Posted by: old_user on Jul-23-12 3:31 AM (EST)
Board selection definitely plays a roll if you're competing against kayaks and canoes with the board you're currently using. I have the same board, and compared to racing SUP, it's pretty slow. You should with a good fast race sup and an efficient stroke get your speed up a few knots.
The race/touring style sups much like a kayak or canoe have a pointed nose which is far more efficient than a rounded nose. also easier to paddle upwind and through waves. aim for a 14' or longer board, and a width stable enough to paddle comfortably yet not too wide to slow you down. Check out the Bark board and similar designs.
Paddle style doesn't affect as much and there's varying different opinions on whether to use a narrow or wider blade width, etc. definitely a carbon paddle is easier to hold and ultimately faster than a glass or alloy design. I use the werner nitro which does well for speed.
a fast tahitian stroke use to be the thing, but not many are using a shorter cadence for starts and finishes in races, often holding the paddle at the shaft to help get a shorter cadence with a longer paddle. definitely take out at or before your feet.
with a fast racing board, carbon paddle, and a great forward stroke, your spee will def pick up. learn to paddle on one side or limit how often you need to change hands. this is best done by keeping your paddle shaft vertical while padding the board's rail.