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HOME arrow GEAR INSIGHTS arrow 12 Laird Stand Up Paddle Board Flat Water Review
12 Laird Stand Up Paddle Board Flat Water Review PDF Print E-mail
By: Stand Up Paddle Surfing Magazine   
Thursday, 18 December 2008
    The Laird series of stand up paddle surfboards by Surftech will forever have their place in the history of the sport as one of the earliest production models available to the general public through retail outlets. Designed by Ron House with input from Laird, this board has for a long time become the measuring stick for stand up paddle board that followed in terms of stability and performance. We recently had occasion to try out a brand spanking new yellow 12’ Laird right off the shelf, shiny and new. For this review we had two riders, one experienced stand up paddler of about 175 lbs and another complete newbie, never before been on a stand up paddleboard paddler of about 230 lbs. The fin installed was the stock 9” single fin that comes with the board. The waves were down so we took it out into the flat water. In this article we’ll cover the shape, stability, and overall impressions.


12lairdstanduppaddle.jpg    The outline of the 12’ Laird was a lot more performance oriented than we had originally thought. The nose is 21” wide which widens to 31” at the midpoint and pinches in to 19 1/4” in the tail. Most of the volume is in the nose of the board while the tail appeared to be pulled in compared to the overall width. With the minimal rocker of this board it’s a fast paddler and with the slightly pulled in tail should surf nicely, though we didn’t take it into the waves. (However, our 175 lb paddle did ride a ripple for about 50 yards on a non-breaking wave/ripple.) The stability is quite consistent throughout the mid section of the board. Some boards have a noted difference when you shift your weight a few inches, but such was not the case with this board. The board is only 4.13” thick so the overall volume didn’t feel unruly or overly buoyant.

    The deck is mostly flat. It seems that the center 1/3 of the deck is pretty flat with the outer 1/3’s sloping toward the edge of the board. Our advanced paddler found his foot placement comfortably near the centerline of the board while our new paddler struggled to keep the board level. After some discussion we concluded that the rounded rails of the board try tend to slide your weight over the sides instead of keeping it flat on the board. When you’re a new paddler you tend to take a wider stance and your feet end up closer to the curved rails thus drawing your center of gravity over the side. This particular board had a Surftech deck pad on it. The pad felt comfortable and is denser than most deck pads on the market. Whether that’s a pro or a con is debatable but it is what it is. The pad was comfortable under our feet but maybe a bit harder on the knees in a kneeling position. For surfing a dense deck pad such as this may allow for better power transfer to the board.

     In terms of stability, the primary stability, or the measure of the boards stability on the textured surface chop of the water is average, not overly tippy and not completely stable. The board has great secondary stability, meaning that it does actually take quite an effort to actually tip the board over. You are more likely to fall off from your own balance than for the board to actually release the fin and tip over upside down. All-in-all for our lighter paddler of 175 lbs, the board was stable, but for our new 230 lb paddler, the board was tippy and somewhat difficult to manage. However, with some practice, we’re convinced that our new paddler will get his sea legs and be able to paddle and maneuver the board with skill. He plans on surfing the board eventually, and we think it’ll be a great stick for him when he gets to that point. The 12’ Laird was once thought of the as the most stable of all stable boards, and it probably was. However, with the advancement of equipment and the creation of boards with more stability, we’ve found that the Laird is about average and a heavier paddler may not be able to up and paddle one with ease on the first try.

     Our overall impressions of the board are good. The board paddles fast and as was mentioned even caught an unbroken ripple of a wave without too much trouble. It definitely has glide on its side for the average size paddler. In fact, not too long ago Tom Jones set the world distance stand up paddle record when he paddled the entire California coast on a Laird.

    The outline has much more of a performance look to it than we had previously envisioned before actually paddling out on one. The slightly pulled in tail may contribute to the paddling speed and should be helpful in the surf. For a paddler up to around 200 lbs the board will most likely be a stable platform in all conditions. First time paddlers over 200 lbs will be able to stand and paddle the board but may jump into the learning curve at a point where some water time will be needed before a graceful water journey is achieved but could be a happy median for those looking for an even balance between stability and paddling speed and surf performance.

    Most surf shops have a couple 12’ Laird models as part of their rental quiver so it shouldn’t be too much of a hunt to get one out on the water and try one out before making the purchase. Next, we hope to take one out in the surf and round out the review, but that’s all for now. For more specs on the 12’ Laird stand up paddleboard visit

feed3 Comments
Rob Casey
June 09, 2009

I'm a Seattle based 6-5 220lb novice and I found that I had no problem standing up the first time on the Laird. I also found it stable, easy to paddle, and was able to surf a few small windwaves with no issues. As a kayaker, I was testing it's rails to simulate edging as we do in kayaking, and found that I could push each rail down to nearly vertical without losing my balance. Sweet. It's also light for longer carries unlike some of the other boards I've been testing.

Groovy Grover
January 06, 2009

I have been experimenting with a number of different fins in my Laird 12 ft board with the following results.

FCS 10.25 inch Classic Fin. This fin has slightly larger surface area than the plastic fin provided and significantly more rake and tip area. I have found that it significantly increases hold and stability for nose riding and increases the speed and drive of the board. You do however need to use the paddle more as a pivot to lever the board around. For tip time this is would be my choice. If your a beginner this would also be a great choice for a first off surf fin.

Glide 9 inch Cut Away Fin. This fin makes the Laird 12fter surf like a nine footer, you would not believe it is the same board. Small amounts of pressure on the rail using a drop knee will spin the board on its axis. If you love doing cut backs and radical turns you will not believe what you can achieve with this fin in the board.

You will also be able to turn the board easily from the midpoint with this fin. In choppy conditions you have to counter the side to side play all the time and this will require great balance to stay on the board.

See you in the Soup

Groovy Grover
January 03, 2009

I have surfed the Laird 12 footer in 3-4ft surf both at Ocean Grove Main Meach and 13th Beach in Victoria Australia.

I have only taen the board out in the surf on 6 or 7 occasions but I have put in extensive time in the Barwon River in flat water working on heal side and toe side drop knee turns before progressing onto the surf.

I have found with my weight that the board bogs down in small surf 1-2ft and is difficult to paddle. However at 3-6ft the board just comes alive. You need to catch the wave and then take one full step foward to the nose on take off to drive the board down the wave and get going. Once you have forward momentum its hold her luke shes headed for the barn.

The board is extremely fast down the line and is easy to drop knee turn even without the paddle used as a pivot point.

I weigh approx 235lb and can really rip some solid turns on this board

The version I have does not have any deck grip and that is the only draw back I can see.

You will love this board if your in the 200 range


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