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The development of the perfect SUP board for training and competition

The development of the perfect SUP board for training and competition


After many long deliberations, programming and tests, we agreed that the type of SUP board we wanted to achieve needed a long slender shape with a relatively low rocker, but with an area that was large enough for the board to be able to plane. When we paddle an SUP board, we always need to be able to handle different forms of waves. If we paddle in tailwinds and with the waves, for example, we will also be able to increase the speed significantly. When the speed increases, we will soon catch up with the wave in front and if we do not steer or trim the board in time, the bow will dive into the front wave, which means that the speed is greatly slowed down. 


To minimize the effect of this, we saw that a light v-shaped nose was what we were looking for. At the same time, we saw that if the rocker was lifted markedly in the bow, we could counteract the SUP board digging itself further. If the bow were to end up under the water anyway, we saw that if we distributed a large part of the volume wide and low, about three quarters forward, the bow will lift gently out of the water and we can then drive at speed again. All in all, we also saw that the Kona Ocean, with its slender lining and profile, usually cuts straight through the wave in front without the speed decreasing significantly. 


In order for Kona Ocean to also be able to paddle as easily as possible in crosswinds, we also needed to think about aerodynamics. We saw that the front part of the board needed a different shape in relation to what we saw in previous SUP boards. To achieve this, we needed to minimize the volume but without the board losing buoyancy and diving. 


The aerodynamically tested shape means that the board can more easily stay the course in crosswinds and brake less in headwinds. The influence of the wind is also reduced when it is controlled in tailwinds. The consensus is that we can now put all our energy into pushing the board in the right direction instead of having to put effort into fighting wind and waves. Now we instead get the opportunity to use these to our advantage. 


In order for this SUP board to have the best conditions to be able to glide as efficiently and effortlessly as possible in all conditions, we saw that a so-called planing hull was preferable. To make the board easier to level and lie high in the water when we paddle in choppy waters, we shaped the underside of the hull with a single concave in the nose which gradually changes to a double concave at the back to give lift and release. In the tail, the concavities are smoothed out to give the board release and the right properties to be able to steer and surf in waves. 


The outcome of this long and extensive design process with countless tests and measurements was a SUP board whose basic shape is now of an elegant and classic character, with a large and balanced surface from nose to tail and which strengthens its ability to maintain speed. This also makes Kona Ocean less sensitive to longitudinal weight changes, which means that we can put more effort into driving and trimming the board without having to compensate for involuntary roll. 

Stroke rate

Through all testing, we have also seen that a SUP board like Kona Ocean with so-called planing, benefits from paddling with a slightly higher stroke rate. The idea with this type of board is that it should be high in the water in order to minimize water friction and then we need to maintain a slightly higher stroke rate in relation to a SUP board with displacement hull such as Kona Numinous. 


During the function test, it turned out that the Kona Ocean boards work really well for surfing and paddling in breaking waves. Due to its unique design and ability to adjust the position of the fin, it is exceptionally easy to catch waves early with a 14 foot long board and to turn with the help of both the rear edges of the board and the optimally placed fin box. This SUP board is able to perform everything from so-called “bottom/top turns” and “cutbacks” to “noseriding”. Then just remember to also wax the nose and to attach the leash to the rear bracket based on pure self-preservation operation. 

Sustainable design  

One of the most important parameters in this development work has always been about quality, i.e. the durability of the board over time. Since we have now seen that the hull shape itself is so functional and fast that it will help everyone to develop and enjoy SUP training and win competitions for many years to come, we also wanted the construction to last at least as long. Our aim and goal is for at least three people to be able to use each individual SUP board from Kona for at least three years. Which also means that all our SUP boards for competition and training need a lifespan of more than 9 years. 


The big questions have then come to be about how we can construct a SUP board that meets our high demands and who manages to build it. After testing and rejecting countless prototypes from various manufacturers around the world, we began to despair. Our own vision of what SUP is about differed markedly from the rest of the board sports industry, an industry that we all had experience from but which we also had a hard time coming to terms with. 

