Differences Between Planing and Displacement Paddle Board Shapes

Any decision made when purchasing a paddle board has seemingly endless variables. From your size to the size of your budget, from flat water to ocean, and from planing to displacement hull shapes. Weighing in on advice from experts, including both your friends and your competitors is a great start.

What Are The Hull Types?

The hull or shape of the paddle board comes in two basic designs – planing hulls and displacement hulls. The planing hulls are the wider, flatter shapes that ride on top of the water and are good for stability and versatility to include surfing. The displacement hulls resemble more of the V-shape of a typical boat bottom meant to slice through the water for speed but potentially sacrificing stability.

Right there you have some facts that can help you decide. Your ability, the type of paddling, and water conditions you will be enjoying will match up to either displacement or planing boards.

Let's Compare

Displacement boards are fast on smooth water. From the Stand on Liquid 11'0" Sammamish to the Naish 12'6" Glide Touring, there are options to fit your needs and your budget. Planing boards are best on choppier, more dynamic water. The Pau Hana Big EZ 11'0" is a great example of a planing hull. A displacement hull focuses on providing minimum drag and is designed to be aerodynamic and fast.Then there is a hybrid type of board that adds part displacement and part planing for a versatile experience.

Let's jump to the most basic part of paddling success and enjoyment - in any condition. The equipment usually plays a small role in race results compared to technique and fitness levels of the competitors. Your fitness and technique play a huge role in how quickly you will finish in a race. Are you an elite paddler? If so, a slight percentage advantage from your board might make a difference. For the average recreational paddler and racer, your stability, confidence, and comfort will make the difference for fun and your love of the paddling experience.

This video from Robert Stehlik of Blue Planet has some valuable insights as you make your decision around planing or displacement boards.

Good luck in your decision. As in most important decisions, if you can demo a variety of paddle board types you will come to your decision with the most confidence.

stand up paddle board hull shape types