Did you know you can eliminate excess paddle strokes by learning to shift your body weight to better utilize the shape and features of your paddleboard?
Hala’s high quality inflatables are designed with performance in mind, so keep reading to learn how to use your board's stringer, rocker, and stomp pad to unlock maximum performance with your SUP!
What is a Stringer?
In a traditional surfboard (and in some hard paddleboards), a stringer is a strip of wood that runs down the center core of the board to add stiffness and rigidity. Hala adapted this concept for inflatables by adding a stringer to their SUP board models. These stringers add rigidity, stiffness, and ultimately contribute to overall performance.
Hala incorporates dual, thick, high-modulus carbon stringers into all of their Carbon Kits. This patented inflatable carbon material eliminates some of the “feedback” or rattling sensation you might feel on inflatable boards.
How? When weight shifts on the board, the top stringer resists compression and the bottom stringer resists stretching. More resistance means more rigidity, and less of that "feedback" feeling.
A rigid board is a fast board. When rigidity runs the entire length of a board, the SUP rider maintains momentum with each paddle stroke, resulting in a more effective ride and glide. Upgrading to an inflatable with a Carbon Stringer means you'll be working smarter, not harder.
Hala’s river-specific SUP models have reinforced PVC stringers. This PVC stringer is an additional strip of material that runs from the nose down to the tail of the board.
Why does a stringer matter?
An inflatable board with a stringer is the difference between feeling like you’re standing on an air mattress versus standing on a board that’s made to perform.
An inflatable board with a stringer will act more like a hard board and can handle performing various techniques that you’d use in other board sports (e.g. snowboarding, wakeboarding, surfing) such as lifting the edges or weighting the tail of the board to whip it around turns. These techniques become possible thanks to the stringers on Hala boards.
Anyone who is interested in paddleboarding or surfing on rivers should look for boards with a lot of rocker. Hala is one of the few inflatable paddleboard manufacturers who can produce inflatable SUPs with a consistent rocker throughout the entire length of the board.
What is rocker?
Rocker is a term used to describe how much a board curls up from nose to tail.
- River Rocker: Hala’s whitewater-specific boards, like the Atcha 96, have both a nose rocker and a tail rocker, contributing to an overall potato-chip shape.
- Progressive Rocker: Hala’s All-Water boards, like the Hala Straight Up model, will have a slight rocker that helps the rider stabilize when the water conditions become choppy.
- Glide Rocker: Hala's touring or racing boards, like the Carbon Nass-T, will have a minimal rocker, which enhances speed.
Why does rocker matter?
Similar to rocker on powder skis, whitewater paddleboards with a decent nose rocker can climb over the top of waves rather than barreling through them. Heading directly into a curling wave with a straight nosed board will cause any rider, even those racing at Go Pro Games, to lose momentum and fall off their board.
Nose rocker is also a necessary board feature for anyone who is interested in river surfing. A board with an aggressive rocker is more capable of surfing a variety of waves without getting the nose of the board sucked into the wave. This nose-sucking action is commonly referred to as pearling.
Hala’s whitewater boards are unique because they have both a nose and tail rocker. A tail rocker allows the rider to unlock even more performance capabilities because the rider can step back on the board and leverage the nose up and over bigger waves in a rapid, or surf bigger, steeper waves.
Hala boards are one of the few SUP brands to feature both an indexed and raised stomp pad. The Stomp Pad is one of the finer technical features of the Hala board that allow the rider more ease in performance.
What is a raised and indexed stomp pad?
Just like your computer’s keyboard has a slightly raised bump on the “F” and “J” keys, your Hala board’s stomp pad has a slightly raised bump on the back center of the deck pad for you to feel where your foot is in relation to the board when executing paddle maneuvers.
The Stomp Pad is raised 1.5 inches at the tail, which will not only give the rider additional leverage to raise the nose of the board for surfing, riding over waves, or pivot turns, but it also prevents the rider’s foot from slipping off the back of the board and losing their balance while executing these techniques.
Why does the Indexed and Raised Stomp Pad Matter?
With a solid stringer and advanced rocker, you’re going to find yourself stepping back on the board when you’re surfing a wave, hitting the lines in the rapid, or simply turning your board sharply. This simple, yet glorious, feature helps the rider to execute more paddling maneuvers using weight placement and leverage without having to fumble around the board or look down to find the right foot placement.
Putting It All Together
Next time you’re on the water on your Hala board, play with these three features and try:
- Practice shifting your weight forward and backward
- Engaging the edges and the fins of the board
- Feeling your foot placement using the indexed stomp pad
These skills will translate into more technical maneuvers such as pivot turns on both flat water and rivers, punching holes in rapids, tightening up your eddy turns, or surfing more waves by engaging your board rather than relying solely on your paddle strokes to move!
Looking for a fun river challenge? Try catching eddies without using any paddle strokes! Get some speed and set your angle, then lean and weight the upstream side of your board’s tail, engaging your upstream fin as you break through the eddy line.
Blog written by team rider Cami Swan @flowathlete.