Stand-up paddleboards are kind of like pinewood derby cars: you can only innovate them so much.
Starboard, however, has officially pushed board tech to a new level with their All Star series of racing boards. Rather than shaping the board, they built it out layer by carbon layer, adding shape to the nose and trail while leaving the middle (where you stand) somewhat depressed.
The fatter stern and bow provide improved buoyancy, while the depression allows riders to exert pressure on the board with their feet every time they stroke the paddle. The hull also has a slight inward curve (almost like a hydrofoil) that allows the water to rush through faster and keep the board from tipping — a common problem for a board this length.
The 2017 All Star won various gear, surf and paddling awards, and according to Robb Report, the 2018 version kicks things up a notch. To wit: “It is so much more efficient [than the 2017 model] that after 50 paddle strokes, the new board will be two-to-three board lengths ahead of the 2017 version.” This owes to a more ample nose as well as a pair of side rails that keep the word stable and on course, even in choppy waters (read: the ocean).
The board comes in two editions: the Hybrid is intended for beginners, while the Carbon Sandwich (named for its extra layers) is ideal for riders who compete. Both newly revamped designs are expected to release next month.
And let's be honest: you'll probably be zipping past most fellow paddlers regardless of which you choose.