose rocker = better for flatter water with less chop/swell

If you have any questions about any of McConks’ shapes and why each design is as it is then get in touch.

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