Sun Dolphin Seaquest 10 Review
Cons: Mediocre glide performance, extremely slow in choppy water
Manufacturer: Sun Dolphin
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Seaquest 10 did finish towards the back of the group, along with the California Board Company 10'6". The Seaquest is substantially more stable than both of these boards. Testers almost never fell off the Sun Dolphin. The CBC glides a bit better, making it more suitable for longer paddles, but is a bit more delicate when it comes to transporting. However, the Seaquest is the least expensive of this trio, usually retailing for at least a hundred bucks less than the CBC.
To determine which SUPs truly reign supreme, we spent the past two summers buying the best boards available and comparing their performance side-by-side. We've divided up our testing procedure into five weighted rating metrics — Glide Performance, Stability, Maneuverability, Durability, and Ease of Transport, with the Seaquest's performance described in detail below.
The most important of our testing metrics is Glide Performance, which constitutes 35% of the total score for each stand up paddle board. We conducted two different tests, assessing how efficiently you could paddle each board in both ideal and windy conditions, scoring each SUP on the distance traveled per stroke and the average cruising speed of each board. Unfortunately, the Seaquest 10 got off to a bit of a rocky start, meriting a 2 out of 10 for its rather poor glide performance.
Due to its boat-like nature — calling it a kayak in disguise wouldn't be a stretch — the Seaquest 10 is not fast compared to the sleeker SUPs tested. It has a much broader cross-section than many of the other boards, resulting in significantly more drag when paddling. It feels like you have to displace tons more water to move forward, and it covers much less distance per paddle stroke. There would be no contest in a race between this board and a more touring-centric board, like the Boardworks Raven. Someone could be leisurely paddling that board, and you would have almost zero chance of overtaking them in the Seaquest, no matter how hard you tried.
The Seaquest also struggled a bit more than some of the other boards to hold speed in rougher waters. Its cruising speed and distance per paddle stroke both fell off as the waves increased. Additionally, there is a molded seam around the perimeter of the board that appears to catch a substantial bit of water from each wave, further inhibiting the Seaquest's already lackluster glide performance.
The Seaquest 10 dramatically improved its performance on our second metric, earning a perfect 10 in stability, which accounts for 25% of the total score. We scored each board on its ability to transport cargo or multiple passengers, its handling in rough water conditions, and how comfortable novice users felt on the board. The Sun Dolphin did very well in all of these tests, putting it right at the top of the entire armada.
This stand up paddle board made it a breeze to paddle in windy or rough conditions. Our testers never fell off this board inadvertently, except for one tester who crashed straight into a willow when she was looking at her phone to send a Snapchat. (Luckily, newer phones are quite water-resistant.) This board also has a convenient dry storage well, though we wouldn't necessarily trust it with sensitive electronics or other items that can't get wet.
This SUP is also quite stable when paddling with additional loads. Its glide performance is already so poor that it can't get much worse. So you don't notice any extra resistance when paddling with a bag or cooler on the back. Luckily there are plenty of convenient storage points and straps to secure your gear, as well as a built-in cup holder!
It would also do well at carrying a small child or dog, though it is a bit on the short side for multiple adult paddlers.
These traits combine to make this board one of our favorite for beginners, even those who have never been paddling before. It's relatively easy to step on and off the Sun Dolphin from the bank or shallows, and its unshakeable stability will soon inspire confidence in even the most hesitant newcomers.
Next, we moved on to assessing how agile and maneuverable each SUP is. This accounts for 15% of the total score. We judged our general impressions of navigating around obstacles as we tested them out in local rivers and lakes. We also tested turning radius. The Seaquest is about average.
Overall, we were pleasantly surprised by this board's maneuverability, expecting it to be much, much worse due to its hulking nature. It's a pretty big leap to call this board nimble, but we could usually avoid hitting obstacles without too much effort, though it might require a bit of frantic back-paddling. Its turning radius is quite large, but not unmanageable, with the Seaquest essentially feeling like it is about 1-2 feet longer than it is.
Ease of Transport
Moving on to evaluate the Sun Dolphin's performance out of the water, we graded the difficulty of moving this board around, which also accounts for 15% of its total score. We considered the weight of each board, the ergonomics of the handle, and the difficulty in loading it on a car when determining the scores. The Seaquest 10 did quite poorly. Its rating was mostly weighed down by its, well, weight.
In our tests, this board weighed in at 46-pounds and making it one of the heaviest boards in the group by far. It has 20+ pounds over the lightest models.
Luckily, the molded handle in the middle of the board is pretty comfortable and works well. Moving the board short distances isn't too bad if you can get past the bulk. It also has a soft handle at the back of the board so you can carry it with two people. This is our preferred method.
The board's bulk also makes it harder to load up on roof racks, especially if the car is tall. Hefting it overhead for anything taller than a mid-size SUV usually requires two people. However, this board's construction means that you can be a bit more relaxed about padding your crossbars, which brings us to our final metric.
For the final 10% of the score, we judged how well each stand up paddle board held up to the rigors of our testing process. We looked at any damage sustained in the course of our testing or for common issues mentioned in user reviews when deciding on scores, as well as the included warranty. While the Sun Dolphin did sustain some damage in our tests, it was all cosmetic. This board is borderline indestructible.
We took this board on trips that we wouldn't dream of taking a fiberglass board, such as down a somewhat rocky and obstacle-filled river. We also weren't exactly gentle when moving this board, tossing it in and out of trucks and strapping it down stacked on top of other boards or kayaks. The most noticeable injury the board sustained is a dent close to the bow of the boat, caused by hitting a rock straight on at a moderate speed.
This is cosmetic, aside from slightly weakening that area, which would only prove problematic if we hit that same spot again. However, some users have complained in reviews that the board would quickly fill up with water. The two-piece construction method for this board does leave this as a possibility, and there is a drain plug located at the back of the board to drain it, but we never had to. Conveniently, Sun Dolphin includes a limited lifetime warranty for the original owner, which covered boat hulls at the time of writing. However, you should always check the most updated terms on the manufacturer's website before purchasing.
This beast of a board excels in rivers and we routinely use it for that purpose. Its almost bulletproof construction can handle impacts with most submerged objects and the Sun Dolphin is plenty stable for moving water. In fact, we generally prefer to only paddle this board with the flow of water, as it can feel quite difficult to paddle with its lackluster glider performance. It does fine in larger bodies of water but we sure wouldn't recommend taking this board on any longer tours unless you want the extra workouts — paddling this board can feel akin to running with ankle weights.
The Seaquest 10 is a great value, offering decent performance at an unbeatable price. It's not particularly amazing compared to the best boards we have seen, but you could buy an entire fleet of Sun Dolphins for about the same price.
If you are looking for a solid family board that won't break the bank and isn't going to get easily broken, then the Sun Dolphin is the clear choice. It's great for taking out on the lake or river without worrying about damaging it, provided you have a friend to help you move it. You should look elsewhere if you want a touring board, but otherwise, the Seaquest 10 is a stellar choice if you are shopping on a tight budget.
— Marissa Fox