SAN DIEGO, California - A lot goes into paddle board racing. From the board design to the training regimen, victories and heartbreaks are measured in half seconds, and are the direct results of the slightest variations in the subtlest of details. One unsung hero of race performance is perhaps the most obvious and utilized component of every board: the handle.
The LiftSUP handle was created in 2011 by SUP Think Tank founders Matt Friedman and Brian Szymanski when they realized that something was fundamentally missing from the board transportation equation. It became an instant game changer as the first reinforced, injection molded, 360-degree handle designed specifically for standup paddleboards. While the value might seem obvious in getting your board from the parking lot to the shoreline, there are some solid race performance benefits in the LiftSUP handle that every paddler should consider:
LiftSUP handles allow the racer to have solid control of their board during any portion of the race that involves carrying or holding the board. “A lot of the big races have a beach start, some kind of obstacle or gauntlet to run through in the middle of the race, or a finish line up the beach and out of the surf zone.” says Szymanski. “With the LiftSUP handle, either the racer or the board caddy is able to have a firm, 360-degree grip on the board to aid control when shoulder bumping and jostling with competitors or other caddies. At the very elite level, starts can make or break an event and being able to hold the board firmly, or in some cases hold the board and paddle in the same hand can facilitate getting in front right out of the gate.
2. Easy Carry
"LiftSUP handles enable racers to carry the board like a lunch box rather than having to take time to place under the arm and then remove from under the arm when ready to mount the board.“During short but key sprints at the beginning and end of a race, the LiftSUP handle lets the racer pick up the board and run with it like a lunchbox or suitcase.” continues Szymanski. “I have witnessed many elite level racers utilize this technique both leaving and entering the water. We like to call it the LiftSUP ‘Run, Drop n’ Hop’ approach to getting back on the board”.
3. Strategic Advantage
LiftSUP handles let skilled wave riding racers gain a strategic advantage when approaching the sand on the face of a wave. States Szymanski: “Adept wave riders can catch a wave towards the beach, bend down and grab the LiftSUP handle and be ready to start running when the board is still in knee to thigh deep water. If you follow the BOP races at all you have seen this in action on several occasions. There have been racers, that have lost ground on every paddling leg but gained that ground back, and then some, by using this technique.”
4. Eliminate Fatigue
LiftSUP helps eliminate fatigue. “Whether carrying your board long distances to the race area at crowded events or participating in races with board carries as part of the course, the easy to grip LiftSUP handle helps reduce arm pump or forearm fatigue. When comparing the LiftSUP handle to the industry standard finger wells, picture the difference between doing a traditional pull-up or doing a rock climbing style pull-up where only the finger tips are engaged. While both can be taxing, the round pull-up bar with full grip surface allows more grip with less effort. The forearms are a critical component of the connection between the paddle’s working surface area and the racer’s large muscle groups that do the heavy lifting during a race. Bottom line is, anything a racer can do to save their energy for the actual race will improve their finish results. Or, at least, make the event more enjoyable”.
5. Flush with Deck
LiftSUP handle are flush with deck when not in use and have no big openings to get your toes caught in. “During most races you need to move around on your board. Whether creeping towards the nose to get over the next bump on a down-winder or loading a rail to counter chop and wind, body position is key to maintaining the proper trim and waterline to achieve max speeds. The LiftSUP handle is flush with the deck when in the down position and the gel logo label on top that provides a tactile feel under your feet. Additionally, as you move around on the deck of the board there are no large openings or holes that you feel under your feet, and no chance of catching or injuring your toes.”
The LiftSUP can help deter thieves!
6. Theft Deterrent
LiftSUP handles protect your trusty steed. “High end race boards can cost somewhere between $2000.00 and $4000.00. With the rise in popularity and global awareness of our sport the incidents of board theft are on the rise. Nothing worse than doing a hard race or training session, going to refuel at your local eatery and returning to find your favorite race board missing. The LiftSUP handle has been tested multiple times at a third party destructive test lab and always comes back with tensile-break strength results in excess of 850 pounds, and shear break strength result in excess of 450 pounds, making the LiftSUP handle a great place to attach a lock that will deter thieves.
If your current board does not have a LiftSUP handle, don’t be discouraged. LiftSUP can be easily installed by a competent board builder or local ding repair shop. For more info on the LiftSUP handles, head to their website supthinktank.com/liftsup/.