Vol Metric and What it All Means
A confusing and misunderstood issues of board choice, is that of volume, generally specified in litres. This amount, also referred to as ‘vol metric’, was born out of the windsurfing years, when boards for wave sailing in particular, were reduced down in size to that of surf board proportions, to improve wave riding performance.
So small were these boards, those that sank under the feet of some sailors when the wind died or when raising the sail up when dropped, become known as ‘sinkers’. These sinkers, soon became defined not just by their length and width, but also by their vol metric size, so as riders could determine in relation to their body mass, how each would suit them.
Whereas years ago these boards would dip even below 75 litres, when you consider our smallest 8’6 Bali Tribe board for kids is 210 litres, you can appreciate this is a large board in terms of its volume, capable of supporting a 100kg paddler, but far from ideal for an adult paddler regardless of its volume in respect of performance.
Inflatable boards are generally high in volume and you should be more concerned with the boards length x width and how the volume is spread out through the design and take into account the boards stability in relation to your ability.
When investing in a hard board, there are certainly more radically created designs with less volume, but the rules still apply regarding consideration of the length x width and how the volume is spread throughout the length of the board. Our most radical hard board, the Squab 7’2 for SUP surfing, has a volume of only 99 litres, which makes it very much a ‘sinker’ for someone over 100kg. Therefore the advice here is to be less concerned over the vol metric size of the inflatable you invest in, but pay particular attention to more radical hardboard shapes more especially in relation to some of the high performance SUP surf boards.