BEST FOR: Everything, with a nod to touring
When my morning-sick 28-year-old sister Rose, who had never stand-up-paddled before, had a chance to go out on the water on a morning with light winds, I put her on the Coastal Cruiser. About five minutes after she stood up on the board, a bottlenose dolphin surfaced in the channel ten feet away. She screamed, shuffled a couple of baby steps back, and then froze. After realizing how stable the 30-inch-wide, 5-1/4-inch-thick board was, she relaxed, and enjoyed the paddle.
San Clemente-based shaper Ron House put four decades worth of experience into designing the Coastal Cruiser, and it shows. It’s a great choice for beginners who, after shelling out more than a grand for a touring board, will probably want it to pull triple duty for surfing and longer expeditions too. On days when I went out with friends on racers, I kept up when paddling downwind. The board was mobile enough to handle sharp turns in the narrow, winding tidal creeks around James Island, and sturdy enough that the wake of passing boats in confined areas weren’t a worry. If there’s a gripe, and it’s a small one, the board doesn’t move as fast upwind on choppy days.
The 12’6 board surfs well too: The flat bottom and a sharp, rockered nose and tail seemed made for the baby waves off Folly Beach. For longer expeditions—read: tour, surf, tour, surf—there are six leash plugs for tying down gear.