Evergreen Whisper SUP Review…

14 04 2012

Laura paddling the Whisper SUP near the Selkirk Trestle...

When I first got interested in stand up paddle boards there were really only 2 choices: 1) surf inspired shapes and 2) race boards. The race boards were so long and narrow that they weren’t really useful to most paddle boarders which means 95% of SUPers ended up on surf shaped boards. That worked out fine since surf shapes were fairly stable and easy to use. However, once you got your SUP legs under you the same surf shape that was so easy to use didn’t deliver the performance even a moderately athletic flatwater paddler wanted due to their big rounded noses and significant amounts of rocker. Not to mention that many stand up paddle boarders didn’t live anywhere they could surf!

Lovely Evergreen Whisper 12'6" SUP with bamboo finish...

That’s sort of where I am at since I live within a frisbee’s throw of the Gorge Waterway in Victoria, BC, but I am 2-4hrs away from the nearest surf breaks. So when my friend Andy at Kite Paddle Surf Bellingham  mentioned he was selling a new line up of SUPs called Evergreen I was immediately drawn to the flatwater friendly shape of the Whisper.

She is sleek...

The first thing you’ll notice about this paddle board is the sleek outline with a pointed nose that slices through the water.

Built for speed...

This means a lot more of the energy from each paddle stroke goes into driving the board forward than it would with the fat rounded nose on a surf SUP.

Flat rocker and moderately tall nose to deal with small swell...

The nose is tall enough to ride over small wind swell if you are doing a downwinder.

Flat bottom rocker...

The bottom has only a small amount of rocker which makes it a fast and efficient SUP.

Generous rail volume and single fin...

The single fin design limits drag and allows you to fine tune the directional stability based on where you place the fin in the fin box.

Note the adjustment possible in fin box...

During my test paddles I kept the fin all the way towards the rear of the fin box to maximize the board’s tracking stability. I want a SUP that is fast and stays on course when I am paddling flatwater. That of course means she doesn’t spin around on a dime.

The back end...

The square tail has lots of volume so you can step back onto it for rides down small swell and the flat shape will absorb the energy from and waves efficiently.

EVA deck pad installed...

You can get this board with an EVA deck pad installed or naked showing the spectacular bamboo finish. I checked out both versions of this SUP and I’m torn. The EVA pad is very handy and makes for a simple traction solution, but I really hate the idea of covering up that bamboo finish. You could get a naked Whisper and use wax for traction, but that’s messy and you won’t get to enjoy the bamboo that way. I think I’d spend the $$ to put clear traction material on this SUP like the NSI Clear Grip I put on my bamboo kite surfboard recently.

I love bamboo!

When I said above that the first thing you’ll notice about this SUP is its sleek outline I may have lied. The bamboo finish is really beautiful and especially on a SUP without a deck pad it really grabs the eye.

Resting between paddle sessions...

Beauty is only skin deep though. The construction of this SUP is a 1.5lb EPS core covered with 2 two layers of 6oz cloth and epoxy then a 2mm layer of real bamboo.  The finishing layer is a polished polyester resin that brings out a really warm colour from the bamboo layer. The test board I have was used as a rental SUP last season which means it got abused – a lot! Other than a few marks and couple chips on the nose it has survived really well. I take care of my boards really well so that means one of these SUPs in my fleet would stay minty fresh looking a long long time.

Flatwater SUP and classic surf SUP...

You can see in the photo above how different the Whisper is from its cousin the Evergreen Legend surf SUP. The fat round nose and lots of rocker gives the Legend the ability to play in the waves, but that comes at the expense of flatwater speed/efficiency.

SUPing under the Selkirk Trestle...

Standing on the Whisper I was impressed how stable it was for a 29″ wide SUP. It has a lot of volume and floats my 175lbs frame + gear easily. I could throw a dry bag on this board for some coastal SUP touring  no problem. You could also fish or take photos/birdwatch off the Whisper without needing to focus on staying out of the water the whole time. That’s ideal since even on a performance board like this you aren’t going to be racing 24/7.

Cruising on the Whisper...

If I was starting my SUP fleet from scratch the Whisper would be the first board I’d get. It’s perfect for the flatwater recreational and fitness paddler. It’s so much faster and easier to paddle than my surf shaped SUPs I can’t really ever see myself wanting to paddle them on flatwater again. I’ve been spoilt. What I really like is that the added performance comes without needing a crazy long board that’s hard to transport and impossible to turn. The Whisper is so easy to paddle I got two friends out on it for their first ever SUP paddle and they went from zero to having a blast in only a few minutes.

