Paddlboarding is a great way to stay in shape for surfing, to explore the coast, to watch birds, and to cruise around in almost any body of water. Paddleboards, like surfboards, snowboards, skateboards and other devices used for moving through space, have evolved greatly in recent years. For years, Eaton paddleboards were the primary manufacturers of quality racing boards. Lately, Joe Bark has been turning out beautiful stock and custom boards. This summer I bought a slightly used Joe Bark 12' "Surftek" paddleboard in L.A. for $1,000 ("Surftek" is the nickname for lightweight surfboards/paddleboards built with Styrofoam and epoxy resin, rather than the more standard polyurethane foam and polyester resin). The board is feather light (22 lbs.) and lets me skim through the water like a water skeeter. Boards run from 12-19' or so. The 12-footers are the most popular partly because they are the easiest to transport and store. The longer boards are slightly faster in races (there are over 70 races a year in Southern California), but more cumbersome to deal with on land.
12' Surftech Bark Board
Available from The Frog House
To see a full range of boards, including standup boards, see Joe Bark's website