My friend and me both got the production Barracuda 10 days ago, 7’10 and 7’8. We prone and have very basic SUP skills. We have tried 3 other DW sup boards prior, including each, having a custom DW sup built to suit our needs. Well, we both sold those boards and I can tell you that the Barracuda is miles ahead in performance compare to those boards! There is a reason why most shapers are making their board longer and skinnier! But from trying other long and skinny from other shapers, I can tell you that they do not even come close to being as good as the Barracuda! The efficiency, stability and speed of these boards are amazing! And the way they are shaped, balanced, as well as how the swing weight works makes them so fun in the surf. These boards are also going to be weapons to take off in bigger waves! I have ridden the Lift 150x with it so far, and have another 1.5 inch forward if needed. So stoked I got my hands on this board
I paddled a few brands including and an e3 doing flat water drills. The 6’5” e3 paddled faster (measured) prone than the other two brands of which one was 7’3 and the same width. The e3 also paddled significantly straighter than the longer board which was also very surprising and just felt livelier trying to pop up. I think the e3 has features that some newer brands didn’t understand before rushing their barracuda inspired dw boards to market and the barracuda is another generation ahead of the e3 again.
Mat’s comment about positioning yourself rear of the balance point, for buoyancy, so the tail sinks a fair bit, is a key point taught by Jeremy Riggs that seems completely missed in discussions on mast placement. I believe it ensures that when the board interacts with the surface on takeoff and touch downs ( planing ) your weight is slightly back to ensure the nose and rocker interact with the surface for the best outcome.
I am not an expert, just learning like most. My comments come as someone who has invested three summers riding DW in free wing mode and no longer needs the wing to go endlessly dw so now I am learning to get up reliably with the paddle.
I concur with praise for the kalama shape. I was out in a lake today in 10-18?, waves were a little over a foot, I’m not good, at all, and got up briefly on my 7’6”x22” kalama. I was just practicing packing my wing, and figured I wouldn’t make it happen. On another note, I was experimenting with packing the wing in my pack with the boom still inflated, like a mini version of Kai’s carrot. It was a tad awkward but I think it helped. I was certainly carrying more speed/stability while waiting for the moment.
I’m my daily driver for downwind is the lift 120. I have a 90 and a 150 that I will use on DW’s as well. I have a Custom Barracuda and I run it all the way forward in the box. Dave actually moved the boxes forward for the production boards and I have used the 7’8” and run my lift set ups right in the front no problem.
I think you are very right with this, and 3rd iteration likely a convergence and split.
I’d love a Kalama board, they have by far the cleanest lines and the subtle profile nose to tail curve is just amazing, and the nose rocker is super clean. I dislike the look of the full chine rails and V down the noses in most of the other brands, this doesn’t work in surf, very tracky.
At a beginner level I don’t think it matters very much, my very rough DIY 8’6x18.5 is proving to be super easy to paddle up in tiny bumps, wings in 8kn on a big foil, wing in 12kn on a small foil. Weighs 6.2kg so pumps well with the foil near the middle of the board, and seems watertight. Only downside is the forward V concave and chined rails toward the nose! I’m glad I didn’t spend more on a production board at these dimensions as I feel certain I’ll outgrow it and there is nothing used on the market.
Just got my KT Dragonfly. It’s a custom but same dims as the production 7’4 x 19.5” x 7” at 105L and between 11-12lbs.
First Impressions: I have very limited experience with downwinding, but it paddles very efficiently and I’ve been able to get on foil a few times in my first 3 sessions. When up and riding I feel like the control of the foil is super solid for such a huge board. It seems to be more stable to stand on in the bumps than a friend’s 7’8 Kalama (98L?) which I think is due to it being wider and more voluminous. Paddling the Kalama felt very similar. I’ve also borrowed a friend’s Armstrong 120L 7’7 and the KT paddles more efficiently (I think due it being skinnier). It also feels like the KT could pump up on foil a bit easier. Overall I’m enjoying it and can’t wait to get better so that I can take full advantage of this awesome board.
Not agreeing or disagreeing with your thought that all the long skinny boards are of the same generation, but I will say that I guarantee that no shaper spends as much time doing downwind and trying new concepts as Dave. Hands down. He is out almost everyday working on DW, and he’s has had a ton of variations to the design that occurred before the Barracuda was released in production form. Once that happened everyone else came out with a similar board within months. There is a lot more going on with the Barracuds boards than just long and skinny.
Yes I definitely don’t doubt that Dave is putting in the most time on refinement to make what will likely for a while be the gold standard. As I said, I’d love one.
Maybe worth clarifying, I’m trying to understand what characteristics make an amazing board stand out. This is the angle. With foils we now understand them enough to describe - snappy roll, worse glide, top end low end etc, pitch stable, recovery etc. But with downwind boards so far only really - paddling speed & stability, touchdowns, weight/durability, balance/pump. No one at a high level and independent is describing nuance (yet I guess). Bump damping on Barracuda website is one more subtle feature though I don’t understand how it works.
Re long and skinny, yes this true like early high AR foils that weren’t great, same applies I’m sure.
I think everybody agrees Dave (re) invented the long and skinny DW style boards, but just putting a lot of time in it doesnt mean you get guaranteed the best board out there.
I haven,t paddled either Kalama, Sunova, KT but it won,t be the first time that a great idea will be perfectioned quickly by a different shaper and there are imo always a lot of different ways to get a design work.
Ive now tried the custom barracuda (105L?), dagger 110L, kt custom (105L?), camet custom (100L?), and my armstrong (120L). I can say that the skinnier boards paddle fast in moments… but those moments are can be a bit fleeting as they are so roll sensitive. Agree its just so hard to objective when there are so few experts able to weigh in, we are often trying out someone else’s board/foil/tuning/volume, and its early days!
Well its all apples and oranges, but i thought the camet felt awesome - at 17” it just had so much boardspeed, where the narrowness really felt returned with board speed.
Otherwise I’ve been liking the size of the Armstrong 7-7 120L for keeping salt spray off my face when paddling prone to get to the windline, but a larger size in any of the other boards would have had the same effect. One of the factors for me in matching my board to my foil was trying to control for variables (e.g. rocker, AoA) … as there is little margin for error. I am also beginning to notice that the logistics of storing/securing/loading unloading will on some days make-or-break whether or not I can squeeze a session, so the slight compromise there on length for ease of carrying, loading, etc is becoming a consideration. A board 7-4 and below I could lock into my truck cap and have an easier time with security.
The Armstrong seemed to be the only one with deck concave, which is what I’m most comfortable on (my custom wing board has a concave deck). This feels like it gives greater roll control, but I’ve heard other people say they prefer dead flat. It still feels weird to me though!!