I went to see my friends at Clavey and check out the new boards. I decided to Demo/rent a new one from them. I was looking at the Boardworks Raven and the new Surftech Bark/Laird. Both of these boards are 12'6" but I believe the Raven has more volume (it certainly looks thicker). The Raven looks to have some rocker in the nose and almost has a canoe shape where the Bark has more of a cutting bow.
I really liked the Raven. After the first few strokes, I could really feel the board accelerate and seemed to have really good glide. At the same effort, I would say this board is probably twice as fast as my Surftech Bamboozle 11'6". The rails are really square on the Raven and it felt a little tippy but that pretty much went away after a few minutes. This board does have a lot of volume and I felt like really tall on the water. I think the board is nearly 7 inches thick and is pretty thick throughout. I really like this deckpad more than the pad on my bamboozle, its not nearly as hard and rough.
It looked like I was creating quite a bow wake on this board and makes a bit of noise with all the water coming off the front. Even with all the water coming off, my feet stayed very dry. This board tracked very well and went into the wind quite well. I would recommend this board to just about anyone interested in flat water paddling. I would like to try a little downwind run on this board in Tomales Bay. I think it's fast enough to catch some bumps and it's got just enough shape up front to keep the nose out of the water. I think this board would be killer in small surf. Even a beginner will be happy with this board. I'm 230 pounds and had no trouble at all. I would imagine this board could handle a 260 pound rider pretty easily. Overall, really great board, fast, functional, nice colors and graphics and great price.
Here's a really nice video about the Petaluma River (Petaluma Slough). Check it out...