Rider: John Hadley
Board: F-One 2017 Race Pro 14’ x 27”
Where can’t the F-one 14’x27″ Race Pro be used? In an effort to answer that question, I test drove the board for a few weeks along California’s north coast. Conditions ranged from flat water racing to overhead beach break to open ocean downwinding to heading down river. I’d say I covered the bases. The functional stability cannot be understated. If there is a bump on the water, this board will find it. In flat water, I found myself picking up every little bit of moving water, a rare treat.
Since it worked so well in flat and choppy race conditions picking up waves, I figured a day at the beach would really test this board. From the first wave, it felt built for small, fun surf. Waist high peelers got the board moving at a nice clip and the paddle back was a breeze. The highly forgiving nose shot through the white wash like it was nothing. Seventy-five waves later, I was satisfied and dog tired. But that was only waist high surf. Would it work in real waves?
A few days later, I had walked down to the beach with my regular surf SUP and then sat and watched it. It was a touch crunchy on the inside with waves popping all around the beach. On the outside, overhead waves dotted the lineup. For ten minutes, I hemmed and hawed and then the decision was made. In a flash, I swapped boards and was shooting through the Ocean Beach (San Francisco) like conditions. I was a little tentative at first considering the wave size and my board size, but one wave in and it was game on. I slid into waves like I was getting dropped off a jet ski, only instead of a tow board, I had 14′ of performance carbon under my feet. The thinking would be that the narrow, pulled in tail would make it tough to turn the board, but before I knew it I did an actual cutback. Fifty waves later I concluded that it works just fine in overhead surf.
Next up was downwind conditions; Tomales Bay at 30+ mph was a given and a good testing ground. Just like the races, all I needed to do was spot a wave and it was on. (I did encounter a weakness with the board at this point: Buoy turns into the wind are very difficult with the high-volume nose. Then again, turning anything into that much wind is difficult Why I was turning upwind would be the real question). The test run was great which meant the next real test was up, open ocean.
The winds had kicked up to 30 with gusts to 40, so the next logical step was to find out how this gem went in 6-10’+ seas. Fine. Fine. Fine. A board that picks up little bumps in the bay does the same on the ocean only now the waves get connected and larger as you pick up speed. With the stability of the board, side chop wasn’t even a consideration unless I was using it to get into another wave. For 15 miles, it was glide after glide, running up and down the board to connect waves and turn into others.
The day after the downwind run, I headed down the rather passive, class 1+ Russian River. With full banks and no rocky hazards to consider, there was little question in making it down in one piece. Oddly, on these little river runs it’s easy to find yourself getting toppled over by little side currents and whirlpools, but not on this board. Instead, you just slide right through letting the nose do all the work before the rails engage. With otters and turtles spotted along the river, the eight-mile trek was a perfect end to three weeks of board testing.
I’m sure there are places this board can’t be used, such as hiking El Cap or in the shower, but those are places you wouldn’t normally consider using a 14′ SUP anyway. If, however, there is a body of water and you want to paddle it, then this board will work – no matter the conditions. It’s a work horse that works for you and with you.
Learn more: 2017 F-One Race Pro Series