Gear Army: Wavemaster Custom Stand-Up Paddleboard

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I was a little disappointed when Wavemaster America’s CEO, Steven Moser, told me that the Waterman stand up paddleboard (at left, red board on right) I was picking up from his house in Palos Verdes, California, was not designed for surfing steep or sizable waves.

“Other people do that very well,” Moser told me. What Moser did promise, and the Waterman delivered, was comfort on long paddles as well as great versatility.

The second time I used this board I paddled for over three hours. As I reached each new visual marker along the Malibu coastline I decided I was comfortable enough to proceed to the next rock outcropping, absurdly decadent house, or pier. By the time I reached Paradise Cove, a spot two hours farther than I planned to paddle, I laid down on the board for a few minutes to pump myself up for the hour and a half of paddling separating my truck and me.

This board is shockingly light for being 12 feet long, 24 inches wide, with thick rails for stability. Wavemaster achieved this lightness by using a proprietary vacuum bagging process in which Australian hardwood is wrapped thinly around the entire board and then vacuum bagged. This compresses out any dead air space making the board efficiently light in a way that most aren't. The length coupled with the lightness made the board easy to get moving fast. The extra volume in the rails made the ride more comfortable because I had to shift my weight less to maintain balance. The stability and cushion pads on the deck really helped my feet from getting too sore on the long paddles as well. 

Wavemaster shapes each stand up paddleboard specifically for each buyer and, as a result, offers a slough of sweet accessories options. The Water Man I tested had a zig-zagging elastic rope tie down set up at the back for easy tie-on gear storage and retrieval of fins, snorkel, weight belts, float line, or dry bags. I only used it to store my wetsuit top when I overheated on long paddles but the vantage point stand up paddling gives you make it a perfect sport to couple with fishing. On top of the tie downs, there was a fixed box near the nose of the board that could accommodate a spear gun, gps, or fishing poll so I could trawl while paddling. These features make this board my first choice for extended trips and any time I was planning to fish.

At $2295, Wavemaster SUPs have an extremely high price point. They specifically shape each board by hand based on your paddling style, body type, and accessory desires.  I believe the quality of these boards warrant the price tag and it’s a worthwhile investment if you already are, or plan to be, a well-rounded waterman.

Joe Jackson is not related to the kayak-owning, championship-winning Jackson family, nor is he related to the Jackson Five. He is, however, a rafting guide in southern Oregon.

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