C4 Waterman Switchblade

The lightest and sleekest we tested, this 12-foot-6-inch long-distance board, also known as a displacement-hull board,is very responsive and accelerates quickly with just a couple of strokes. Though not as fast as true race boards (which often cost $1,000 more), the 32-pound Switchblade is ideal for long-distance coastal cruising and recreational racing. At just 28 inches wide, with a small roll in the hull, it's slightly less stable than other boards, but our testers adjusted quickly and enjoyed harnessing the extra speed to drop fellow paddlers. [$1,425; c4waterman.com]