Dave Mel has been shaping windsurf and surfboards on Maui for over thirty years and during that time has amassed an incredible amount of experience and passion for the craft. Over the past few years, Dave has been translating that passion into a line up of custom performance stand up paddleboards and the results have been nothing short of exceptional!
Canmore, Alberta based Stand Alone Surf is the Canadian distributor of Dave's boards, and they graciously provided us with two of Dave's creations a few months ago, and we're pleased to provide our feedback on the first of two boards, first up is the smaller of the two, The Waimea...
Here is the board's vital stats:
- For paddlers 125-215 lbs
- Length 10’ 6”
- Width 31”
- Thickness 5”
- Volume 154 liters
Note: We tested the 2010 model, which is still available in the current line-up, but the board is also available in 10'x30" and 11'x32" for the 2011 season, so there's something there to fit everyone's needs!
The Waimea is the big wave or whitewater charger in Dave Mel's SUP lineup, and though I've only had the chance to surf it in 1-4 ft reef and beachbreak, if this board perform anywhere near as well in the bigger stuff then he's got an absolute champ on his hands, as I personally found the mix of maneuverability and tracking/glide is absolutely perfect for smaller waves as well.
The Waimea is never going to perform as well as a smaller pocket rocket SUS type shape on the waves, and it'll never glide as well as a 14' cruiser on the flatwater, but in my opinion Dave has found a great mix of surfability and glide for an all-rounder with the this board.
This thing glides into waves as it should for a 10'6, but once it's up and riding it seems to lose a foot of length, feeling more like a 9'6 with regards to maneuverability and overall feel... Sort of strange actually!
Flatwater tracking is surprisingly good considering its length and the amount of nose rocker, and could be substantially improved with the addition of something like Larry Allison Race fin, or the Starboard Bamboo Race Fin... Something with a bit more surface area to assist with improving the board's tracking on the flatwater.
And the special feel of a handmade board makes the experience all the nicer... With a beauty retro swirl colour scheme, hand written model notes and more, this board just reeks soul! Added bonus is Dave uses Goretex vents instead of an annoying stainless steel vent screw. This allows for the automatic escape of expanding and contracting air, which is a real a damage risk with most epoxy boards.
One of the most impressive characteristics of this board, as if the overall performance wasn't enough, is its exceptional durability. I've been surfing this board on the rocky beaches of West Vancouver a fair bit lately, and I've had a couple impacts that would have seriously dinged most other boards, but I dunno, there's something extra durable about this construction, it just seems to bounce off the rocks and keeps on surfing.
And if there ever is a need for repair, have your Ding All Epoxy Stik handy and you'll be back in the water within minutes!
In Conclusion, the Waimea wouldn't be my first choice for flatwater, but 'd say if you're surfing 60-70% of the time, want to get out and tour once in a while, and only have room in the garage for one board, then this is definitely worthy contender. For me it'd be number one on that list.
We'll be putting together a complete review on the Dave Mel Kahuna model as well a bit later in the Summer.
The 2011 Dave Mel Stand Up Paddleboard line up will be arriving at Stand Alone Surf sometime in early July, so be sure to get in touch with them if you're interested, as supply is limited and I'm sure they're going to sell out fast!
Thanks for reading, and for more information, check out Stand Alone Surf's website.