Da Boyz and I got together on a Saturday morning to demo three Bark racing/distance SUPs. I rented a Surftech 12-6 Bark Competitor (Tuflite) from Covewater, Andy brought his Surftech 14' Dominator (Pro Elite) and Sam had his 14' Bark custom. There was a building north wind blowing down coast and this would prove to be a good day to paddle and demo all three boards in somewhat difficult conditions.
We met at Andy's house, only a couple blocks from the beach, and walked our boards down to the launch site. At 9AM the smallish pocket cove was calm, but you could see the wind line just outside the point. And further outside that the white caps were starting up. I was hoping the seas wouldn't get too frothy and the wind wouldn't crank up to gale force. This was supposed to be a test/demo to evaluate the boards not "Survivor."
The video tells most of the story. (Sorry for some of the excessive wind noise.) We did get a good demo in, and it was an excellent opportunity to evaluate all three boards. Here's what I learned. 1) Joe Bark makes very good paddleboards and Surftech has parlayed their partnership into a real quality and value boon for the consumer. 2) I really like wide tail boards, for surfing and for distance paddling. When shaped correctly, wide tails create stability without sacrificing speed. Period. 3) Since I'm not going to be a full on competitive racer, I don't need a super light (carbon) board. I'd rather have something more durable that I can "throw around" a little and not worry about having to repair. 4) The combination displacement hull/planing hull shape of the Competitor is the most efficient design for my needs which are distance/fitness paddling nearshore and in the open ocean, participating in downwind events and transiting the surf line. 5) The 12-6 Competitor is the best "one size fits all" board out there for me at 64 years old and in the 150-155 lbs. weight range.
The Angulo boards ran a close second, but I'm not ready for a carbon race board and the 14' Shaka doesn't fit me as well as the 12-6. If the Shaka came in 12-6 it would have been a more difficult decision because the quality and the build of the Angulos are impressive. But in the end it was the plan shape, the displacement/planing hull (and wide tail) that won me over.
So after all the evaluations and the board demos I went ahead and ordered a 12-6 Bark Competitor from John at Freeline. Arrival date is Friday May 27. First paddle date is set for Saturday, an entry level downwinder from Natural Bridges to the Harbor, about 4.5 miles. I am so stoked!