While we totally get parallel rail concept surf SUP boards allow riders to drop a size or two, and therefore milk the benefits of more manoeuvrability, the fact is: you still need skill to pilot them. Having got past initial ‘wows’ of delivering stubby SUPs brands are now recognising ‘real world paddlers’, or progressing intermediates, need something more user friendly.
Enter Fanatic’s Stubby 8.8ft LTD perfectly demonstrating the above. Having tested 2016’s 8.6ft we couldn’t wait to hop on this baby. Fanatic’s LTD construction is high end and the board’s weight (8.45kg) makes it easy on the arms carrying back and forth. Coming with three top drawer honeycomb Futures fins (and the option of adding more with its five fin boxes), a ‘knuckles in’ carry handle the 8.8ft pleasure to wield about the beach.
Fanatic’s Stubby is extremely stable for a sub-9ft SUP. And yet, without being uber short glide is exceptional. That duck’s bill nose shouldn’t allow for efficient tracking but it refuses to come off line – great for newbie paddle surfers. It’s effortless sweeping to the peak, ample rocker climbing white water easily, all the time the Stubby’s extra inches of width helping avoid unceremonious dunkings.
The Stubby’s glide comes into play once again as it picks off waves early, dropping in smoothly and ramping up to speed quickly. At first we thought its light weight may require a more proactive approach, but not so. In the blink of an eye riders will be in the trough, ready for setting a rail or shooting off down the line.
For an 8.8ft the Stubby is extremely throw about. Advanced riders will no doubt hack, slash, punt and bash lips with the best of them – there’s no doubting the 8.8ft’s performance characteristics. In contrast, however, intermediate (or lighter) paddlers will find the Stubby a great tutor for learning the art of rail to rail surfing.
Three fins poking from the tail deliver accelerated drive off the bottom, through turns and provide enough grip in steeper sections. Riders wanting further performance in hollow swells should switch to quads for a more direct feel – although in most cases there’s really no need to change from thrusters.
You can tell from the above how much fun we had on the Stubby 8.8ft. It’s a real plug ‘n’ play surf SUP suitable for varied weights and styles. Heavyweights can unlock the secrets of parallel rail board riding, mid-weights will find the Stubby a ‘go-to’ sled for the majority of conditions whereas lightweights will love its manoeuvrability. If you want a performance SUP, but don’t want to go down the ProWave route, then this is your baby (out and out beginners would do better with the AllWave range). Fanatic’s finish and attention to detail is right up there – the only minor point we’d add is the 8.8ft can pick up knocks and dings pretty easily so be careful with it. It was a shame we had to give it back though…