Check out the all new 2018 Flatwater 14′ Race Pro, a new design and shape that came to fruition thanks to head designer Charles Bertrand, brand manager Belar Diaz and pro racer Josh Riccio, who has been using the board this season with tremendous success.

The feedback has been great and people have been asking for more which is why we wanted to do an in depth review with Josh on the ins and outs of our 2018 Flatwater Race Pro. The new baord comes in two width 23.5 and 25.5 and is clearly designed for the Elite paddlers who want to go fast and win races.

Josh 14′ FW Race Pro Interview

What are the features of the new 14’ do you like most?
One of the biggest things I like about this board is it’s strength to weight ratio, the 2018 F-One 14’ Race Pro is one of the lightest race boards out there, making the board very easy to sprint and accelerate from 0 to top speed in fewer strokes then other race boards I have used or tried in the past. The lightweight makes the board really responsive to your stroke, which I feel gives me more gears to work with during a race, the board responds well to both a short-fast sprint stroke and a deeper and longer power stroke. Sometimes my body is feeling the deeper power stroke and other times my muscles are feeling the faster short stroke, so I really like how the board reacts well to both types of paddle strokes. I have been on many sups and Oc-1’s (outrigger canoe) that definitely limit you to just one type of stroke. Once your muscles have burned up from that stroke you really don’t have any way to give your muscles some relief without dropping your pace. In what conditions do you think the board performs the best? The 2018 F-One Race Pro, was designed with the intentions of racing it in 3 of the most competitive races in the sport, Carolina Cup, Gorge Paddle Challenge, and Pacific Paddle Games. So the board needed to be versatile in all conditions ranging from flatwater, surf, upwind, and downwind. It’s relative low volume in the nose with the slight belly (displacement) underneath makes the board very versatile for all conditions, it runs fast in the flatwater, catching and sitting in other paddlers drafts takes very little effort which gives me a great opportunity to rest and recover before making a move on someone. The piercing nose performs very well when grinding upwind, because its low volume allows the nose to cut through wind chop/bumps instead of slapping over them or plowing into the chops and breaking your rhythm. The wider tail on the board produces parallel rails which gives the board more overall stability, and performs buoy turns very easily.

Photo: Nick Taylor

Board comes in 2 sizes, 23.5 and 25.5, what will be the typical racer picking one or the other size?
I’m 5’9” 170lbs (77kg) and really like the 23.5” size, for me there is plenty of stability in this size/volume which makes it the fastest option for me, however I have friends who are similar in size and stature to me and really like the 25” because it’s extra inches and stability allows them to put more energy into their stroke and less effort on balancing. Both sizes are fast, so as a rule of thumb if your bigger then me you’ll probably like the 25” more because the extra volume and width under your feet will let you paddle more efficiently which is usually faster. I really think the ladies are gonna love the low volume of the 23.5” because the average female paddler usually weighs 25-50lbs less than the dudes, so the low volume and low weight F-One Race Pro will suit female paddlers really well. Unfortunately a lot of race boards are seemingly designed to suit the average male 6’0” 200lbs so I see a lot of girls on race boards that aren’t proportionate to their size, even though they may be riding a 23” wide board there’s still way too much volume in the board making it to heavy/big for most girls.

And then more technical… Why is the concave stopping rather and transforming onto a flatter bottom? Because this board was designed to cover such a wide range of conditions, the nose needed to have a slight displacement to perform better in the bumps when downwinding and also to move more efficiently through side chop and upwind conditions. If the concave kept running up to the nose past the handle it would make rail steering more difficult which is crucial for many race scenarios especially for downwinding.

A deeper concave does not help with even better stability?
Yeah ofcourse the deeper concave is gonna add stability in most cases, however it will make rail steering more difficult, and although it is adding stability, I think the deeper concave makes the average pace of the board slower in the long run, because you need to really pump the board with your legs to utilize that design feature (concave) so while sprinting on these type of bottoms might be faster, it requires a lot of energy which only makes it good for short sprints, but in a distance race your going to have to work harder to maintain the same pace as other boards.

What are the design features in the 2018 FW board that distinguish it from previous models, such as 2017 14 x 2015 14′ x 26″, or 2016 14′ x 24″?
The 2018 F-One Race Pro has less volume throughout the entire board especially in the nose when compared to the 2017 F-One Race Pro. The new 2018 model is therefore lighter simply due to the lower volume. Another big difference can found on the bottom of the board, where we introduced a slight concave or tunnel running from the tail up to about the handle. The new concave/tunnel I believe has improved the Race Pros sprinting ability as well as making it easier and more stable during buoy turns.

How is it different from the 2018 DW board?
The main difference between the 2018 Flatwater Race Pro and Downwind Race Pro is that instead of having a concave/tunnel bottom extending from the tail of the board, the Downwind Race Pro features a “V” bottom starting around the fin box running to the back of the tail which has been pulled in, the “V” bottom in the tail allows the board to easily be steered from the tail in the bumps, allowing the paddler to make quick direction changes to connect bumps with little effort to do so.

What kind of testing do you do when designing or evaluating the boards?
Anytime I’m testing a new board for the first time, I typically just like to leisurely paddle the board around for 30-60minutes before increasing the intensity, the reason for this is because I like to get a feel for the board and get used to the sensitivity in the rails before going hard. If possible I like to bring out a race board that I already know well so I can make comparisons and see how the new shape is working. After that first time on the board, I’ll typically go for a maliko run if it is a downwind shape I’m testing out, or do an interval workout if it is a flatwater board.

Do you do any testing where you control time, stroke rate, and HR and compare how far you go with different boards?
Yeah I personally enjoy having data and numbers to support the design process and evolution. I like testing my flatwater boards by doing 100 meter sprints and comparing the average sprint times between the two boards, but I must admit I mainly rely on what I feel when testing boards, rather than just focusing on the numbers from my GPS. A large part of this is because in Maui the ever changing current and tides make speed, stroke and heart rate testing difficult because the conditions are not consistent enough to accurately rely on the data from your GPS to help determine what is board faster. I almost always record my sessions with a speed coach or gps watch so I try to make my design decisions based on a combination of my perceived effort of the boards performance along with the data from my speed coach or GPS.