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Boardworks Raven Review

This SUP is a great choice for experienced users that want to race or travel far and fast
Boardworks Raven
Photo: Boardworks
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Price:  $1,500 List | $1,049.95 at Amazon
Pros:  Fast, glides very well
Cons:  Hard to move, very unstable
Manufacturer:   Boardworks
By Marissa Fox ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jun 23, 2018
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61
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 8
  • Glide Performance - 35% 8
  • Stability - 25% 4
  • Maneuverability - 15% 6
  • Ease of Transport - 15% 5
  • Durability - 10% 6

Our Verdict

This exceptionally fast board is great for touring and racing — a favorite of experienced paddlers. While it isn't the most stable or beginner-friendly board out there, it's fast, tracks and glides well, and is reasonably agile. However, it's not for everyone and comes at a premium price. Those looking for a board for a casual day out would be better served by other models. Anyone wanting a high-performance model, look no further than the Raven.

Board Updates
Boardworks updated the design and aesthetics of the Raven since we last tested it, see the updates below.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Boardworks Raven
This Product
Boardworks Raven
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award 
Price $1,050 at Amazon$1,430 List
Check Price at REI
$995 List$1,650 List
Check Price at REI
$437 List
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Star Rating
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Pros Fast, glides very wellFast, stylish, stableRelatively inexpensive, lightweight, paddle includedStable, tons of capacity, glides fairly wellInexpensive, durable, stable
Cons Hard to move, very unstablePricey, felt a little more fragile than other modelsSo-so maneuverability, could glide betterHeavy, maneuvers like a boatMediocre glide performance, extremely slow in choppy water
Bottom Line This SUP is a great choice for experienced users that want to race or travel far and fastIf you are looking for the best of the best when it comes to stand up paddle boards, it’s hard to go wrong with the CatalystIf you are shopping on a budget for an all-around SUP, we think the Versa is a very good choiceIf you want a stable platform for fishing or carrying cargo, this board is hard to beatIf you are searching for a soild SUP on a skinny budget, then this board is a good choice
Rating Categories Boardworks Raven Surftech/prAna Cata... Isle Versa Rigid Pau Hana Endurance XL Sun Dolphin Seaques...
Glide Performance (35%)
8.0
8.0
6.0
7.0
2.0
Stability (25%)
4.0
7.0
8.0
8.0
10.0
Maneuverability (15%)
6.0
8.0
6.0
5.0
5.0
Ease Of Transport (15%)
5.0
5.0
6.0
4.0
2.0
Durability (10%)
6.0
5.0
6.0
5.0
9.0
Specs Boardworks Raven Surftech/prAna Cata... Isle Versa Rigid Pau Hana Endurance XL Sun Dolphin Seaques...
Measured Weight (pounds) 28.9 lbs 27 lbs 26 lbs 31.5 lbs 46 lbs
Board Volume (liters) 269 L 203 L 175 L 260 L Not listed
Weight Capacity 275 lbs 215 lbs 215 lbs Beg: 237 lbs, Int: 327 lbs, Adv: 417 lbs 250 lbs
Width (inches) 29 in 32.5 in 32 in 30 in 33 in
Length (feet) 12 ft, 7 in 11 ft, 2 in 10 ft, 5 in 12 ft 10 ft
Thickness (inches) 6.0 in 4.8 in 4.5 in 6.5 in 6.0 in
Fin Configuration Single tour/race fin, forward placement Single Single Single Single
Bungee Cargo System Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

Raven Board Updates


The current version of the Raven, at left, and the previous version that we tested, at right, are both single-fin, touring-oriented boards, and they are stunning. That's where the similarities end. The newer version is thinner and narrower with less volume.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Boardworks advertises this new shape as faster than the previous board we tested. It's certainly a racier template, so we wouldn't be surprised. These changes also make an already tippy board even less stable. For this reason, the current version is even less appropriate for beginners or casual paddlers than the version we tested. Experienced paddlers looking to optimize glide over all else may be stoked on the new Raven. See the spec changes below:

Previous Test Version | Current Version
Width: 30 3/16" | 29 1/2"
Thickness: 6 15/16" | 6 1/2"

Volume: 290 L | 286 L

Performance Comparison


The Boardworks Raven is an excellent, high-performing board that is ideal for touring and racing. While it isn't very stable and is far from a leisure craft, this is the perfect board for going far and fast.

Boardworks designed the Raven with touring in mind.
Boardworks designed the Raven with touring in mind.
Photo: Marissa Fox

To rank these products and award the winners, we devised five weighted testing metrics — Durability, Ease of Transport, Maneuverability, Stability, and Glide Performance — each with a handful of tests. Final scores ranged from 0-100, with the following sections elaborating on what the Raven did well and where it fell a little short.

