SUP Gun Show: Guns the Pros Ride

"Standup paddling is a new sport," says Laird Hamilton, without a hint of deliberate understatement. "The equipment is evolving all the time. But we really need to work on our guns."

Hamilton isn't talking about his legendary biceps, but the big wave boards, the 'big guns", being ridden in even bigger waves every year. And it's clear there are plenty of SUP surfers out there doing just that.

"This year there's going to be some sick guns being made," says Maui's Kai Lenny. "Like on my 10'6, I'm going thinner, with a double concave bottom and increased tail rocker. It's a pintail, 24 inches wide, which proportional to length gives you a consistent smooth template line. And I've lowered the nose rocker—you don't need as much when you're getting into the wave earlier. All that rocker on regular guns is just to keep the nose from poking on late air drops. A lower entry rocker gives you more waterline, more speed, not only getting into the wave, but straight into that first turn."

Garrett McNamara at Mavericks | Photo: Fred Pompermayer

Garrett McNamara at Mavericks | Photo: Fred Pompermayer

NorCal shaper Jeff Clark adds a few more uncharacteristic elements to his Maverick's arsenal.

"I'm working with a chine, or beveled rail, with a tri-concave bottom," explains Clark, who along with his own quiver hews boards in the 10 to 11'6" range for guys like Haley Fiske and Ian Wallace. "The combination gives you more of a shortboard feel. My 10-foot boards look like full guns but because of the chine rail, even at 27- or 28-inches wide, they ride like narrower boards. And with the tri-plane hull they just accelerate off the bottom."

Heavyweight Dave Kalama is not only going shorter but, like his Maui mentee Lenny, thinner.

"I'm riding a 9'8" gun shape, very similar to a traditional gun, but just a bit wider and about 3 3/4" thick," Kalama says, adding, "And this is for waves starting in the four-times overhead range."

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This article originally ran in our Fall 2013 issue as “Gun Show.”

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