The 14′ Surftech Joe Bark Expedition Board Review

I have been asked by a number of people what i think about my Surftech Joe Bark Expedition board. I recently wrote a response to a fellow SUPer in So Cal so i thought i would copy my response here so others can see it.

“To start with, I love my JoeBark Expedition board. I was sponsored by Surftech and given the Bark Expedition to take on my 400km SUP down the coast of BC on my Standup4greatbear trip. The board was amazing and it performed incredibly well for the variable ocean conditions i experienced. I feel it is the best board out there right now for expeditions and touring. I have not even tapped the potential of the board in downwinders but i have surfed some strong outflow winds here in Squamish and it’s performance was pretty amazing. This board does everything well………cruise, tour, carry gear, surf, downwind race and general racing if your not trying to compete with guys who are on race boards. It’s also a great training and fitness tool. With SUP being a multi-discipline sport it’s at a point where you either need a board for every discipline or one board that does everything well. Most of us can’t afford that but in 2011 I will be paddling Molokai and will return to the Battle of the Paddle with Surftech race boards. I paddle a 12 1″ Laird board in surf and general lake paddling but whenever i get on the ocean or compete in “recreational” racing, anything downwind, or big training runs, I am rockin my Expedition Bark. I will be running more big Standup4Greatbear Expeditions this summer and JBX will be coming with me. After the board carried me 400kms safely down the coast I feel pretty connected to it. There is a lot more for this board to see on the coast and throughout NorthAmerica. Nothing can replace the feeling of comfort and safety on the ocean. The JBX is just solid.

On a racing front, you cant look at the Bark Ex. as a race board…..its like its namesake says……Expedition…..and as far as i can see this board is it on the coast. As I said, you can race it and i feel i could hold my own against most boards, even decent paddlers on race boards but when your competing against the best in the world then you need the best equipment or its apples and oranges…….it’s just that different. I would race the Bark competitor in the 12 6″ class and the Joe Bark Dominator or Surftech Jamie Mitchell Lahui Kai in the 14′ class but neither of these boards would paddle as well as the Expedition in big or challenging coastal conditions. I like the challenge though of beating people on race boards with my Expedition. The JBX has a planing hull with great nose rocker for those downwind days or surf days and although its not a displacment hull it is more like a planing hull/displacement hull hybrid due to its efficient speed. On my last expedition I was on 4 hour crossings and it allowed me to hammer when conditions were flat which is key to safety on the big water. Move light, move fast, move far. I have some youtube videos from the expedition and you can see the board in action. I also paddled in ridiculous windchop, side swell mayhem and made it through but it really challenged me. And when there was any swell or wind chop behind me, the board took off. The Bark board is the one that sits in the back of the room while all the other boards pose around and then when the s#$% hits the fan on the ocean JBX shines. You will not be disappointed if you invested in this board. This board inspires confidence on the water.The only thing I would make sure about is that the decking goes right to the back of the board so when you step back on it to surf or downwind then your good to go. Right now i have short decking and when i step back my back foot slips…….so what i am doing right now is just waxing behind the decking but i will cover the back of the board with more decking. The Bark is a serious coastal board and a board that represents and handles the moods and power of Mother Ocean. I am totally confident taking my Bark any where on any ocean in any condition. It has a surf fin on it right now but i am going to replace the stock fin with a Futures Fins 10″ Weed or one of their downwind fins. That way the board will not get hung up in any kelp that I run into on the coast or when surfing. I had a chance to check out these fins and a number of other ones at the Future Fins booth at the Battle of the Paddle this year. They are incredible fins, have amazing technology and they are working with some of the top paddlers in the world like Gerry Lopez and Jamie Mitchell. I will have this fin on for my upcoming 2011 expeditions.

I have also started to run commercial expeditions with Mountain Surf Adventures in the Great Rainforest and brought my Bark Expedition up for that and I could not keep people off the board. One gentleman upon returning home to Calgary bought one immediately. I was happy to have guests on it since it paddles so well and is so efficient yet stable. If i could have a fleet of these for my upcoming expeditions i would. The board has multiple attachment points for gear and comes with a handle on each rail that can also be taken off or moved to a different location on the board. The deck pad is comfortable on feet.

Lastly, this board and any Surftech Tuflight board is incredibly durable. This board has done a 400km expedition and an 8 day GreatBear Rainforest expedition, and numerous days trips along one of the most rugged and tough shorelines in the world. I have also had it on an open trailer for 3000km without a bag and it has gotten nailed by rocks and whatever else flies up off the road and it has held up amazingly well. Again i do not recommend this but i didn’t have a board bag at the time. I am hoping i can refinish this board but for now it has “battle scars” on it and “experience.” I love it. Now i waiting for some really big outflow conditions here in Howe Sound to really test the downwind capabilities.

I hope this helps people who are considering a Surftech Bark Expedition. If anyone is in Squamish or BC come on up for a test drive. See you on the water.

UPDATE: September 2011
For those who are reading this blog on the Bark Expedition, i thought i would give you a few updates. Not only did this board carry me along our coastline for the Standup4Greatbear Expedition but Bodie Shandro and i paddled it across the Molokai this past July. Although there are better boards out there to race Molokai with it was another example of the incredible versatility of this board. We crossed the channel on this board in 5hr 49 minutes. Since the Standup4Greatbear expeditions i have also completed two commercial expeditions with guests to the Greatbear Rainforest with my company Mountain Surf Adventures. Last September was the first and i bought JBX up there with me and clients spent more time on the board than i did and as a result, immediately after the expedition both clients went out and bought a Bark Expedition. As of two weeks ago as i write this i just completed the second commercial expedition and we had two Bark Expeditions and one Mickey Munoz Wateryder, basically a smaller version of the Bark. Needless to say the JBX is an amazing board for me and clients to paddle on in the Greatbear Rainforest as i need something efficient, durable, comfortable and something that can carry weight. Just more food for thought……norm

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