A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post on my experience with the Sandwich Island Composites (SIC) X-12 in open water and going in and out of the beach break. Cathy wrote a post on her time with the SIC Recon during that paddle. This week, it was my turn to try out the Recon on open water. To preface, the X-12 is a displacement hulled paddleboard that has amazing glide and directional stability for flatwater pursuits, whereas the Recon is a planning hulled board that is much more versatile. I paddled the Recon a number of times on the lake and really fell in love with how comfortable and stable it felt but it is also fast, has really good glide, and still turned effortlessly. The SIC Recon feels like a board that wants to do many different types of paddling and do them well. It’s one of the best all-round paddleboards I’ve ridden.
We put in at the URI Bay Campus beach and headed south towards the mouth of Narragansett Bay. The head wind was blowing at a steady 8 to 10 miles per hour out of the south, which made us work a little harder but certainly nothing close to some of the more extreme conditions that we’ve found ourselves in (link to Jamestown post). The first thing I noticed as we headed upwind through the mild chop was how at home the Recon felt on the moving water. At 11’11” and 31” wide, the Recon has plenty surface area to feel comfortable and stable in the open water, so much so that it feels like it has the stability of a much larger board. Waves moved over and under the board without overpowering the smooth and easy character of the ride. I did feel the token vibration that all planing boards get when slamming down after going through a sizable wave, but it was not excessive and did not affect the board’s overall performance.
As we travelled up along Bonnet Cliffs the currents became more complex as incoming swells bounced off the rock cliff faces and collided with the oncoming surf. The Recon handled turbulent water extremely well and I wasted little energy trying to stay balanced. Planing hulls have a distinct advantage over displacement hulls when the water (and wind) is hitting them from the side. They are not as vulnerable to getting jerked from side to side as much making for a much more stable ride. On the other hand, in calmer and flatter water conditions, a displacement hull, like the X-12, will be much faster and have a lot more glide.
After we passed the cliffs and Bonnet Shores beach the wind started to pick up a bit and the ocean swells came at us a little faster. There was also a big increase in the number of speed boats darting in and out of the bay, which gave us some annoying wakes to deal also. Even though I wasn’t travelling as fast as I would have on the X-12, I was much more stable, which allowed me to paddle harder and deal very easily with those boat wakes. We continued on to Whale Rock, a small reef islet that was once home to a lighthouse before it was swept to sea by the Hurricane of 1938 along with the Lighthouse Master. We have paddleboarded to this spot before and it’s a fun destination with lots of wildlife and great views of the coast. Since the Recon has a relatively low-profile deck (low to the water) it allows a bit of water to sweep over it as you are paddling into the wind. After a while my toes began to go numb from being awash in water all the time, which is really my only gripe about the board. And it’s not even a valid gripe since a) ocean water in the Northeast is not warm and b) I should’ve just put my Sockwas back on.
On the return journey we had a great downwind ride. The Recon is incredibly good at catching bumps and making the most of them. The sleek surf outline and rockered nose allows the board move wonderfully along crests of waves. I was also able to turn across the bumps and change direction very smoothly. This was by far the most fun I’ve had on an all-round paddleboard. As we made our way back along the cliffs the wind picked up even more giving us a lot of good waves to hop on and cruise back to the beach like bosses!
The SIC Recon is an amazing all-round paddleboard. It has a shape that really allows it to perform great for a number of different styles and conditions. It’s also a very affordable board that friends and family of different ages and sizes will have a blast on. It comes in 11’11”, 11’4”, 10’4” and also a 9’9” for mostly surf. Go check out your local SIC dealer and demo one- I guarantee you’ll have a lot of fun on it!