I bought a great 14 foot Bark (prone) from one of the racers after the Carolina Cup last year via one of the shops–I think it may have been Bark himself who raced it. Anyway, as I am liking the sport more and more would you recommend considering the longer boards–ie an 18 –I guess. I am mostly doing river paddling though may take it out in the ocean some. Not sure if I will race but may consider it–if so likely shorter distances under two hours. I love going fast even if not racing.
The answer to that question is – it depends. Unlimited boards are all about speed. They are really fun to paddle BUT you need to work your way up to them. To get those big boards moving it puts some extra stress on your arms and shoulders. We like to see most paddlers have a few seasons under their belt before they make the jump to an unlimited board. Spending some time on a stock or 14 foot board cant hurt and may help prevent injury. As a rule, we also don’t recommend unlimited boards unless you have the size and strength to get one moving and keep it moving. There is no rule as to what that means. We have some local guys that are not that tall but they are strong as an ox and we have some bigger guys that aren’t that strong at all. Our recommendation is to get out and test one somewhere before you purchase an unlimited board. Our recommendation is to also make 100% certain that you know what you are buying. All unlimited boards are not created equal. We would suggest buying new ad getting custom to ensure that it is a correct fit for your size and conditions where you paddle.