SUPGlobal.com's Matt Argyle has been testing the Surftech Jamie Mitchell 14ft race board and putting it through its paces. Jamie Mitchell is a legend for distance paddling and racing, both prone and SUP so we were expecting something a bit special!
My first thought was, its pink! (or red as Paul Clarke, the surftech SUP man put it). The board has a pin tail, a double concave displacement hull and a carry handle. The construction is a carbon/tufflite mix and it did feel like a very light board for its size. The fin has been designed by Jamie Mitchell and really worked well with this board. At no stage did it feel too short or too long so it looks like SurfTech and Jamie have got it spot on. The board is, obviously, 14ft long, 6 inches thick, 28 inches wide and 273 litres volume.
How did we test the Surftech Jamie Mitchell 14ft?
I took the board through the small surf line and paddled for about 1/4 mile into wind, then returned to the beach on a downwinder, picking up the small swells as we went. I did this a number of times to get a feel for the board. Then I paddled it side on the wind for about 1 mile on a triangular course. I tried it at a comfortable crusing speed and at an all out paddle race speed.
So what was it like?
As soon as I got the board in the water (and got over the pinkness of it) I realised that I was on something special. The harder you paddle the board, the faster it goes, it glides really well and picked up swells nicely on the downwinder back in. Upwind it sliced throught the chop really well, the bow shape seemed to cut through the waves without losing a significant amount of speed.
Although it is a narrow board it was exceptionally stable, the deck has grip across it and a slight concave that you can rest your feet on if you feel unstable, but it was not an issue for me, and the conditions were quite choppy.
There is quite a lot of volume to this board, but is felt like it was distributed evenly so there was not need to move around excessively to balance nose against tail. The pin tail made the release through the water really smooth, it felt as if there was no resistance and it seemed to glide beautifully.
Despite (or because of ;)) its pinkness I loved this board from the moment I got on it. If I had to buy a new 14ft board in 2011 (I do, I do!) this would certainly be high up on my list.
UPDATE MAY 2011
I have just been told that this board was a prototype - I am not sure if this is accurate or not so I have sent an email in to Surftech asking some questions about whether the construction and finish is going to be the same on the production boards. This board weighed in at 12.7kg on our digital scales, so lets hope that the production versions are the same. Something else I noticed, as I managed to get the board out again for a longer session, is that the board does not have a leash plug, which is something of an issue if you want to race as some races insist on leashes.
UPDATE JULY 2011
Disappointingly I got no reply from the Surftech guys, but I have since purchased this board as it impressed me so much, the board has performed really well, and I scored a second place on it at a local SUP race, so it is as quick as I hoped. I can confirm that is does not have a leash plug - which is a major draw back, and something I am going to have to do something about, and it does not come with the sexy Jamie Mitchell fin - it ships with a crappy, heavy, black fin, which looks like a Surftech cheap stock SUP fin to me. This is a shame.
Despite that overall this is a fantastic board and I recommend it if you want a fast race shape that is also fun on downwinders (if slightly tippy) and great on flat water.