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The Surftech Dominator – a review

Sometimes bigger is better……This morning I took Surftech’s new Joe Bark Dominator out for a quick paddle. Quick is the operative word. Here is a brief review:

Over the last year I’ve entered a few SUP races in the stock (12’6” and under) class. No – I never have won (in fact last time I got beat by a guy with his 40lb dog on the front of his board), but my finishes were respectable (meaning I was never last). When you are doing one of these races everyone starts at the same time, including those in the “open” class (any length over 12’6”) and it’s quite a scene. Even though I understand the science behind it, I’m still constantly amazed just how much faster the longer boards actually are. At the end of all of these races the paddlers on the open class longer boards are often a half-mile ahead of the fastest stock class paddlers. With the arrival of the new Bark Dominator here at Clavey HQ, I finally got a chance to take one of these longer board for a spin.

My normal “fitness” paddle consists of heading down to the Petaluma River with one of our demo SUPs and paddling from the turning basin to the marina and back. I think it’s around 3 miles or so but have never actually clocked it with a GPS. The board I usually use is the 12’6” Bark Competitor because I always felt like it was the fastest board out there. Full disclosure: I have more than a bit of a competitive obsessive-compulsive behavior that comes into play when I do this paddle. I tend to only do it early when there is no wind and I keep a log of my times and am always trying to beat the last.

This morning, conditions were perfect with not a breath of wind and a slight incoming tide to help push me back on the home stretch. I installed a Rainbow 9” Thresher Fin in the our shiny new 14’ Dominator and hauled all 26lbs of it down to the river. Once there, I tossed the board in the river, climbed on, set my iPod to 11, started my stopwatch and took off sprinting. Once I start my watch I tend not to stop for anything – not even to change my iPod that was mistakenly set on one of my daughters playlists. So with some god awful teeny pop blaring in my ears I got the board up to speed.

One of the first things I notice was how great the board tracked. I don’t think I’ve ever paddled a board that was so easy to keep straight. All my paddling effort could be used to build up speed instead of directional corrections. Slight, simple edging was all that was needed to change direction. Once up to speed the Dominator was truly amazing. Unlike a shorter board that seems to reach a hull speed where you are stuck no matter how hard you paddle, the Dominator actually got up on a plane and from there just kept speeding up the harder I paddled.

This aspect made it more exciting – and challenging. My best time before using the Dominator was 36 minutes flat. At my halfway point where I turn around (a slow task on a 14’ board) I was at 15 minutes! This only increased my desire to go faster – especially when Lady GaGa started edging me on. At my invisible finish line with my imaginary crowds cheering me on I clocked in at 31 minutes. A difference of 5 minutes in a 3-mile paddle is pretty significant.

I think I’ve found my new workout board….until something faster comes along.

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