Equipment will be key at the Pacific Paddle Games, presented by Salt Life, October 10-11 at Doheny. Racing through the surf is a specialized skill that takes both stamina and technique. Having the right board for the job definitely helps. The following is what you need to know about equipment at #PPG2015.
Board length. Pro males will ride 14' boards throughout the event and Pro females will ride 12'6". Race organizers decided on this for simplicity's sake. One board for all the pros in all the races. It levels the playing field and doesn't divide up the Pro winners. That said, there are multiple categories in the Open divisions for people's preferences.
Rocker. Having the correct amount of rocker—the curvature at the nose and tail of the board—in surf races is crucial. It could be the difference between nose-diving and riding cleanly to the finish. It's a fine line though: too much rocker and the board will be slow during the flat sections of the courses while too little makes punching through and riding waves more challenging. Most brands have an ocean-style race board built for these types of conditions.
Nose Shape. At the recent Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City one of the emerging trends was that most brands are offering boards built with a bulbous, wave-piercing nose. While not exactly new, these boards have proven their mettle in open-ocean and surf-race conditions and will be the most common race board at PPG. They have a rocker line conducive to wave riding and the nose punches through/floats over whitewater with ease.
Width. Stability is your friend in surf races. While many racers will go a bit wider because of this, many of the Pros will go super narrow in the name of speed. These boards are tippy, yes, but advances in rail designs and and deck shape has made many of the skinniest boards relatively stable. If you're new to surf racing go with more width; if you have the need for speed look to boards designed for experts in surf racing.
Paddles. Shorter is often better for surf racing. The races at PPG are also relatively short and more technical in their design. Shorter paddles allow for quicker adjustments in the surf, around buoys and in the pack. Don't go with anything too short and risk injury but do consider dropping a couple inches, if comfortable.