Starboard 8'5" Pocket Rocket review

Starboard Pocket Rocket 8'5

My background in surfing is mainly limited to longboards and mid length retro egg/fish shapes, the shape of this board really appealed to me, with a nice pulled in pin tail for super stylish turns, yet a nice big round nose which is just screaming to have some feet hung over it! This board was my first real dally with sub 9 foot SUP surf boards, having traditionally seen SUP as a small wave alternative. In spring of 2014 I snapped my longboard and so I decided to investigate SUP in waves a bit more seriously. This board found its way into my hands through West Country Watersports and was in the wooden construction as shown above.

I've come across a number of starboard SUP and windsurf boards in the past and my first SUP from 2006 is a starboard that is still going strong. I don't think you can fault the construction of these boards. They are super tough and look great. I've not got my hands on the super light brushed carbon boards they make, but I didn't feel weight to be an issue with this board. I surfed it a couple of times locally to me at a beach requiring a 10 minute walk through hilly sand dunes and certainly didn't feel this to be too irksome!

Paddling this board out it became apparent that I was definitely smaller than I was used to! Its fits firmly into the ‘surf’ category of board at 130 litres. I think I made a few local surfers day initially doing the classic giraffe on stilts sea sweeper wobble out through the surf, punctuated with the odd swim. However, that said, once the jelly legs had subsided, I found this board to be incredibly user friendly. My only criticism would be also one of its strengths, that the wide nose made it quite hard to ‘punch’ through breaking waves, so timing became critical, rolling unbroken waves were fine, as were white water, however the critical point, just as the wave broke or was about to, became a fearful sight for me on this board. I spent a fair bit of time getting ‘spun’, finding myself facing the beach waiting for the clean up of the next set wave!

Catching waves with this board is a doddle, in shoulder high waves, down to real dribblers. I found the large nose volume really useful and by moving weight towards it with some sharp paddle strokes really worked out well for getting exactly where I wanted to be on the face as the wave picked me up. On the wave itself, the pin tail was really noticeable. This board made for clean and stylish soul arch style surfing, or with a little paddle input and some back foot pressure, more vertical turns. What I especially liked was that in smaller surf I was never bored as well, and anyone with any longboarding experience would really enjoy the ability to trim and walk the nose of this board. It reminded me in many ways of the shapes of the late great Donald Takyama (I don’t have any illusions that I was anywhere close to surfing like him!).

I would say this board would suit anyone with some pre-existing SUP experience in waves looking to progress down to smaller boards. Don’t be fooled by the fact Starboard don’t have this in their ‘pro range’, to my mind this is a ‘real world’ SUP surfboard that 90% of surfers would enjoy having a blast on!

Thanks to Westcountry watersports and Starboard UK!

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