Sunova 7'11" Speeed // Review
03 October 2016
By: Andrew Cassidy
Location: Northern Beaches
I had snagged one of those days that seemed like the planets had aligned. There had been a project scheduling mix up at work and I'd suddenly found myself with a free Thursday, all to myself. The kids were at school and the wife was at work and the fact that it was a last-minute, unscheduled day off meant that nobody had a chance to leave me with a list of jobs to do or errands to run. Perfect. It was a sunny spring day with a nice little swell running and a light offshore wind puffing.
I checked my local beachy after the school drop off to find some great, uncrowded waves pulsing through with the gentlemen's hour crew just starting to hit it. I'd been admiring Sunova's funky looking Speeed model for nearly a year and had recently found out a demo 7'11" version was patiently waiting to be test driven at Balmoral Paddle Surf, about 30 minutes away. I had the time, I had the inclination - let's give it a whirl, hey? I bid farewell to those perfect little waves and headed south to go and pick up the board.
I stopped at every beach on the way, trying to ascertain the best break to test out the Speeed. I found a really nice one, not too far from the shop. It was a little bigger than the rest and looked picture perfect with the sun still out but now back-dropped by some dark storm clouds out to sea. The contrast was making the aqua-blue water literally glow and with the wind still light and offshore, I was simply frothing to get out there. I quickly continued on my way and arrived at the shop, picked up the board and headed back to... Wait. Hang on. Picked up the board? We need to just stop there for a second. This thing looks soooo cool. The standard Sunova XXX TEC construction with the combination of black resin etched balsa, plain balsa, black rails brushed with silver paint and the black decals make these boards REAL head-turners. I was blown away by the weight too. I think it might be the lightest 94L board I have ever picked up.
Bit like a whaleshark
Black resin etched balsa
Awesome LiftSUP handle
Substantial tail pad kicker
Quality 3D fins as an optional upgrade
I got to chatting with the guys in the shop and started looking over the other Sunovas they have on demo there. I soon had a mental list of all the goodies I wanted to try: this Speeed, then the Style, then the Flow, maybe the Shroom, definitely the Acid and they talked of a 12 foot gun thing they call the Search which was soon to arrive and sounded right up my alley. I think I'm going to be a busy boy over the next few weeks.
An hour later, I'd finally managed to get the Speeed in the car and started to head back to that epic bank I'd seen earlier. You know the drill - missed it by 20 minutes. The wind had swung around to that evil cross-onshore direction and picked up in ferocity. The dark clouds that were originally out to sea had rolled in, blocked out the sun and had even started spitting on me - just to add extra salt to the wounds. The tide had come in just enough to fatten out the little peelers and you wouldn't believe it, a school sport group was waxing up and about to invade the only decent bank on the beach. Urrrrrgh.
Ah, well. I had this gorgeous piece of styrofoam and balsa under my arm and nothing was going to stop me grabbing a couple of waves to see if it surfed as good as it looked. The Speeed is supposed to excel in these conditions anyway.
I jumped on and after an initial wobble, found the sweet spot to paddle from and started making my way out the back. The first bit of whitewater approached. It was about two foot high which would normally mean I was about to get wet but the 7'11" upped and overed it incredibly well, amazingly well. I was left standing on the seaward side of the foamy hurdle, wondering to myself, how did that even happen? I guess the slight nose flick of the whaleshark-esk front end of the Speeed was able to redirect the rest of the board over the whitewater with minimal impact to a smooth paddle line towards the calmness of the trough behind. I was very impressed, and consequently confident that I could get over almost anything. The next wave was a set. I thought, OK, let's see how this cheeky Speeed can handle head high whitewater, that happens to only just break in front of my board. Ummm - not well. That was a long shot though.
It wasn't long before I was out the back, waiting for my inaugural wave with my 20, or so, new school sport friends. My feet were wet but I wasn't sinking up to my shins/knees like I do on my other boards which are only three to four litres less in volume. It was a pleasant change and definitely made paddling for waves much more efficient. I think the nature of the construction is conducive to more float at the same volume - meaning you will be more comfortable if sticking to your standard volume or more radical on a wave by being able to drop a few litres via width, thickness or length.
