Monday, October 11, 2010

The Naish Mana 9' Review

The Naish Mana is bamboo with epoxy and a 3/4 length pad. It’s dead sexy. At 9' you can cram it inside your minivan or suv. Here are our initial thoughts on the board.
First, to establish a frame of reference. I am 70kg, my wife is less. We have owned only 2 prior true SUP boards. Starboard Drive 10'5, RRD Wassup 10'. Prior to that I SUPed on old windsurf boards like the Mistral Superlight and Bic Bamba. The following is a collection of thoughts on jumping from a well regarded first SUP board (Starboard Drive) to a completely new class of SUP board. This is about going to a high performance SUP and does not compare the Mana 9' to other similar boards in this class since we have no experience there.
The summary for folks in a hurry:


• 140L, 29.5” wide and 9' but still surprisingly stable. really.

• LIGHT. Easy to handle out of the water and in the impact zone after you get trashed

• funboard surf board shape- surfs like a much smaller board

  • lightweights can engage the rail standing more in the middle rather than having to be on the tail
• makes getting out through white water easier and even fun. *Low tow factor.

• pivots on a dime

• tracks well while paddling if forward of the carry handle

• anti-pearl nose?

What could be better

• need non-slip on the nose.

• have to remove fins to zip board bag

• where is the mast track?


I first tried the 9' Mana at Carolina Beach surfing with Dwight and Jacky. Thanks again guys. Jacky traded with me so I jumped off the 10'5 Drive after a few hours of great long period hurricane Igor waves. I immediately noticed that I lost 16 Liters and 1.5 feet. You have to find the right standing position on the Mana but this comes quickly. I also noticed I was better off with a narrower stance. The board is only 1/2 inches less but certainly easier to dip a thinner rail. The waves were at least shoulder high, easy and conditions were glassy. I've been in strong off shore wind before and there you need to jump on the nose to get the drop. In the Igor conditions you had to paddle like mad and run to the nose to stay on the swell even with no wind. Luckily DW added non slip to their Mana so I was able to catch the waves early on the nose, throw a few turns and nose ride. After 2 waves on the Mana I felt like I had been on it much longer so comfort comes quickly.
More recently at Hatteras I took the Mana out first at Frisco in glassy left handers on the outer bar. I was blown away by how well the board punched through or jumps up and over incoming surf. I jumped into the surf stance putting down some deep strokes and kept right on trucking. Once on the back side of the wave you can jump back to normal stance to paddle the rest of the way. This offered a new fun factor for me- it is actually a blast taking on the white water.
Riding the 10’5 Drive taught me to run nose to tail while catching and riding waves. I immediately missed being able to pounce on the nose to get the late drop on some fast forming sneaky Hatteras waves. Second nature took over a few times and I ran to the nose only to slip like I was on ice. My non slip product has shipped and should arrive by the end of the week!

I hit Old Lighthouse beach with the Mana for a much more stringent set of conditions. The waves were big, somewhat inconsistent and there was a psycho-chop component that really forced me to concentrate on balance. Again I missed the nose traction but aside from that I was very impressed how well the board handled late big drops. Quite a few times I ended up on the tail with back foot on the kick pad following the falls and coming out standing. Another huge plus is that when in the impact zone eating a huge wall of white water while off the board I don’t get towed by the leash all the way to shore. The Mana has much less surface area so I assume that offers much less for the wave to hold on to. The result is that even if I get knocked down or bail in front of a top to bottom closeout I don’t lose much ground while trying to get out. I’ll call this a much lower tow factor since I’m into *nameology.

Flat Water

Leah first tried the board on a weekend at the lake. That means plenty of boat wakes producing psycho chop and a few good swells to ride. She never fell in the course of the afternoon. Not once. I was blown away. Moreover the Mana has more glide than the Drive. I certainly had a tough time matching Leah’s speed. The deck pad isn’t as cushy as other boards but the Mana is just as fun in flat water as the 10’5.

About that Missing Mast Track

We are not content to surf the early morning sesh and bail for the day. Instead we tend to stay morning to dark and in the course of a typical day you can get wind. Putting a sail on the Drive is a blast since you can catch sooo many more waves. I wonder why Naish doesn’t add a receiver for the 8mm Chinook base? Is it simply that there is no market or does it have more to do with construction? Sure I realize the board will schlog but you would be doing that anyway on a windsurf board.
I think this board suits anyone looking for more maneuverability and excitement.
Initial quality is impressive. I hope the construction holds up well since I plan to keep this one for a while. Any thoughts, concerns, or outright disagreements?

For more expert opinions and advice check out NC Paddle Surfer.


  1. you would think King Robby would have added a mast track....why I won't get a Mana even though it sounds like a great board...I want one SUP surfboard that I can also go light wind wavesailing.

  2. My thoughts exactly Mac. I think Naish puts tracks in the Nalu series. I'm not sure what happened with the Mana. A board this light would be much easier manage with a sail.

  3. I've got mixed feelings about the mast track issue. I don't think these boards are constructed like out windsurfing boards (could be wrong!) therefore I think you would find a lot of crushed rails (due to the widths) and mast track inserts ripped out. Maybe that is why they do not put them in there, just because of the warranty issues that could arise? They already have to deal with that on the windsurfing side of the house.

    For me I would rather keep things separate. For a windsurfing board like a SUP, I would look heavily at the Sea Lion.

  4. Brian,
    I agree. As soon as I tried the Mana bamboo I knew I was getting a board nearly as fragile as my 7'4 fiberglass surfboard. We are talking egg shells when you own fiber glass surf boards.

    I realize that a sail on this particular Mana would be bad idea for this construction. The issue is that it is the only construction- My question is when Naish will make a 9' Mana in a heavier construction and if there will be the option of sailing those. Most companies websites give little clear information, especially Naish, when letting the consumer know which models have the sail option.

    I'm in the process of learning more about how board manufacturers get their information about what to design next. I'm also trying to learn more about construction and tradeoffs involved in contruction components such as mast tracks.

    The bottom line is that there are no light air windsurf wave boards that compare to sailing a SUP in the waves. Not even in the ball park. In light wind a 140L board that surfs this well would be a BLAST wave sailing too!

  5. I believe if Naish makes a heavier construction of the 9' Mana with a sail insert I would have to have it :]

  6. Here you go. Not a Naish Mana, but offers the windsurfing option in a sub 10' board.