Fresh in from paddling, Mark Raaphorst looks like he’s just walked out of a wind tunnel. Standing in front of SIC Maui Custom, the stand up paddleboard shop he opened in Hāli‘imaile, Raaphorst looks much more at home than at work.
During his surfing days in Holland, Raaphorst learned to build boards from carbon fiber in 1984. His love of the sport led him to Maui, where a decade later he was building outrigger canoes. He became hooked on the burgeoning sport of down-winding—riding open-ocean swells ten-plus-feet high—and he developed his own stand up paddleboards for that purpose. Back then boards were made with foam cores, but Raaphorst figured, why not make them hollow, like canoes?
Since then Raaphorst has designed some of the fastest, lightest SUPs in the world, helping athletes win competitions in Hawai‘i and abroad. He started work on a new prototype around 2008. “I wanted to build something that’s good in all kinds of conditions—upwind, refraction off the coast, confused waters—and so the Standamaran was the perfect toy,” he says, gesturing to his own shiny new red one. The Standamaran combines the stability of a catamaran with the speed of a paddleboard. Two long, narrow, pointed hulls are connected in the middle, forming a deck. It also has dual rudders for greater control. As SUPs go, “it’s kind of the evolution,” says Raaphorst.
Some twenty Standamarans have been shipped all over the world, from Chile to Japan to Belgium. One Canadian man, intrigued by its stability, asked about a version with a specialized deck so his wheelchair-bound son could join him on the water. Raaphorst was so eager for the challenge, he built it for free.
The Standamaran isn’t for the casual enthusiast; the base price is $5,300. It is, in Raaphorst’s words, “a luxury, unique item.” There are custom options, including the paint job—polka dots and camouflage are not out of the question. You can even get one with thicker hulls for durability around rocky coasts, or thinner hulls to fly past competitors in the racing circuit. As one “Standi” owner put it, “If you ride it, you will want one. The only downside is everyone wants to ask you about it.”