We tested the SBS Widow Maker 8’3” back in 2015 (check it out on SUPM’s website). As the brand continues to evolve and add more sizes/shapes to its range we got hold of the biggest in the WM line to put through its paces.
The 9’1” comes in similar looking wood reveal livery with five fin boxes allowing it to be tuned for conditions. At 32” wide it’s certainly stable but don’t be fooled into thinking this is to the detriment of performance. Even before a wave has been ridden you can feel the WM’s loose attributes beneath your feet.
Supplied FCS fins were pretty good and as a quad set up the 9’1”’s tracking is fine. To improve this, and therefore get out to the peak earlier (or paddle any distance), a thruster configuration with larger centre skeg helps. But obviously, changing fins will alter surfing performance. For the most part we stuck with quads.
Standing away from the tail, towards the middle, ensures composure is kept whilst waiting for your wave, even in choppy conditions. Once spotted a couple of swift strokes gets the WM up to speed. Accurate foot placement is needed at this point to keep the board trimming flat thereby ensuring as efficient drop in as possible. Having picked up the wave riders can the step back, setting a rail as they do so.
Speed down the line is cracking and those quad fins do bite. It’s a simple process of banging in a bottom turn and red lining back up to the lip. Even with such a voluminous board underfoot manoeuvres can be fairly critical. Vertical hits are possible as are full on roundhouse cutbacks back into the pocket, the Widow Maker’s speed coming back into play having finished off your move.
While the WM 9’1” works fine in smaller conditions it actually likes a bigger more open face to play with. If you enjoy full rail carves and racing sections down the line it’s an efficient SUP for this. Offshore bombies and points would be especially rewarding. For tight pocket manoeuvring quick paddle strokes and rider pro-activity are needed. That said it’s still a rewarding SUP to ride in the types of conditions most paddlers come up against. Bigger boned riders will find it a good fit for wave sliding purposes.
The brothers Snell are onto a winner with their Widow Maker range. Depending on the type of SUP surfing performance you’re after will dictate what size you ultimately plump for. SBS’s 9’1” tested here would suit bigger boned individuals looking for an all water surf SUP or those who can access slightly bigger waves that may lie offshore or clean reef/point breakers. For onshore beach break mush the smaller sizes will be a better bet. Smaller SUPers will find a degree of flat water performance with this model. Also a great price for a hard surf SUP.