When it comes to solid paddle boards, the technology can vary greatly, and a seemingly simple, aerodynamic shape can completely change your experience on the water. Whether you are a complete beginner looking to get on the water for the first time or a seasoned long-distance ocean paddle board maniac, this article is going to give you a rundown on which board style makes the most sense for you in any given condition.
WHY THE HULL MATTERS
Our CEO, Corey Cooper, has designed every board since the beginning, dating back to 2008 when he realized the best paddle boards didn't exist yet and founded a little company called BOTE. As a mechanical engineer, he loves the details we all hate. So he modified every element of what was out there in the SUP world intending to create hard paddle boards built for performance, starting with the hull.
It goes without saying that if you're an outdoor hobbyist, your board choice needs to be different than the surf paddle board addict's. To help you find the best paddle board for your lifestyle, we're going to walk through our two hull styles for solid paddle boards. In the process, we will also cover our four core hard paddle board designs so you can understand how different technology is built into each board in the BOTE lineup and how it will react to various water activities.
Visual learner? Watch our Facebook Live video with BOTE CEO, Corey Cooper.
Let's dive in.
OUR CEO, COREY COOPER, HAS DESIGNED EVERY BOARD SINCE THE BEGINNING, DATING BACK TO 2008 WHEN HE REALIZED THE BEST PADDLE BOARDS DIDN'T EXIST YET AND FOUNDED A LITTLE COMPANY CALLED BOTE.
PLANING VS DISPLACEMENT
There are two basic solid paddle board hull types: planing and displacement. The planing hull has been around for a while, and it serves a lot of purposes. The displacement hull, by contrast, was only used on fast, skinny race SUPs. We were the first to take that technology and apply it to recreational paddle boards.
Planing Paddle Board Design
A planing hull is flat and wide, which makes it an excellent choice for recreational paddling, yoga, and fishing. The bottom of the board is double concave but predominantly flat, which allows it to flow through the water more efficiently as a surf paddle board. You'll find this hull style on the Flood.
Displacement Paddle Board Design
A displacement hull has a pointed nose that allows the board to cut through the water efficiently. Displacement style hulls are the best paddle boards for fitness, extended paddling, and fishing. From a design perspective, starting in the middle of the board it transitions from the traditional surf style hull with the double concave bottom to a more displacement style hull. At the front, there's a prominent nose, which displaces the water around the board. This hull style is applied to the HD, Rackham, and Traveller.
THE BOTE SOLID PADDLE BOARD LINEUP
First up is the Flood. Our heritage board and what started everything at BOTE. The hull shape can be called either planing or surf style. In addition to the predominantly flat bottom of the board, it has a nose rocker to allow it to ride smoothly above the water. I'm sure you are asking what the hell is a "nose rocker"; it's the shape you see when looking at the profile of the board. The more rocker it has, the more it will resemble the shape of a banana. When sitting in the water this is what makes the nose of the board rest out of the water while the remainder of the board is in the water
Why Choose the Flood?
The Flood is the perfect entry-level, all-around board, because it can do a lot of different things well. At its core it's representative of standup paddle boards, the Flood is our model that embodies the holistic vibe from the surf side to the flatwater paddling.
It paddles really well in the flat water, and unlike the other BOTE models, it's the best surf paddle board we offer, especially the 10'6.
The HD hull design was the third model to come after the Flood. Logically, it looks like it would be the next design; but it came from the experience of building skinny, extremely unstable, and fast race boards. We took the best technology from the race boards and applied it to a fishing board, introducing the first displacement SUP that can be used for more than just racing.
From designing and developing the race boards there was one thing we knew we wanted to implement into the recreational boards; that was the displacement style bow entry. The HD was the first solid paddle board we made to feature this new concept hence the name HD, short for Hybrid Displacement. Starting in the middle of the board it transitions from the traditional surf style hull with the double concave bottom to a more displacement style hull where you have the bulbous nose sitting in the water and displacing the water around the board.
Why choose the HD?
The great thing about having the displacement style hull is that it paddles exceptionally well in both flat water and open ocean water. The nose is going to help the board ride smoother and track straighter (you will be able to take more paddle strokes on one side instead of having to constantly switch back and forth to go straight). The board isn't going to paddle as well as the Flood in the surf, but for the intended application, for general recreational paddling, fishing, sunset cruises, and just generally having a good time paddling, this is the best all-around board we make.
The Rackham is our fishing and expedition board. If you're looking at fishing as your main activity, then this is the best paddleboard for you. You can load it up with tons of gear, and it will still perform great in the water.
It has the same heavy displacement bow design as the HD but also more defined, sharper rails down the side. This gives it more stability, so it won't tend to "roll" as much as a board with round rails like the HD and the Flood.
"Believe it or not the Rackham and the HD are both 32 inches wide", says BOTE Board CEO / Lead Designer Corey Cooper. "It's really the sharper edges and the overall thickness of the board that makes it appear wider."
If you look down the tail of the Rackham you will see a more squared-off profile and flatter edges. This allows the board to be significantly more stable in any paddling conditions. With added stability and buoyancy, the Rackham is a heavier, thicker board than you'll find with the Flood or HD.
"BELIEVE IT OR NOT THE RACKHAM AND THE HD ARE BOTH 32 INCHES WIDE", SAYS BOTE BOARD CEO / LEAD DESIGNER COREY COOPER. "IT'S REALLY THE SHARPER EDGES AND THE OVERALL THICKNESS OF THE BOARD THAT MAKES IT APPEAR WIDER."
Why choose the Rackham?
These features are great in any fishing or expedition scenario, but the Rackham is an ocean paddle board fishing machine since these waters can be a little rougher. If you are looking at getting into standup paddle fishing and want to focus on it, then the Rackham in the perfect platform for you.
The Traveller is our touring class board. It was initially designed and built for a rugged 100-mile trip through the everglades, but since then, we have modified it into a sleek and stealthy adventure board while keeping the performance elements. While it may look the part, don't confuse this board with its cousin, the race board. This board was created for a variety of different applications, lifestyles, and experience levels. You do not have to be a professional to ride the Traveller.
Like the other displacement models, it has a flat-concave bottom than transitions into a displacement hull with a bulbous nose. It has rounded rails that help it flow through the water more efficiently than the Rackham with its square rails.
"Open water paddling on this board is really cool," describes lead designer Corey Cooper, "especially when you are piercing through the waves and water comes up over the bow and then sheds off the top surface of the deck."
This also led to the development of a recessed cockpit to move the center of gravity lower and give you a dryer place to stand while the water sheds off the top. The tail of the board is open so that any water that does make it into the cockpit will drain off the back.
Why choose the Traveller?
If you are the type of person that wants to throw on your Camelbak, put your AirPods in, and hammer out some miles, look no further. While the Traveller is more refined to longer distance and endurance paddling, it is still a great board for someone that is just getting started in paddling. If you're getting into fitness paddling but also want the ability to strap down a KULA and head to the sandbar on the weekend, you're going to love this board.
I hope you found this explanation of planing versus displacement hulls helpful for choosing your first or next BOTE. What it all boils down to is finding the best board to amp up your experience on the water. Whether you want a multi-purpose ocean paddle board for cruising and surfing or a board you can load down with fishing gear and ice-cold beer, all of our boards are designed for performance, but you might as well start with the board that best suits your lifestyle.