G. Niblock on the L41 TipSUP Noserider. Photo: J. Chandler

Friday, March 2, 2012

Review: The Original SIMSUP S3

The S3 is the third SIMSUP surfboard in the series of Original SIMSUPs. It is the lightest, fastest and most maneuverable of the three iterations of the design which has borrowed heavily from the hydrodynamic principles published by Lindsay Lord (The Naval Architecture of Planing Hulls), then adapted to surfing first by Bob Simmons and modernized in the "Mini-Simmons" by John Elwell, Joe Bauguess and Richard Kenvin. After surfing my own 5' 11" Freeline (John Mel) Mini-Simmons surboard, I realized the benefits of a short (maneuverable) but wide tail (stable) surfboard for surfing and paddling. I wondered if the design and principles could be adapted to a SUP? I presented the idea to L41 Surfboards designer/shaper Kirk McGinty who enthusiastically accepted the challenge and the Original SIMSUP was conceived.

The Original SIMSUP or S1 was the prototype. Would it work? The answer was a resounding Yes! The S2 model added more performance, better turning and maneuverability which improved the board's surfability while maintaining a short and very stable paddling SUP. The S3 added even more performance enhancements which yielded the best performing SIMSUP of the three.

The dimensions of all three SIMSUPs remain basically the same with the exception of volume. The board is 8' X 30.25" X 4.5". Volume in #1, #2 and #3 are 129L, 127L and 125L respectively. The S3 has more dynamic s-rails, double bumps (which decreases tail width incrementally in two steps by two inches in total) and is the lightest of the three SIMSUPs weighing in at just 15 pounds (vacuum bagged). The S3 is not a beginners board. It is designed and built for someone who is a better than average SUP surfer and has spent time in the water paddling and surfing a SUP.

While the board is a very stable SUP, it is less stable than the other two SIMSUPs by reason of it's slightly reduced volume, pulled in tail and more radical s-rails. While these performance elements cause the board to be a bit more difficult to paddle than #1 or #2, the offsetting increase in performance and maneuverability is exceptional and worth the trade-off.

Generally the same can be said for the difference between S1 and S2. The S2 is slightly more difficult to paddle than the S1, and is more maneuverable than S1. The difference lies in how long it took me to adapt to the change. It took about 30 minutes for me to feel completely comfortable on the S2. It took several sessions for me to get as comfortable on the S3 as I felt on S2. But again, the performance enhancement was radically increased on the 3.

Three elements working together make the S3 a fantastic success. The k-rails (aka s-rails) are much more like surfboard rails than SUP rails therefore it is easier to sink them (weight) and un-sink (un-weight) them for effect. And the result is a SUP surfboard that goes rail to rail with ease. The spiral vee bottom configuration also allows for easier rail-to-rail transitions. Now add the double bump (wing) tail which gives the S3 an additional two pivot points and you have a board that redirects quickly without losing speed or bogging down.

There is a reason why professional surfers want their boards to be as light as possible. Lighter weight equals enhanced performance. For them durability is not an issue, light weight is what they want. We adapted that lightweight principle to S3 by utilizing a glassing technique known as vacuum bagging. Simply stated, this technique reduces weight by reducing the amount of resin used in the glassing process. Again, decreased weight leads to greater maneuverability and performance. Done correctly, vacuum bagging does not reduce durability, but it does cost more than conventional glassing.

There haven't been any major design changes in bottom configuration for the series. Kirk hit a grand slam with his initial design which incorporates a displacement hull for paddling with a planing hull for surfing. Catching waves with the S3 is ridiculously easy. I rarely miss what I go for. This simply has not been any kind of an issue. Would it be "faster" to paddle a longer board back to the line-up after the ride is over? Perhaps, but again, this has not been an issue. Actually, I rather enjoy a more leisurely paddle out the back. My normal wave count has not been affected. The only "negative" regarding paddling that I have experienced is that the S3 is a bit more tippy than #1 or #2 because the s-rails are a bit more dished or scooped out. This thinner rail has a tendency for water to more easily wash over it from side chop which can push the rail down more than on the S1 (which does not have s-rails) and S2 (which has more conservative s-rails). So yes, S3 is more tippy but the increased performance is a more than acceptable trade-off.

Planing speed is reached in what seems like an instant, there is no lag, no drag, it just takes off. Brad's (check the video of him riding my S3 for the first time) first comment on the beach after his first sesh was, "this thing is so fast, we've got to find a way to slow it down." But he also demonstrates in the video how easy it was for him to redirect the board, placing it in the best part of the wave and surfing with speed and stability. In addition to hard, sharp rails in the tail section, Kirk added Future Controller quad fins which allow for minimal drag and maximal holding ability on steep, critical faces.

Basically I love this board. It is my go-to SUP for wave riding whether it be at the beaches or point breaks. I've surfed it in small mushy waves and double overhead down the line speedsters and I have never been disappointed. It is fast, maneuverable and not hard to paddle once you get used to the enhanced s-rail. I've waited a while before reviewing this board for a couple of reasons. 1) I wanted to put a lot of time in on the board so I could review the board's positives and negatives. 2) I wanted others to ride it so I could hear their feedback and wouldn't get a stilted, one-sided perspective. 3) I wanted to ride it in all the conditions and wave heights I normally surf. At the very least, everyone who has ridden the SIMSUP series comes away surprised and with a different view of what they thought the board would be like. To look at the board is counter-intuitive to how it surfs. The board changes minds and re-configures preconceived notions of what SUP surfboards can be all about.

The S3 is a fast, stable, maneuverable and high performance SUP surfboard.

Click here to see the full S3 slideshow on

1 comment:

  1. I have always been interested in the mini simkons as a surfer. Recently I have staryed sup and now I have an All Wave. Wanna step it in performance. Thanx for the great review qnd I am very interested in this shape because of the conditions here on aruba.