The Shape of Your SUP

The type of board you choose should be determined by how you plan to use it. 

The type of board you choose should be determined by how you plan to use it. 

Stand up paddleboards are produced in many shapes and sizes, and making the right choice depends largely on your paddling habits and goals. If you’re just starting out, an all-around board could be the best choice, but more advanced paddlers might want to purchase a vessel designed with a specific purpose in mind. There are a few basics to learn before you visit your local board shop.

When it comes to hull shape, a wider, flatter hull will be more stable than a v-shaped displacement hull. Displacement hulls are modeled after a boat bottom, and can slice through the water for greater speed and glide. However, they are less stable.

Narrow boards are generally faster, while wider boards provide stability. Standard board lengths range from about 9-12 feet and are closely related to a paddler’s size. A larger, taller paddler will usually need a longer board.

A rounded nose is great for relaxed paddling on flat water, while a pointed nose is best for racing or touring long distances through choppy waves – both situations where efficiency is key. Similarly, a square tail is stable, while a pointed tail is more maneuverable.

There are many variations of the all-around board, but in general they are the most versatile option. They can be used for paddle surfing, calm water paddling, or SUP yoga. They are stable and can often carry a pet or a child in addition to the paddler.

Racing and touring models will be thinner and pointier, and will offer more distance per paddle stroke to paddlers who value speed.

When choosing a board, also consider weight. Heavy models can be durable but hard to transport, while lighter boards can sometimes be more susceptible to damage.

When you are ready to shop, we recommend talking to an expert at your local board shop about your paddling plans. Ask them to suggest a few options, then request a trial session before you buy. Happy paddling!

Ocean Tribe Paddlers is a club hosted by Sanibel Sea School that helps the SWFL paddling community better explore, enjoy, and understand the ocean. Visit or follow us on Facebook to learn more.