The Raven glides well, but isn't the best at turning.
The Raven glides well, but isn't the best at turning.
Photo: Chris McNamara

Glide Performance


The most important metric of our test — Glide Performance — accounted for 35% of the final score for each board overall. We compared the speed and efficiency of each model through a time trial and a glide per paddle test, in both smooth and rough water conditions, with the Raven tying for the top score overall. You can see how this compared to the other boards in the group in the chart below.


In our flat water time trial test, the Raven received an average time of 66.88 seconds. When we repeated the time trial on choppy water, the Raven's average time was 108.21 seconds. Continuing its remarkable performance in this metric, it earned the top spot in our distance per paddle stroke test on flat water. The Raven took an average of 37.5 paddle strokes to cross our course. However, this board got upstaged in the rough water version of the test by the BIC. The BIC beat the Raven by about 2.5 paddle strokes on average. All in all, the Raven is a fast board that has excellent glide performance.

A few of our testers ended up in the water after discovering the...
A few of our testers ended up in the water after discovering the Raven's lack of stability in waves.
Photo: Marissa Fox

Stability


Moving on to our stability metric, the Raven didn't do particularly well. To evaluate this, we compared how each board did in rough water conditions, how it did at transporting cargo or additional passengers, and the opinion of novice paddlers when using this board.


The Raven handled well in rougher water when moving, but its stability drastically decreased when stationary — some of our more experienced paddlers learned this the hard way, taking an unexpected dip when a rogue wake came. This board is also narrower than many other boards, making it somewhat unsuitable for transporting additional passengers or significant cargo. In addition, this board wasn't the first choice for new paddlers, who much preferred boards with a bit more stability.

The Raven is above-average in terms of maneuverability -- a bit...
The Raven is above-average in terms of maneuverability -- a bit surprising for a touring board.
Photo: Marissa Fox

Maneuverability


To assess the maneuverability of each board, we conducted a time trial through a slalom obstacle course and measured the turning radius for each board when doing a U-turn. This set of tests comprised 15% of the overall score, with the Raven doing an overall above average job.


The Raven did exceptionally well in our slalom course, putting up the fastest time of the entire group with 81.13 seconds. This offset the Raven's mediocre performance in the U-turn test. We attempted to complete a U-turn without back paddling in one of the small lakes that we tested in. While most other boards completed this task without too much difficulty, while the Raven only made half of this turn before running aground and forcing us to abort the test.

A second set of hands is usually necessary to load this board...
A second set of hands is usually necessary to load this board carefully enough to prevent damage to it.
Photo: Marissa Fox

Ease of Transport


Next, we moved on to assessing the Ease of Transport of each board, which made up 10% of the total score. We based the scores for this metric on the ease of carrying and loading each board on a car, the ergonomics of the handle, and its weight. The Raven earned average scores for its ease of transport out of water, putting it right in the middle of the group.


This model is relatively easy to carry, only proving slightly unwieldy due to its length.

The large size of the Raven made it cumbersome to carry.
The large size of the Raven made it cumbersome to carry.
Photo: Marissa Fox

This model has a pop-out handle — a nice addition, making it a little easier to maneuver and giving you some more flexibility when carrying compared to the standard, recessed pocket found on most boards. The Raven weighed in at 28 lbs, 14 oz. in our test, about average in our tests, as shown in the chart below.


This model was a little tricky to load on a car, primarily due to its length, and usually needed a second set of hands to be done easily.

The Raven did dent slightly when we strapped it down with...
The Raven did dent slightly when we strapped it down with insufficient padding.
Photo: Marissa Fox

Durability


For the fifth and final metric, we evaluated the durability of each board. This metric — accounting for the residual 10% of the final score — consisted of looking at user reviews for common issues and examining each product for damage sustained in the course of testing.


Combing through online comments, we didn't find any common issues or widespread problems. However, we found some pressure dents and deformation on the board when we conducted a survey, appearing to be from the crossbars when transporting the board. We padded the bars, so it would seem that the Raven is a little on the more delicate side.

Value


The Raven is a performance board at a premium price — not exactly a bargain pick.

Conclusion


The Boardworks Raven is long, fast, and glides well, making it a great option for experienced paddlers — especially those that are going to go race or tour. It's a sleek and stylish board but its stability can be so-so, so this SUP isn't a great option for beginners. Intermediate to advanced paddlers who like to go the distance will love this SUP but should be wary about taking it out in rougher and windy conditions — even some of our most experienced SUPpers took some unexpected swims when a wake or wave came unexpectedly.
However, for those that want excellent performance on a stand up paddle board, the Raven is a solid bet.

Marissa Fox