Sports car  

By pure chance, we got in touch with a manufacturer that was outside the industry we knew, a manufacturer of exclusive parts for sports cars. Suddenly we had someone with the ability to both build and produce what we were looking for in a SUP board, but it also required a manufacturing method that no other board manufacturer could handle. Slowly, the chain began to link together, now we had a partner who actually lived up to our high demands and who wanted to be part of our effort to create sustainable products and a sustainable manufacturing process. 

Hull construction  

Kona's SUP boards in composite material are built on the basis of an ultralight CNC - milled foam core in EPS which is equipped with adapted reinforcements to regulate the rigidity in all planes. The EPS core is then clad with fiber laminate of both carbon and glass which is then compression molded under pressure in a thermoform. Together with the hull shape, the amount of carbon fiber controls how reactive the board becomes and the more carbon fiber the faster the board reacts to the paddle stroke and how we move on the board, something that can be both positive or negative depending on how used we are to paddle SUP. 

Manufacturing process  

This advanced technology is what gives a construction with low weight and which at the same time withstands all kinds of stress. The ratio between thermoset and fiber laminate is crucial for the quality and function of the final product and is carefully controlled throughout the process, all to achieve optimal rigidity and strength in relation to weight. This construction is the basis for an SUP board that will keep paddling daily for 10 years. 


Kona Ocean is designed with optimally adjusted volume in relation to the weight of paddler it must be able to carry and the cruising speed that the board is intended to be able to paddle in. Our extensive field tests on the water have shown that a balanced volume distribution is crucial for how SUP- the board will work in different conditions and how the board reacts to different loads during paddling. To counteract pitching and to make the board as functional as possible, we have added more volume in the tail. 

Volume distribution  

With a so-called adapted volume gives the board good stability even when the board is controlled from the tail, i.e. that there is sufficient buoyancy to carry the paddler even when he is standing in the stern during, for example, a pivot turn. The increased volume in the stern also makes it easier for the SUP board to catch waves when, for example, downwind paddling. The elevated standing surface also contributes to water flowing more easily off the board and to the water that has been flushed over the edges flowing down towards and out through the two-fold drainage holes. 


The deck at Kona Ocean has a carpet in EVA of the highest quality with so-called diamond structure to provide optimal grip and to facilitate circulation in the feet during long paddles. The deck pad is also immersed in the deck so that the board can maintain as low a center of gravity as possible. An extra tail pad also included. This is intended to be used when you want to surf with the board in breaking waves and then provides extra grip and support when you are in the surf position with your back foot across the board. The tail pad is then placed in the stern, just in front of the rear bracket for the catch strap. 


For efficient drainage, Kona Ocean has been designed with four drainage holes. These are immersed in the sides of the board with a negative aft angle to prevent water from flowing back into the board. The deck also slopes slightly outwards to the sides to make the water flow naturally towards the drainage holes. 


Kona Ocean comes with a 7 inch (175 mm) hand-cut fiberglass fin that is specifically adapted for this SUP board. The fact that it is just made of fiberglass has a number of advantages such as that it e.g. gets the right flex and weight in relation to the board. The fin's design is optimized to provide course stability, maneuverability and minimal resistance in the water. The fin depth also offers a good balance between stability and maneuverability and works great for pivot turns even in shallow water. The fin also has a sufficiently long base (175 mm) in relation to the size of the board to provide the best possible course stability and acceleration. The fin angle of 51 ° means that it can easily be paddled through seaweed etc. 

Fin box  

The fin box on the Kona Ocean is of the so-called US model with a total length of 10 inches (254 mm), which is considerably longer than the market standard. The fact that we have chosen to mount such a long box makes the SUP board even more adaptable and possible for the paddler to adjust the position of the fin completely according to prevailing water conditions and individual paddling technology. We have also chosen to place the fin box a little differently than other manufacturers as we saw how important this was for the board's performance and how we could increase this through a more thoughtful placement. 

