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

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Angulo Shaka 14 - Pure Magic

Saturday May 26, 2012 - A more appropriate name would be hard to imagine. The "Shaka," a world famous hand gesture and expression used by millions to convey a greeting in the Aloha spirit of peace, good will and friendship, has found it's physical expression in this magic downwind SUP. Further, the Angulo Shaka could be the best all-around stand up paddleboard on the market today.

  I came to know the Shaka looking for a downwind board of my own. I've recently discovered downwinding here on the north coast of Northern California where the strong winds howl almost daily down the coast. On a blustery day wind speeds of 25-35 mph gusting into the 40's are not uncommon. This is da kine for downwind runs.

  I don't have a lot of experience in this genre of surfing (downwinding is for sure open ocean surfing) but I've been board surfing for almost 50 years and SUP surfing and paddling since 2007. My experience is limited to paddling three different boards built for downwind runs and observing a half dozen others owned and paddled by friends. I have reviewed a number of boards on this blog and typically I don't write a review until I've ridden the board a good amount of time, but the Angulo Shaka is so amazing, so head and shoulders above what I demoed, I have to write about it now.

  I've only owned one other board that I consider "magic." A magic board, to me, is one that needs no improvement. It does what it's supposed to do almost on it's own. This is the Shaka. A good downwind board has to do one thing flawlessly and should do everything exceptionally. It flawlessly catches waves and bumps and gets glides practically on it's own. Of course the paddler has to paddle, but the ease with which it slips into the glides is nothing short of astonishing.

   A good downwind board is easily controlled in the chaos and multi-directional chop and swell that one finds in open ocean high wind conditions. There was none of the sudden yawing, where the tail comes around putting you sideways in the wave trough, that I experienced with the other boards I demoed. While many board makers are making their boards narrow, in the 26-28 inch width range (some even narrower), Ed has come up with a way to make a 30" board both stable and efficiently fast. While all are good boards, the Naish Glide 14, Jimmy Lewis M14 and C4 Vortice are narrow. 28" or less. This is just too narrow, and too unstable for me. My friends that have these narrow boards all confirm that they are a challenge to stay on when paddling. Success on downwind runs requires a board that surfs the bumps in a way that consistently links them into long glides while the rider consistently maintains control and stays on the board. This kind of success equals FUN. This is the Shaka.

  The Shaka hand gesture and saying convey good will and congeniality, in a word "friendliness." This too is the Shaka. As I wrote earlier, I am a novice at downwinding. But when I jumped on the Shaka it improved my skills ten fold. That is the sign of superior equipment and a magic board. Besides downwind, I've paddled the board in less favorable conditions. Paddling into the wind, crosswind and cross chop the board moves efficiently and directly. Especially in cross and side wind, the Shaka is more than manageable to get to your destination (Point A to Point B) without having to fight it all the way to stay on course. And again, it is so stable. Nothing seems to really upset this boards natural inclination to maintain it's balance. This factor is what leads me to believe that the Angulo Shaka 14 may just be the very best all-around family and activity SUP (not including traditional surfing) on the market today. This is a board that would accommodate the entire family, paddling in a full range of locations and activities. Oceans, lakes, rivers. streams, ponds...any body of water would suit the Shaka. Downwinding, flat water paddling and racing, training, expedition touring, taking the little ones for a ride, pleasure paddling...this again, is the Shaka.

  OK, what's the bottom line? Stand up paddleboards are expensive and this is especially true of a good SUP that will give you the kind of return on investment that has value. I demoed the Naish Glide 14 which is in the same price range as the Shaka, and the SIC Bullet which is at the high end of the price range for downwind boards. Other boards that I've had access to are the Jimmy Lewis M14 and the C4 Vortice. You can check the prices yourself, they are all listed online. My conclusion is that you'll get the best value, the best bang for your hard earned bucks, with the Shaka.

   In summary, the primary purpose of a downwind board is to ride the swells and waves that are generated by nearshore winds. It's really all about open ocean surfing, catching and riding an unlimited series of these short period open ocean waves. The Shaka does this, and all things in the downwind genre of SUP paddling and surfing as well or better than any board in it's category or class. It gets an A+ grade for excellence. Check out the Angulo website and Facebook page. Demo an Angulo and see for yourself.


Full disclosure: I am good friends with Angulo Boyz Andy, Kyle, Jens and Ed but I am in no way compensated financially or employed by them or by Angulo Designs. All my reviews are as objective as my personal opinions allow.