Winter Carbon Board Care: Tips From the People Who Make Them

Marie Buchanan Starboard
Global Partner

Standup Journal caught up with Ollie O’Reilly, Product Manager for Starboard SUP, to ask (finally!) about the concern and care we should all be considering regarding carbon raceboards in winter temps.  Here’s what he had to say:

Marie Buchanan Starboard
If you’re going to put your carbon board out there in cold water temps (40 degrees F or lower), here are a few winter board care tips you can abide by.

Ollie, we get a lot of questions at Standup Journal about proper care & storage for  carbon raceboards during the winter months.  Can you give us your expert opinion on winter care to help preserve the longevity of these boards?

Carbon Board Care:  Tips from Starboard SUP

Standup Journal:  In your estimation, what is the best storage option for a carbon board in temps below 30 degrees Farenheit?

Ollie:  If the board is totally dry after use, then it can be put in the board bag on a rack. However, if there is any possibility the board is wet, do not put the board in the board bag wet. There are two reasons for not storing a board wet in a bag:

1 – It can create the conditions for osmosis to form which is a natural chemical reaction which can cause small bubbles in the paint.

2 – The EPS core of a board acts a bit like a silicon pouch that is used to suck any moisture / humidity. Therefore if there are any small cracks on the board or if the air valve is slightly lose, the EPS will attract any moisture to reach inside the board. This overtime can deteriorate the EPS and cause it to become soft.

The safest option is to leave the board on a padded rack with the air valve out so water can escape from the board.

Larry Caine Starboard SUP winter rider
Larry Cain puts his carbon boards to the test in extreme cold temps on Lake Ontario as he trains through winter. Photo by: Rob Kavic

Pull the Plug or Keep it In:  Releasing Pressure in Carbon Boards

Standup Journal:  Should users pull the plug out of the board in between uses in case it swells/contracts due to cold weather?

Ollie:  Yes  remove the valve – see above. If the valve is fixed in the board in cold conditions, the board can be at risk of imploding, as the fibres will contract. In hot conditions it’s the opposite, the air trapped inside expands with the potential for delamination.

Starboard All Star ice flows

Icebergs, anyone? Effects of Cold on Carbon Board Construction

Standup Journal:  What is the effect of breaking through the ice on your carbon board? Not heavy ice but skimming through a top layer to get to clear water?

Ollie:  I don’t see any affect here apart from the obvious potential for scratching the paint or slight ding depending on how thick the ice is. But what you describe – there shouldn’t be any damage.

Scott Feierstein Starboard all star iceberg
In icy conditions, take care of your board – just as you would do in the heat of summer. Starboard North America team rider Scott Feierstein celebrates winter. Photo by: Evelyn O’Doherty

After Care for your SUP Following Winter Paddles

Standup Journal:   Is there any ‘after care’ you would suggest for a board that’s been run in cold water temps (30 or below) to take care of the construction?

Ollie:  No – if you were fluctuating between extreme heat and cold then it might have a higher risk of problem, but it should be fine to use as normal.

Stay Cool:  Fluctuating Temps Affect Carbon More than Cold Does

Standup Journal:  Anything else?

Ollie:  The boards are generally very robust in a range of temperatures. In general there is normally higher risk of problems with delams associated with higher temperatures and less problems with colder.

Thanks Ollie!  For additional suggestions on how to store your board for winter, read:

Let’s go, winter!


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Evelyn O'Doherty, editor & publisher of the new Standup Journal 2.0 is a former school teacher gone rogue. She left her career as a teacher in order to spend more time near or on the water after learning to surf turned her life around (upsidedown?). She is a year-round surfer and paddler living on the eastern tip of Long Island in NY who is a certified SUP instructor, seasoned SUP racer and avid longboard surfer. Evelyn was hired as Online Editor to Standup Journal in 2016. Her passion for the project quickly led to her success and eventually taking over the mag herself in Oct. 2018. Today, as editor, publisher and chief bottle washer at Standup Journal, Evelyn keeps her toes wet writing, traveling, paddling, surfing, and learning to foil. You can find her most days paddling out on Gardiner's Bay or surfing Ditch Plains in Montauk, NY.