Gear Review: NSP 9’8″ Elements SUP Surf Board

NSP Element

Looking for a board to up my skills

I bought the NSP Elements 9’8” as a vacation board. I’m a very casual surfer. Big waves make me nervous, but I was hoping to change that. The only thing I’ve had for the surf so far has been an older 11’ NSP, so I was hoping I could up my game some with a smaller board. The Elements models were pretty reasonable, and it seemed like a 9’8” would be a good pick: small enough to do some maneuvers but long enough to do a little distance on flatwater.

More performance

I especially liked the four tie-downs on the nose in case I am going to explore a creek or natural spring. Compared to my 11’ all-around, the 9’8” has plenty of rocker. It also has much thinner rails and a curved deck. Subtle things, but added together they mean this is a board for the waves.

NSP Element

Some people might not like the intense green color, but I think it looks pretty sharp, like some sort of fish. It’s also eighteen pounds as opposed to the thirty pounder I’m used to. That, and the “Y” handle in the deck make it a pretty easy ride to shlep on and off the beach.

NSP Elements Review

I took the board into the waves in Jacksonville while on vacation. These were mostly waist-high summer waves, nothing a beginner couldn’t do easily. It took me a couple of tries to get onto a wave, but once I did, the board felt very responsive under my feet. Of course, I was used to surfing a barge, so almost anything might feel that way. It didn’t feel too small, just nimble for its size. I could do a front and backside turn easily.

A board to grow into

As a beginning surfer, I felt I had a board that was definitely better than I was. There was a sense that I could try pretty much anything I wanted on a wave with this board, and it would do it. Later I surfed the board with just one fin as opposed to the usual three. Wow, was that a difference. It felt so slippery underfoot, like any small movement would make the board go this way and that. I ended up preferring the extra grip on the waves the thruster setup gave me, but once I get better I’ll probably go back and forth.

With Flatwater Chops

Flatwater is where I do most of my paddling, so this green beast needed a good flatware run. I was training for the Cape Cod Bay Challenge at the time, so I was hoping the board would fill in nicely as a occasional training board. I did circular nine mile run on the Saint John’s River, going from one side of the river to the other and did a GPS track of the run. Even with a wind blowing, I averaged 3.6 mph over two and a half hours. For a 9’8” board, that’s a pretty good pace!

The one thing I don’t like about this board is that the Element’s construction seems a little flimsy. I put rail tape on, partially to hold a quarter-sized piece of paint that was flaking off. Another piece has flaked off the nose, and I’m not sure why. Considering that I keep the board bagged whenever it’s on the deck, that isn’t a great sign. This might just be an issue with the paint because the deck itself seems solid, which I hope, but it’s something to look out for. That said, this is a board that needs to be bagged, especially on a car roof.

Clearly I’m happy with this board. It’s the wave-rider I hoped for, with some reasonable flatwater ability. This is not the ride for someone looking to mostly do flatwater; it’s the opposite. With the price of this quite a bit under many other surf SUPs (I bought mine new for under $1,000), I think it’s a great choice for a first surf SUP.