Easy to learn on as a first SUP...

Typically performance SUPs come at a premium price. I was looking at a fast SUP at MEC just prior to testing the Whisper and it cost a cool $2400 for just the board. So I was a bit shocked to see the Kite Paddle Surf has a Whisper SUP package on for $999.00 that includes a carbon paddle, deck pad and a bag for the board. When I bought my first SUP a carbon paddle and bag were $500 on top of the cost of the board.

Paddling the Whisper...

So what are the downsides to the Whisper?:

  • at 12’6″ it’s longer than a typical general purpose surf SUP which tend to run around 11’2″ so it takes a bit more effort to transport/store
  • you are not taking this baby to a surf break to hang ten
  • the sharp point at the nose is a bit delicate so you don’t want to give this SUP to the kids to play with near the rocks!
  • it’s not fast like an dedicated open ocean race SUP
  • however it is fast enough you won’t have an excuse for losing a friendly SUP race
  • Kite Paddle Surf Bellingham is the only Evergreen dealer at the moment which means you’ll have to get your SUP shipped if you can’t swing by Bellingham WA to pick it up.

Gliding along on the Whisper...

Overall I was very pleased with my experience on the Whisper. It’s the first SUP I’ve tried in a long time that has really got me thinking about a new board. The paddling efficiency and straight tracking mean I can go a lot further with less energy. The stability means I can give it to Sharon so she can easily keep up to me when we paddle together and it’s not going to be a hassle to stay upright. Finally the package price is compelling at $999.00 including a paddle and bag!

Lovely day for a paddle...



7 responses

14 04 2012

Dang! Not only is that a beauty to look at, but as you mention, a beauty at that price! If I hadn’t just spent a wad on cycling stuff (power meter and Garmin 800), this would be close to an impulse buy. I still think about doing SUP stuff on the Columbia River here (technically, Lake Wallula).

14 04 2012

@Ian – the great thing about SUPing for a cyclist is you get an upper body/core & cardio workout without using your leg muscles which often could use some time off.

14 04 2012

At $999 with a paddle and a bag I have to question the quality, but I guess if you are not going out in waves there are far less stresses on the board.

2-4 hours from the nearest surf breaks though? If you are downtown you are as close as 45 minutes to a great spot on the right day, 75 minutes most days, and 2 hours to a world class spot just about any day!

14 04 2012

@Tony – the low cost is due to cutting out the wholesale/distributor layer of the logistic chain.The Evergreen SUPs come from the sane factories all the other SUPs come from. Given how the rental board I tested out held up to abuse the quality is as good as all the other SUPs I own.

Given my level of skill Jordan River is the closest break I feel comfortable surfing at. That’s closing in on 2hrs with traffic to get out to. The other surf spot is Tofino which is 4hrs+ away.

15 04 2012

Looks like a nice hybrid between race and touring SUP, and competitively priced at 1000 for the whole package (I wonder what shipping a 12′ board to NY would cost?!). If I don’t build my own board, this is definitely a contender.
Thanks for the review.

18 05 2012
Evergreen Legend SUP Review… « The Lazy Rando Blog…

[…] You can read my review of the Evergreen Whisper SUP here. The Legend I tested is made up of the same beautiful bamboo construction and has also survived a lot of action as a rental board in the Kite Paddle Surf Bellingham fleet. Aside from some beauty marks the Legend I have looks great. She looks great! […]

13 12 2012
Scott Voelker

I purchased the Whisper last year and launched it in early March on the Ohio River. It was really the worst case scenerio. The water temp was in the low 40’s, there was a noticeable current, I was at winter weight, which I’ll record at 210lbs, and I had never SUP’d before. I thought I’d done all the research, I fell in love with the board and it’s description, but I had no idea that my weight was to become such a factor. And the current did not help at all. If I wasn’t pointing directly into the rivers flow the energy pushed me sidewards; once I paddled out of a large eddy and the board nearly got swallowed. But I essentially survived my first launch, and I never dunked. I write because One should be aware that this board does not like over 200lbs, 195lbs ok. And any current more than a slow flow will give you problems. I stick to the lakes and lazy river type water conditions. The team at KP&S were very professional and I will shop with them again. Stay on top, Scott

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