By Tez Plavenieks
Innovation is a difficult thing to grasp when you’re used to convention. Nah Skwell’s SCOW is a case in point. With appearances very different to perceived ‘normal’ stand up paddle boards it could leave many scratching their heads in wonder.
The SCOW’s rounded nose and dinghy-like bow ensures heads turn anytime you rock up at the put in. There was a lot of interest during testing with inquisitive looks and questions – it seems the SCOW is on many paddlers’ radar, but hesitancy due to lack of convention may be causing doubts?
The term ‘dinghy’ has already been mentioned, and in fact, Nah Skwell’s design team have based the SCOW on sailing boats of the same name. You can fully understand their thinking – during sessions the nose floats efficiently above the water like a magic carpet. Standing forward of the centre is a unique feeling with the SCOW almost hovering – much as you would feel perched on the bow of a boat.
Nah Skwell bill the SCOW as: ‘a race board that overcomes the drawbacks of conventional ‘sharp nose’ boards – but also applicable for downwinders’. We can certainly see lighter paddlers using the SCOW to good effect in comps – once the initial hurdle of unusual looks has been vaulted. Not needing the board trimmed flat, to avoid bow rolls and associated swims, means the SCOW will suit all paddlers though.
Standing on its defined sweet spot the SCOW reaches an impressive top speed for its size, especially up and downwind at coastal venues. It picks up small to moderate bumps easily and projects the paddler into the next stroke. Changing course is a doddle with slightly wider blade sweeps easily keeping it on line – it doesn’t lock on course as a sharper nose SUP would.
With this in mind, paddling across chop and wind is a little trickier – the tail and nose feeling quite loose, preferring to weave more than expected. Moving back a touch alleviates this, especially when weighting a downwind edge. This engages the sharp rail and wide tail, pushing the bow in the direction of intended travel.
Nah Skwell boards (like all brands) have a distinct feel, summed up mostly for them by the term ‘glide’ – the SCOW is no exception. Keeping it tracking requires a tad more effort than a pointy bow, when on very flat water, but there’s no denying the momentum driven from a single paddle pull. A relaxing ride, due to its latitude roll, which along with easy directional changes give it considerable inherent stability, resulting in a sweet fitness/cruiser or racer.
The stock fin is good, with Nah Skwell having invested some time and effort in this department to reduce draft and weed catch. If racing the SCOW, trying different skegs for tuning could still be a good idea.
An unusual looking but innovative beast, Nah Skwell’s SCOW is a head turner, but one that performs. Floating effortlessly above chop, its magic carpet ride is most at the fore when sweeping coastal venues. Admirable top speeds make it applicable for lightweight racers while downwind aficionados, who paddle in moderate swells, will appreciate its pick up and glide traits.
Price: £1199 for OSSE full wood sandwich, £1599 for OSSC full carbon and both inc. anti weed fin.