The One Board Quiver: Maiden Voyage

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pau hana big ez ricochet

Pau Hana Big EZ Ricochet

pau hana big ez ricochet
Ready to head out.

Nothing’s more frustrating than having a brand new, unused board in your garage which you can’t use because of the weather. Sunday April second looked like a great day. The water was still hovering near 40ºF, but the Hudson River was almost glassy. Perfect conditions for a maiden voyage on my new Pau Hana Big EZ Ricochet!

Of course, Mother Nature had other ideas. When finally I got down to the riverfront the wind had showed up. Out in the channel it was about 10 mph with little whitecaps. Great. But I launched anyway. Nothing like survival paddling to get a feel for a board. So I put on my traditional PFD, slung my hydration pack around my waist, put on the leash and headed out!

Immediately I noticed the width. The difference between a 30” board and a 32” board might not seem like much, but it’s pretty big. I had no problem staying up, even in the short period chop. Even when I was getting hit from the side, the board stayed pretty flat, but without feeling barge-like. There also wasn’t as much board slap as with similar boards. (My main ride for a while was an NSP 11’.) I’m not sure why. I figured the wide bow would present more surface area to the chop and make the ride rougher, but that wasn’t happening.

The board was also pretty directional. Even with just the stock fin, there wasn’t the constant need to switch from side to side. In the sidewinds the nose kept pretty straight on. When the Ricochet was pointed upwind, it wasn’t turning downwind very readily. This was a lot better than many boards of this class. I’ve never paddled an all-around that was as good in crappy conditions as this. The straight rails probably have a lot to do with this too.

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After fighting upwind for a mile it was time for a downwinder. Now that was really fun! The Hudson was having one of its odd moments when the current and the wind were going in opposite directions, which tends to make bigger, slower chop. The board felt like it really wanted to get on a plane. I got a few small rides, but even when I didn’t the board kind of sailed along. I’d love to surf this thing in small waves. I’m sure it won’t turn like a shortboard, but it will definitely get planing pretty easily. The board also responded pretty well to foot steering. My other wide board doesn’t steer well with weight shifts, which says a lot for the relatively flat design.

Examining the Pau Hana Big EZ Ricochet construction

pau hana big ez ricochet
Lots of little scuff marks. This will be something to watch out for.

The Ricochet material may be tough, but it does attract paddle marks. My KeNalu paddle scuffed it about ten times. I guess I’ll have to get used to that. Otherwise I think this is a good ride. My only design question is that maybe the 32” width is a little too much. I understand why it is so — this is a fleet board which needs to accommodate the absolute beginner — but it would be nice if this was offered in narrower widths too. Bic offers its durable line (now called Tough-Tech) in a variety of sizes, and Pau Hana could consider that.

This is probably as good a noodling around board as anyone could ask for. I survived tough conditions without even a fall. (Okay, I went to my knees once.) So it’s ability in chop has been tested and it passes. Over the next few months I’m going to try lots of other situations, and when I can shed my wetsuit, it’ll be time for some speed runs!

pau hana big ez ricochet, one board quiver, sup examiner
Early spring and a high tide on the Hudson.

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