Pearson Arrow Laird 11’ SUP – Not your father’s Stand Up Paddle Board
Choosing a SUP has become a daunting task for the consumer and, as a dealer, choosing which lines to carry in the shop is becoming a royal pain in the butt. It seems like anyone with a bit of money can go overseas, get a line of boards made for them and start a SUP company. We get calls on a weekly basis from different reps pushing new lines of boards. Prices are all over the map and trying to figure out exactly what you’re getting, as far construction is concerned, is difficult to say the least. We have been pretty happy paddling and selling Surftech boards for the last couple of years. The company has been around since the late 80′s, pioneered Tuflite manufacturing and has the most comprehensive lineup (over 40 models) shaped by the likes of Lopez, Takayama, Munoz, Merrick and Pearson. We feel that the company is here to stay and builds the longest lasting, best performing SUPs on the market.
I drive the Clavey Sprinter van (otherwise known as the Clavey Rig, Big Blue or the Meckfessel Vessel) and have plenty of room inside for two boards up to 11’. I try to keep one SUP in the van at all times but the issue has always been which model. I am lucky enough to have a choice of any board in our ever growing SUP lineup so it was a just a matter of trying a few out. Over the last couple of years what I have been looking for was a board that would paddle flat water fine but also excel in the surf. My issue is that I often paddle a mile or so to get to one of my breaks, surf for a while and then paddle back which is, for me, the perfect workout (I’d tell you where I go but you wouldn’t be interested, there’s never any surf, the Great Whites are everywhere and there’s always sewage leaking from the treatment plant up the beach).
Just for background: I am 6’2”, 180lbs and I have surfed for the last 25 years. I would never call myself a great surfer but I’m proficient and know which side of the wave is the face. First I tried a few “crossover boards” like the Takayma 11’6” and the Robert August What I Paddle (WIP). While these boards paddle great in flat water and got me where I was going relatively quick, they were both too long and had too much volume for me to be able to surf them well. If the waves had any size to them I had a hard time getting these boards to turn quick enough to get down the line before being taken out by the lip of the wave. In really small waves they worked great but in anything bigger I just could not maneuver them. What I needed was a board that was a touch smaller, with lower volume and a “looser” feel.
At this years Tahoe Nalu SUP event in August I ran into legendary surfboard shaper Bob Pearson of Pearson Arrow in Santa Cruz. We got to talking and he told me about the line of SUPs he shaped with Laird Hamilton for Surftech. His enthusiasim for these new boards was infectious and I left the event wanting to get one in the shop to try out. The Pearson Laird line comes in 10’, 10’6”, 11’ and 12’1” models. While Bob said he swore by the 10’6” I went for the 11’ to give me a bit more stability – I sort of figured that he just might be a better surfer than me.
On my first go I paddled out at Bolinas (Malibu North) early one morning and scored some nice waves at the break called the “Patch”. The board paddled well on the flats and surfed like a dream. With its wide nose (23”), mid-level volume(165 ltr) and thin pin tail (now in a 5 fin set up) it turned like a surfboard – not a battleship. I have now had this board for the last 4 months, surfed it on a weekly basis, and I absolutely love it. I even use it for flatwater paddling when I find myself at a nice spot in need of some water time. I would recommend this SUP to anyone who wants a crossover board that excels in the surf rather than the flats. It’s a trade off well worth the bit of extra effort!
If you want to see Bob Pearson and Laird Hamilton taking this board through its paces check out these videos:
Bob and Laird talk shop
Laird having just a little fun