Infinity, led by master shaper Steve Boehne and his son Dave, ranks among the world’s finest handcrafted board manufacturers anywhere in the world today. After a successful outing with race proven shapes such as the Dart, Cutthroat and Whiplash, the introduction of the Infinity BlackFish marks a new evolution in the design outlook of high performance SUP boards. Although it is a new offering to the paddling public this year, the board is already race proven. Team rider Slater Trout competed on a BlackFish in 2014 when he took 1st place in the sprint at the Payette River Games and finished 8th in the grueling Battle of the Paddle-California elite race. Drawing from their extensive board shaping legacy, the BlackFish combines the best attributes from Infinity’s wide-ranging portfolio into a versatile new design concept.
The BlackFish first drew inspiration from the nose of a Steve Boehne designed prone paddleboard intended to plane on top of the water rather than displace it to either side. The BlackFish employs an elongated nose rocker which extends forward like the outstretched neck of a condor. While the nose does come to a point, the entire front section of the BlackFish is wider and more of a full-volume shape than previous Infinity designs. The underside of the nose comes to a reasonably sharp “V” intended to part the water and facilitate entry into the flat planing surface of the BlackFish’s middle.
Moving back from the nose, the top of the BlackFish drops down to a flat standing area which extends to the board’s tail. The model I tested had a neoprene handle centered on a three section OAM black deck pad. The front and back sections of the deck pad were ultralight round cutouts which help keep the board’s overall weight at 20 lbs (9.1 kg). The middle section is a diamond grove texture.
The BlackFish has a small amount of tail rocker and a slightly crescent shaped tail compared to the square tail found on many other SUPs. On the BlackFish’s belly, the planing surface in the middle of the board gives way to a large single concave at the tail. The model I tested was configured with a custom three fin set up designed by Larry Allison.
The BlackFish Series is available in three styles:
BlackFish ST: Developed by Dave Boehne with input from Slater Trout; this is an all-around race shape
BlackFish DW: Infinity’s downwind board with additional rocker and a slightly different underside than the BlackFish ST
BlackFish Coast Runner: BlackFish design available in 11’ and 12’ lengths and accessorized with utility tie downs
Specifications of the Model Tested
Length: 12’6” Width: 24.5” (62 cm) Weight: 20 lbs (9.1 kg)
All Infinity stand up paddleboards are handmade and can be shaped to your desired width.
Quick off the line, the Infinity BlackFish I tested rapidly accelerates and begins to skim off the water’s surface. The rocker and full volume in the nose avoid the pitfalls of self steering from the nose in turbulent boat wakes and competitor chop – the latter a key attribute for elite racing performance.
My regular board for the past several months has been a 14’ x 24” flat water production board from a major manufacturer. At 5’6” and 150 lbs, I did not have any difficulty managing the BlackFish’s 24.5” width, particularly with the benefit of the added stability and tracking from the three fin set up. The board craves speed and seemed to perform best with a short, rapid cadence as opposed to one with an extended reach.
I began the test inside Dana Point Harbor and after getting a feel for the board in the flat water and spinning around a few buoys I ventured outside into the open ocean. Turning north at the harbor’s mouth, I pointed the BlackFish’s nose directly into the stiff wind and took off for a rock outcropping approximately 1.5 miles (2.4 km) away. The ability of the Blackfish to skim over the surface of the oncoming wind chop was unlike any other board I’ve paddled. Paddling upwind is typically not the most enjoyable set of conditions…on the BlackFish, I would go so far to say it was the most exhilarating part of the ride as the board skimmed it’s way over the chop shooting sprays of water out to the sides.
Upon reaching the rocks I turned out to sea to test the BlackFish’s performance in side chop. The result was noteworthy as the board’s low profile and volume distribution enabled it to push forward with minimal disturbance. The board I tested did not perform as well in downwind conditions, yet this didn’t come as a surprise as downwinding wasn’t the intent of this particular design.
The three stage OAM deck pad is inspired and you can very easily tell where you are standing on the board depending on the texture of the deck pad. The BlackFish was easy to maneuver around buoy turns and the three fins grabbed the water in a manner that gave me the confidence to be a bit more aggressive than I typically am during a board review. The flat deck gives paddlers the freedom to maneuver on the board in the same manner as one might on a surfboard.
The Infinity BlackFish I tested is an elite race board that excels in flat water and open ocean chop. Rarely are race conditions pristine which makes the versatility of the BlackFish a good choice for paddlers seeking a modern stand up paddleboard backed by the authenticity of a world renowned shaper. The addition of the BlackFish DW and Coast Runner round out the series for a broad range of customers beyond the confines of the racing community.
The BlackFish looks amazing and if you are a discerning paddler who derives a sense of confidence and excitement from paddling one of the best boards on the water, then the Infinity BlackFish just might be the board for you.
Disclosure: Dave Boehne gave me the opportunity to paddle his personal BlackFish, however, the opinions expressed are my own.
Acknowledgement: I used a Quickblade Paddles 81 sq/in V Drive while testing the Infinity BlackFish.