Starboard SUP Pro Performance 8’5 2016 SUP Review

Starboard SUP Pro Performance 8’5 2016

Reviews / Surf

Starboard SUP 53,339

At A Glance

The Pro Performance from Starboard sits neatly in the classic surf category within the brand's line-up. It’s a traditional shape with a modern twist and sits towards the larger end of the range of Pro Performance boards on offer this year. Regarding build and construction, this comes from Starboard’s factory in Thailand; these guys have been in the business of producing large boards, be it windsurfing or SUP for over twenty years.

If you have come across a Starboard board in your local shop you’ll be well aware of the quality finish, they have got it dialled. The construction just seems to get better and better, and this year the Pro Performance boards come in their 'Blue Carbon' technology with the ‘Star Touch’ deck that is smooth when dry and grippy when wet. I think it’s pretty hard to fault these guys on this front.

If I had to make a criticism it would be the fact that in the past their pro boards had different constructions to suit different budget requirements, this year it’s solely the Blue Carbon option. Sadly, there isn’t a budget way to get this shape; you are either in it to win it with the Pro Performance or not. However, picking up this board, feeling the weight, looking at the finish and then actually using it, you can kind of see why!

This is a dedicated performance surf shape, the outline resembles a shortboard, and that’s exactly how it wants you to surf it. It's 112 litres, so I would agree with Starboard’s reckoning that this would be for riders 65-90kg. I’m around 80kg, and this felt the like the perfect compromise of ability to cope with the chop, be manoeuvrable and yet allow a good level of aspirational challenge. The board has the classic hallmarks of a good progressive surf SUP (or indeed any shortboard shape in real world conditions).

On The Water

This is a fun board to ride. Test conditions ranged from thigh high clean surf up to overhead and thumping. In this, and all the conditions in between, the board excelled and delivered. Despite being a ‘performance’ shortboard shape, in onshore, weaker conditions it could be ridden up near the nose if you fancied some old school trimming. Where it excels, however, is on the back foot. This board loves to carve, top turn and kick buckets of spray on the lip of the wave. I found even in the small stuff, with high paddle input, I was surprised by how manoeuvrable this board was! In bigger swell, this board sticks right in the pocket or shreds the wave face with power and ease.

There is a nice tail kick, with the heel pad as close to directly over the fins as possible; with your foot in the sweet spot this board wants to go sideways as soon as you turn it with a mere hint of aggression. There is a decent level of nose rocker, meaning steeper take-offs are more forgiving than on some surf specific SUPs I have tried, which can tend to buck you off or catch when facing more critical sections. This is a testament to the fact that a lot of their R&D takes place on some of the world’s classiest reef breaks.

However, this is all tempered with a flat rocker area through the mid-section, which is also where a lot of the volume is stacked away too. This, therefore, makes for sensible real-world paddling. Bumpier and choppier conditions are more than doable with good paddle input and sound balance.


In summary, I would recommend this board to anyone who has spent some time surfing rounder nosed, higher volume boards and is looking to step down onto something sub 9’0 with a lot of room to grow as a surfer. Equally, this would make a great one-board quiver for someone who has a range of surf shapes looking to roll things into one. It is a solid all-round board, capable in all real-world conditions yet with a pro pedigree that will push and allow you to grow as a seasoned SUP surfer.

This review was in Issue 1 of SUP Tonic.

For more information visit Starboard SUP



By Luke Bolsin
Luke Bolsin has been on the water all his life and taught a wide range of water sports since 2001, and is passionate about being on the water and sharing the stoke with others. He has been paddling stand up since 2008, initially as a cross trainer for no wind or flat days. However in recent years has become totally hooked on SUP for all conditions, be it down wind paddling in swells, SUP surfing, racing, or mooching on calm days around quiet coves. As well as working for SUP Tonic as our Web Editor he divides his time running his own SUP school and rental business in Cornwall, in the UK's South West, as well as being a teacher and a dad. Luke competes on a recreational level in variety of SUP events in his locality, and is part of a burgeoning paddle scene in the heart of UK's surfing region.

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