17' Touring SUP Progression

It all started with an interest to create a SUP with sea kayak style hatches to carry camping gear for up to a week or longer.  SUPs currently don't have interior cargo space thus if you want to go on an overnight, all your gear has to be strapped on top.  The downside is gear shifting, wind catching the load, exposure to elements, and difficulty uprighting if the board flips over.

I also wanted a SUP which was as a fast as my sea kayak to make longer trips easier.  One could use the board for racing, fishing or casual paddles as well.  I contacted Sterling Donaldson who in turn was interested in taking the board to production once completed.  I purchased one of the first Illusion sea kayaks from Sterling and have been very satisfied with the boat ever since for all types of water.  The boat's exterior IS bombproof for a sea kayak and at 17' long is 37lbs (carbon).  I wanted that construction in a touring SUP.

I began to research SUP shapers and kayak designers. After a few bumps, I ended up with Sean Thomas, a carpenter and successful SUP racer from Issaquah, WA.  Sean listened to what I wanted but also brought in expertise from several years of racing SUPs in the Northwest.

Our first prototype was a 18 foot board we titled 'Big Blue' for it's blue toned finish.  The board is slow off the start but quickly gained speed and is easily as fast as any sea kayak. We made it 29" wide for stability since I'm 6'-5" and 230lbs.  I had issues of finding long fast boards which were stable.  I wanted a board all could use, just the most experienced racers.

After several months of tests, I surfed Big Blue in up to 5 foot surf, 35kt winds, downwinded it, upwinded it, surfed several tug waves up to 4-6' faces, raced it, and even did an epic session at Deception Pass in big standing waves.  We deciced Blue neeed some changes in order to be a successful board for me and the public.

In May 2013, Sean rolled out the Explorer, a 17' board which we presented in unfinished form at the Northwest Paddle Festival in Issaquah.  We realized 18' was too long and made the board slower. We brought in the beam 1" to gain speed withoutt losing stability, lowered the stern rocker, took some Vee out of the nose, pitched the front deck to shed water, flattened the standing deck, and raised the stern deck to add more storage.  The final design will have two main storage hatches and a 'day' hatch on the deck to access smaller items on the water.  We'll probably add a rudder system down the road.  We're currently using the Ninja fin by Larry Allison.  

If the 17' prototype is ideal, we'll use it as the plug and hand it over to Sterling to create a mould.  My hope is to be surfing it at Skook in BC alongside Sterling's other boats in the near future.

- Sean Thomas, Echo Composites, sean@echosup.com
- Sterlings Kayaks, Sterling Donalson, sterlingskayaks@msn.com

17' Prototype, unfinished.


C said…
Can't wait to see the latest version. Also there are SUPs with internal storage, you just have to build them yourself. My 14' Kaholo SUP is entirely hollow. I have one deck hatch which allows me to store a jacket, flip-flops, etc. internally. If/when I build another I plan to add additional hatches for touring.