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!
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.
The first thing you’ll notice about this paddle board is the sleek outline with a pointed nose that slices through the water.
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.
The nose is tall enough to ride over small wind swell if you are doing a downwinder.
The bottom has only a small amount of rocker which makes it a fast and efficient SUP.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!