A performance touring board that is fast and fun to explore with.
I am really excited this season to be using Infinity Race and surf boards. Infinity Surf is an amazing company started decades ago by shaping legend Steve Boehne with Infinity SUP being led by the creative genius of Dave Boehne. Dave is one of the best paddle surfers in the line up and is the Speed Freak captain and head designer for the Infinity Sup division. I have always admired what the Infinity brand and the Brown Blurr has created and I feel they are progressive leaders in the high end design of race and paddle surf boards and one of the leading brands in the industry.
I had the opportunity this year to purchase a second hand custom 24” wide 2015 Blackfish. I have to say it is one of the funnest and most enjoyable boards I have ever been on. It just rips on the ocean and in variable conditions. This year Dave sent me up his custom 23.5” wide 2017 Blackfish and I am pretty blown away by its performance, speed and abilities on the ocean. I love these boards and more about that later. I also had their new 14’ Wide Aquatic Touring Board sent up to test as well.
First of all this is a beautiful looking board which doesn’t surprise me with Dave’s design abilities. My first test was a quick paddle on my home training waters on Howe Sound. It was a short upwind paddle followed by an even shorter downwind paddle. Then I took the board on our 5 Day SOAR Ocean camp with an overnight trip and the final was some flatwater sprint training in Victoria, B.C.
Volume: 318 L
This is something you expect in a touring board and is critical for expeditions and carrying gear. The Wide Aquatic is 30” inches wide and has a slightly recessed deck which adds to the stability by lowering your centre of gravity. It has a very good, diamond pattern deck with kick pad at the tail which provides support for pivot turns and down winding and ample amount of deck space for switching stances and pivoting heavy gear loads in more challenging ocean conditions. I am not a fan of any ocean touring board that doesn’t have a good 3/4 deck pad that runs right to the tail. You need to the ability to move around on your deck and it can also provide better traction for gear that may be lashed down on the back of the board. Great stability, great deck pad.
Speed Freak Fast
This may be the fastest 14’ x 30” wide touring board I have even been on. Not surprising considering it’s pedigree. This board seems to have borrowed some of the best design aspects of the Whiplash and the Blackfish. It has a pretty flat rocker similar to the Whiplash but tends to skip on top of chop like the Blackfish. The design is quite impressive and it paddles upwind really well and blasts through light chop efficiently. In the little downwinder I did the board caught waves pretty easily considering the flatter rocker. Usually flat rocker is not ideal on the ocean but with the “Blackfish Skip” this board kept impressing me with its ability to ride over the chop vs through it. The flat rocker may prove somewhat challenging as the conditions get bigger and the board takes more water over the nose but in light chop it paddles well. This is a fast, beautiful paddling board that borrows design features from its race line and is one that fitness and training clients would find just as enjoyable as the touring clients.
Pack it Up, Go Explore!
I brought the Wide Aquatic Tour up to our SOAR Ocean Camp on Quadra Island and for the first three days I just toured with a day pack on it. But on our final day we did an overnight camping trip and we loaded all the gear onto the boards. This board carries most of its volume from the nose back to just behind the feet and is designed to carry the weight up front. The tail foils which decreases the volume and does not make it as ideal for carrying weight but allows the board to pivot quickly and surf better than most touring boards. I like the latter advantages vs the lack of volume. I still think the board could have the option for some rear attachments to distribute weight in a flatwater situation. For now I had to load all the gear on the front of the board. I was not sure how it was going to handle or how stable it was going to feel. I used the attachments and the Speed Freak handle as an anchor point to lash the gear down. I had close to 50 pounds of gear on the front deck with my overnight kit, tent, emergency gear and a heavy food bag. I was surprised at how well the volume of the board supported the weight, there is ample volume in this board at 318 Litres and great volume up front to displace water and carry gear. Some touring boards just feel better fully loaded and with ballast and the Wide Aquatic Tour felt super solid and did not feel unstable at all. Actually it felt quite stable and even with all that weight up front it paddled really well and was very smooth. I liked it a lot and since it handled the weight so well up front I had the whole deck to move around. For ocean touring, the ability to move around and switch stances allows you to quickly handle the variable ocean conditions and surf you are most likely to encounter. The wind does not affect the side profile of this board as much as other thicker touring boards. The challenge with having gear on the tail of the board is that it is difficult to step back while down winding or pivot turning with a full load. Most of the time the gear in the back is right where your back foot needs to be in your surf stance so I embraced the lack of rear attachments and it now has me thinking about just keeping all of my gear up front in the future, certainly with this board. I know my kit and food can be lighter so this board should perform even better with a lighter load. I am very happy with the ability of this board to carry overnight gear and for future models I would love to see the option for some rear attachments.
Stable Training board
After a week of sup touring with loaded packs it was nice to clear the deck and run some intervals with it in flatwater. It was during these sprints where it really sunk in how well this board paddles and how responsive it is. It’s not a light board but it’s not heavy either, maybe lighter than other 14’ touring boards out there and it seemed to accelerate pretty well for a touring board. It is well constructed and can take a bump which is good on our rugged coast, there is most always a cost to lightness. I had it matched up with an FCS II Kalama touring fin and the board pivoted like a dream, yet tracked well. It was very quick and the swing weight seemed fast. It was refreshing to have the stability to really lean into the paddle stroke and I think people would be really happy with the flatwater training performance of this board.
Overall I love this touring board and I am excited to get on some bigger, longer overnight coastal runs and distance speed crossings with light kit in the near future. Hopefully Dave will have his famous Infinity SUP Vimeo video out soon for this board so you can hear from the man himself what thoughts and design went into this touring board! It’s a performance touring board that I seem to enjoy more and more each time I paddle it.