Gear Review: Boardworks Raven

I have had the 12 6” Boardworks Surf Raven for over a month now and I thought I would take this opportunity to do a review on its performance.

Here are the boards stats:
Height: 12’6″
Nose: 13 9/16 inches
Width: 30 3/16 inches
Tail: 15 5/8 inches
Thickness: 6 15/16 inches
Fins Included: Single Fin

First off the Raven was awarded the Men’s Journal Gear of the Year for 2011, an award which certainly piqued my interest when i picked up the mag to check out more cool things i could buy.

I am adopted into the Raven clan in Hartley Bay so I seemed to have an instant connection to the name of the board and the super cool First Nations design. The Raven certainly is a prominent bird on our coast, it’s know as the Trickster, the creator of the world by the First Nations and a super intelligent jay that has over 1000 vocalizations and knows how to use tools. They are my constant companion and secret teller when i am in the salmon streams looking for bears and wolves in the fall.

The Rainforest Green, white and black deck looks really sharp and I am sure the wood veneer model is going to look just as great. This board also comes in a 10’6″ for smaller paddlers or youth. Admiring it in my garage I noticed how thick the rails were for this displacement hull board, pretty much 7 inches thick, and I also observed how decent rockered the board was.

My first test was on a flat water lake here in Squamish. Upon stepping on the board I immediately realized how stable this board was. With the built in rocker and side to side stability I found it really easy to pivot turn this board, surprisingly so for a “displacement hull.” A step to the tail popped the nose up pretty easy. Even without wax I was able to walk to the front of the board and pivot the board, with the fin out of the water, fairly easily. Although it’s a displacement hull, it has a really flat bottom, more so like a planning hull board which adds to the stability, making, maneuvers and turns efficient. I then ran a few lengths up and down on the lake and brought it up to speed, and the Raven seemed to move well through the water. Although you can race this board the added width, nose rocker and weight does not make it an efficient flat water race board but that’s not what this board is designed for. It is 12 6” so you could race it in that class but for a more efficient flat water race board you could look to the BW Morelli and Melvin or the Ohana Race boards. It would be a better race board in the ocean if conditions were more challenging and the person racing was a beginner to intermediate paddler. These days with so many disciplines in SUP there is no one board that does everything great. On the flat water lake I could feel the boards weight a little bit in moving it forward and the added nose rocker made me tighten up the technique on my forward stroke and edge the opposite side of the board. Usually to help keep your board straight, a planning hull(surfboard), you edge the same side you paddle on but with most displacements, due the rail design and volume in the board you edge the opposite side your paddling on. Easier to show you than to explain it. Anyways, putting a bit of an edge on it helped keep it tracking straighter. Leaving the lake I was pleased.

My next test was on the ocean and i found myself getting excited to give this board a good go. A dynamic ocean is the best place to test out a boards security and insecurity, as well as a paddlers I guess. For this test I was doing my favorite coffee run from Squamish to Brittania and I had a nice little 20km wind behind me to kick up enough of a swell to make this fun and to give me an idea of how this board would perform. Well, after an hour on this board , I was really impressed with how great the Raven handled the downwind conditions and I was completely blown away with how stable the board was and how easily it surfed. It really did bring a smile to my face. I don’t even remember having to brace once. Super stable. Plus the thick rails and slightly recessed deck kept me out of the water and deflected waves really well. The nose rocker helped surf the waves well as i assumed it would from initially looking at it. I am stoked to take this board out on a really big day as I think the boards stability, weight and surf ability will shine as the conditions become tougher. To this point it has been the best board I have used on the Howe Sound to downwind. A week later I had another coffee run but this time I had the wind and waves against me and at one point there was a quartering chop. I realized that the thick rails did catch the wind and waves a little easier for sure and its volume and rocker did not allow it to penetrate efficiently through the waves in this quartering situation, head on would have been better but I did not have that option. With its thickness and volume it did tend to pitch. Although I was not as efficient in this instance I sure was stable, no problems. Most people on the ocean would prefer stability over speed in rough conditions. This board gives you a lot of confidence in an ocean environment.

Other Applications: I have been enjoying the Raven so much. Its an incredible ocean board and I have been doing all of my instructor courses with this board. Right now it is my go to board on the coast. The Raven would be amazing for big dudes on flat water but if anyone is looking to step up to the challenge of the ocean or if you spend all of your time on the ocean or larger lakes then this could be your board. I have not even begun to discuss the touring potential of this board. That will come later in the summer. It has built in recessed deck attachments and all I can think about is taking 6 of these up to the Greatbear Rainforest for my SUP expeditions. I have carried a day pack on it and you hardly know its there. You could potentially carry a weekend kit with you but i would place some wax or monster paint underneath so your pack would not slip. I have not surfed a west coast wave on this board the flat hull, rocker and stability would make this board a cinch in a surf landing. I have also had a number of people try this board out and everyone seems to like it. This is an incredibly versatile board that has many applications. This board can allow you to explore the potential of many great adventures on the water. Have fun……norm
Raven Update: I used the 12’6″ Raven for my 2012 Standfilm Expedition to Haida Gwaii, the trip was 350Km and it was absolutely amazing. This for me is the board of choice for touring. Super stable, can carry a lot of weight, can handle nasty ocean conditions and it’s durable. Check out the Standfilm Trailer on my conservation page and keep an eye out for our Standfilm movie to be released May 2013.


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