My first wave was a mid sized one. A right hander. A bit of a fat one but the Speeed let me pick it up easily. It was very fast yet full enough to allow me a minimal bottom turn before trying a re-entry over the closing out section. I was still quite a way forward on the very comfy and grippy deck pad and found myself with plenty of acceleration but wrestling a bit with the balsa bad boy through those two turns. Coming down from the re-entry I edged my back foot back onto the tail pad, just beyond the hips in the rails, and leant into another bottom turn. Ahhhh - that was better. A bit of drive and a much more fluid arc. A little foam bounce and my first wave on Speeed was complete. The paddle back out had me pondering … so the large, parallel railed, mid section of the board is probably a great place to hang out when quick acceleration and early planing is required but that area behind the hips is where you want to be for all the explosive action to occur. That'll be where the real party is at. Let's do some experimenting on the next one and see how far we can push it.
Back foot moving from speed zone to action zone
Climbs foam really well ... and turns heads
It was another right hander, a little bigger than the first. The Speeed, once again, picked it up with minimal effort and I was soon flying down the face towards the beach. With a lot more consciousness of my foot to board relationship than I normally would have, I hopped my back foot right back to the substantial tail pad kicker and pulled into a bottom turn. Ping. With the drive through the turn and maybe the effect of the parabolic balsa rails, I was slingshotted out of the turn and up to the top of the wave in literally no time at all. Everything was happening so quickly. I didn't have time to think. I was running on instinct. I stomped on the tail, buried the paddle in the top of the wave and pushed with all my might to crank out a top turn hook. It felt really nice. Smooth, fast, flowing and in control even with a touch of fin release as the board came off the rail and flattened out. Even after a critical change of direction like that, the Speeed maintained momentum wonderfully. With just a little weight transition forward, to that nice big planing area, I was off and ready for my next maneuver.
Slingshot bottom turn
Snap to power slide
On the way back out again, I was presented with a smaller set approaching that looked like nobody else could get. So due to the fact that good, unridden waves are taboo in Sydney I thought I might just have enough time to swing at the last minute and give it a crack. That I did. But I was very late. The lip was pitching, I was still scratching to get onto it, backwash was adding wobble to the whole scene. This was going to get ugly. I free fell with the lip down to the bottom of the wave. My legs buckled with the impact of the Speeed piercing the surface during its submarine impersonation. I held my breath and prepared myself to start looking for lobsters. Then, amazingly, that little nose flick at the front of the Speeed decided it had other ideas. With a glassy bow wave splaying out from all three sides of the nose, the Speeed popped up and we were off and running again. The hydrodynamics of that crazy design are very impressive. With enough flat planing area to maintain mind blowing speeds yet enough rocker in just the right places to pull a fully submerged board back to the surface (with little to no help from the rider), it's pretty amazing.
Fifteen waves later and I'd been able to test out the 7'11" Speeed in all sorts of waves. Quick lefts, slow rights, sucky ones, fat ones, closeouts and shorebreaks. Once I'd fully dialled in the sweet spot for each type of turn, I was having an absolute ball, even in the now sloppy conditions. I could have stayed out for another hour or two I was having that much fun but the school pickup thing was calling. Maybe I should just hang on to AA's demo for a while longer so I can get an even better feel for it. That way I'll know exactly what dimensions I need to tweak when I order my custom made Speeed! What do you reckon AA?
That gouging hook turn
- Light weight
- Looks awesome
- Super strong construction
- Impeccable workmanship and materials
- Really fast through fat sections
- Turns on a dime when back foot is on the kicker
- Paddles into waves fantastically
- Pops over whitewater really well
- Comfortable and grippy deck pad
- Retractable LiftSUP handle means no more stubbed toes
- Comes in a plethora of sizes and volumes.
- Takes a few waves to find the sweet spot for each type of turn
- Doesn't come with a quad option as standard (for the quad die-hards).
A little video of the Speeed session