The conditions today were less than ideal…rainy, 15mph winds gusting to 25 mph, and white caps on the lake. But my excitement over trying out new demo paddleboards overrode my dislike for whitecaps and rain.
First out was the Voyager 12’6. It is a LOT of board! It is a displacement hull with a whopping 275.6 L of volume, and 31.5” of width. This is the most stable board in the Riviera lineup and it is about as stable as any dock I have stood on. It should be well suited to riders 175 lb and more…much more.
I started off heading into the wind and was pleasantly surprised with how quickly I got going. There was no losing ground when switching sides or taking a breath even while paddling head on into the wind. Turning was a little more work. After taking two steps back the nose was out of the water. The wind spun me like a top, but trying to turn against the wind was a feat of strength.
Going into the wind and having the wind behind me both made for a pleasantly smooth ride. Having the wind and chop come at me from the side was a little tougher. The stability was still there, but it was much more difficult to stay on track. That was a bit of a fight.
There are some neat features on the Voyager. There are plugs for tie downs in the front and the back of the board. You could camp out on this thing. It would be a great board for fishing…you could load it up with all of your gear and not lose a bit of stability.
Also all Riviera paddle boards now have a paddle carrying handle which is very hand friendly. No more cramped hands. Their deck pads are also very comfortable under foot.
The 11’6 was a pleasant surprise. It is also incredibly stable. At 33” wide, you wouldn’t expect anything less. But what surprised me was the combination of stability, maneuverability and glide. It handled everything the chop and wind threw at me with ease. It was a little slow to get going in the wind and wasn’t as forgiving if you wanted to switch sides or breathe as the Voyager, but it was easy to keep on track, and very responsive to little adjustments. When I wanted to turn a simple sweep stroke was almost as effective as a pivot turn. Back paddling also spun me around quickly. Your choice. When the chop came from the side it was still easy to keep on track and the thought of getting tossed in was far from my mind.
I took it to a sheltered spot to try to get a better feel for how the board glides without all of the wind and it was very nice. It was smooth and easy to get going. It didn’t feel sluggish at all which was a concern I had before heading out. It was fun. I walked all over it and stayed completely dry. I could see it being a nice board to do yoga or some other type of fitness class on because it is so stable.
Usually I don’t like 33” wide boards…my arms are short and it’s a little hard for me to wrap them around a board that wide. That wasn’t much of a problem with this board. It boasts 210 L of volume. That should make it another excellent choice for riders weighing 200 lb or more. But that shouldn’t deter smaller riders who want maximum stability. This is a great board to get started on and to grow with.
The shapes have been tweaked this year to provide increased surfing performance. The nose and tail are both pulled in nicely and the rails are designed to provide additional maneuverability in the surf.
Overall, I was very impressed with my first trip out on these two boards. Riviera paddle boards seem hard to beat for the price. The 11’6 is $850 and the 12’6 is $1100 as of the writing of this. They are a little on the heavy size, but still much lighter than other relatively inexpensive boards. All in all I think the performance and price make it worth putting up with a little extra weight.