Nahskwell 9'7 Well (2016 update this is now called a 'fit)
Nahskwell are a Brittany based manufacturer of SUP, and I guess the appeal for me was the fact they may design their boards with similar conditions in mind to us, down here in Cornwall. I love the look of many of the pro wave boards, but the idea of paddling a 7 foot board out through a head high close out North Cornwall coast beach break simply does not appeal to me! The pleasantries of a perfect windless point break or predictable and readable reef simply doesn't really enter into my day to day SUP surfing world!
In terms of construction the Well looks neat, solid and no frills. I like the simplicity... I wear a black wetsuit, I'm not Kai Lenny; I don't want people to look at me in the surf! In your face Fluro this board is not, understated and functional design it is! Nice looking detailing and colour matched deck pad and rails, but overall a clean white board. The handle is great and well balanced. Fin boxes on the Nahskwells all seem to be Tuttle windsurf style boxes, except on their longboards. Whilst this is great, and fits the boards really well, my only concern would be for those who are a little abusive to their kit. Don't get me wrong, Tuttle boxes are bomb proof, but when they do break... big mess. An FCS plug is a relatively simply fix should it be ripped out... However, unless you regularly ride your boards up the beach, then this really shouldn't put you off.
Shape wise the Well is I'm told is the same outline as the surf series boards, so it has it's pedigree in waves. Its got a ton of volume under the paddling area, which then quickly thins out at the nose and towards its pulled in semil fish tail. Its running a thruster, with a marginally bigger centre fin. This is a concept directly nicked from shortboard surf shaping, put the volume where it is needed, i.e under my fat ass... thin it out in the parts of the board that need the performance. Boards I've previously surfed with a similar volume (circa 130 litres) tend to be more 'mal' shaped which makes them great for catching waves, but a little less responsive for more aggressive top to bottom surfing styles.
I was fortunate to be able to try the board in a range of conditions from head high 'Cornwall at its best' to 1 foot mush. My board of choice this summer in the waves has been a round nosed 9'8" with a couple more litres of volume under my feet. Getting it out through big sets is more than doable, but can be hard going. The more 'pro' shape of the Well made getting out, even through some pretty big stuff, a real doddle with careful foot placement, or worst case, manic knee paddling and paddle bracing. Paddling this board onto waves was smooth and easy for me and still fitted the profile of SUP; the ability to take waves early. I found by moving myself forward along the board as I paddled onto even smaller waves was quite important, and perhaps a more round nosed mid length SUP would have required less effort, however, I would still say this board would be more than capable of catching all but the tiniest of waves. The real joy of this board was on the wave it seems to come alive. My expectations of a 9’7” relatively high volume board was that it would be quite sluggish and cruisy, however by adjusting your weight forwards and backwards at key points of the top and bottom of the turn, I would say this board really allows for more radical style surfing, that would be certainly excite anyone looking to make a transition into SUP surfing on smaller sub 10’ boards.
I’ve had a few friends and couples approach me of late, looking for a board that does ‘everything’ from a bit of recreational flat water paddling to small wave surfing. I normally point them towards a 10’ log of some description, however if there was a lean more towards waves, with a smaller element of, but the option to flat water paddle for lighter folk, then this would definitely be a board worth considering!
For more details of their boards: http://www.nahskwell-sup.com/en/well-series/
Stockists are all over the UK, in Cornwall speak to Rich at West Country and he’ll clue you right up!: http://www.westcountrywatersports.co.uk/