Surface layer  

In order for the SUP board to give an inspiring impression after many years of use, we also realized that we needed an appealing and stylish graphic that was easy to recreate if it needed to be repaired. We also needed a durable and protective surface layer that was strong enough to withstand light impacts. Since we were now part of the car industry through our manufacturer, we continued on the same path and encapsulated the construction with four layers of car paint. 

Car paint 

Although the amount of varnish affects the weight of the SUP board somewhat, we saw that a strong surface layer has a more important function for the life of the board than its weight, as the weight of the board can be seen from several aspects. A relatively light SUP board is preferred for accelerations and tailwinds, while a heavier board maintains speed longer when it has reached speed and for crosswinds and headwinds. 


As our SUP boards are training and competition tools of the highest class, we of course also wanted to give them an exclusive impression like a lavish racing bike, as many of those who realized the benefits of SUP as complementary training come from cycling. The fact that the SUP boards are also polished to a high gloss from the factory serves several purposes, one is that it glides faster in the water, another is that it absorbs less dirt and a third is that it can always be polished up to new condition even after several years. using. Another aspect in terms of product price is also that our SUP boards with carbon fiber laminate contain significantly more carbon fiber than a bicycle frame in carbon fiber does... 


Kona Ocean has two leash attachments based on what suits you and the conditions. One sits in front of the standing surface, which is most often used for training and competition, as well as a bracket in the stern for paddling and surfing in breaking waves. In the bow there is also a mount (FCS) for action camera, so that you can, for example, film yourself for technical studies, etc. In front of the standing surface there are also four mounts to e.g. be able to mount an elastic packing system so that you can bring various necessities. 


In our quest to produce the market's fastest and most functional boards for SUP training/racing, we have had to focus on a number of different parameters. Early on we realized that one of the keys to this was stability, i.e. that Kona's boards would always be perceived as more stable, which in turn gave rise to our motto “Stability for Performance ™”. 

Types of stability  

When we talk about stability, we usually talk about two types of stability. We call the first type initial stability and by that is meant how stable the SUP board is experienced when we stand on a stationary board. The initial stability is most interesting when we are evaluating recreational boards (inflatable, all-round) where in many cases you stand still on the board or paddle at relatively low speeds. The second type of stability and which is more significant when it comes to SUP boards for competition and training, we call secondary stability. This type of stability shows how stable the board is experienced at hull speed and, for example, at accelerations. 


In order to arrive at how we could increase the stability of the SUP boards, extensive calculations were required in design and construction programs for hydrostatics/hydrodynamics, and in the end we managed to find ways to lower the level of the standing surface without affecting the board's torsional rigidity and character. 

Center of gravity  

The fact that the standing surface is as close to the water surface as possible means that the combined center of gravity (CTP) of the SUP board and the paddler is lowered. This means that the board receives more support from the water and feels less nervous. The board does not "roll" as easily, i.e. wiggles from side to side. You can easily test this by standing in a parallel position with your feet as close to the edges of the board as possible. If you then lift one foot up in the air, the board will not turn around. By being closer to the water, we also get a better control of the SUP board and can more easily trim and control it by moving our body weight. 

Comparison and hydrostatics  

By using marine architectural principles, we can now easily analyze and compare the stability and glide of SUP boards. We have thus produced unique index numbers that we can now use to ensure which board suits us best based on our body constitution, purposes and conditions. We can also apply this to all new boards we produce. The formula for these numbers includes all aspects of stability and glide and e.g. standing surface level, balance point, volume distribution, width, wet surface, waterline length, weight, etc. 

Kona Ocean 

In summary, we hope that through this text you have gained a little more understanding of what lies behind the development of a so-called “Hard” SUP board. That you can thereby feel a little safer in the choice of a SUP board for training and competition and which also suits you and your conditions best. If you have further thoughts regarding the choice of board or how to get the best effect from SUP training, do not hesitate to contact us. 

See you on the water! 

/Team Kona 

Magnus 02/03/2021 17:17


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