VIDEO: To Come
To take this board through its paces it went on a winter trip to the South of Italy and then to Gran Canaria which presented a nice mix of conditions to test out the board's capabilities.
If you don't want to read the whole text the summary is - awesome inflatable board for flatwater that also manages small chop and swell really well, great bag, perfect travel companion and ideal for those without storage for a rigid SUP who are looking to get into flatwater training, touring or racing.
Opening - As expected it comes in a relatively small box! Which, to be honest doesn’t have quite the same wow factor of getting a new rigid SUP or surf board. Inside you get all the bits: Naish pump, pressure gauge, repair kit, valve removal tool, quality rucksack, fin & board. As soon as you lay out the board you feel that you have something pretty good - it feels so light and with a great shape, just can't wait to get it inflated!
Inflating - With the supplied hand pump and gauge it takes about 5 mins to manually inflate to 14 PSI (recommended pressure). As with most ISUPS, the last few PSI will be where you put the real work in! Spending some time and energy inflating your ISUP is a fact of life that is hard to see as a fun part of the experience - though two things may help: convince yourself it is part of your warm-up or get an electric pump! We found that an old electronic air-bed pump was a perfect fit and was ideal to get 80% of the air in the board!
Don't forget to set the valve controller before pumping so you don't lose any precious air when removing the pump!
At 14 PSI the board feels pretty solid and performed well. The UK Naish rep reckons higher PSI is no problem and of course would further improve the board's ability to hold its shape when in rougher conditions.
Board Shape - As you can see from the images, the outline is similar to many 12'6" race boards. The bow, with the slight rocker, allows the front of the board to rise slightly in flatwater conditions - so this is of course not a displacement bow. Heading out through small surf, the nose rises easily; coming back in with some swell, the bow isn't too prone to submarining.
However, if riding surf, you need to be prepared to move quickly to keep the bow from diving which it will do if your weight isn't moved fast enough. The square tail really helps with stability on buoy turns and also when running with the swell - being an inflatable you also get some help here with the board absorbing some of the water disturbance.
The tail though has no rocker built in which helps with flatwater speed but, as with most inflatables, if you're on swell there will be a a degree of flex in the board introducing some rocker. Also at the tail is a heavy duty D-ring to secure your leash.
Rucksack - Has well padded shoulder straps and a horizontal chest strap - comfortable enough for a 10 min walk to the beach each day. Though you may want a heavier duty bag for airline use. Aside from this, the Naish bag is easy to load and has space for all that you need inc your travel paddle towel, wetsuit etc.
When packing the board into bag think about position of the fin box/mounting point, making sure that this is not going to be against your back if you have far to walk - unless you want a massage!
Fin - The board uses a single fin configuration. The supplied fin being quite raked and with good length for the board. This slides into the fin box and is locked in place by a plastic clip which works fine. Just be careful not to lose the clip though it is attached with a cord. Being removable means that it can be larger and stiffer than the fixed ones and also when you remove it you can roll the board into a smaller package for storage/transportation. Potentially you could replace it but probably not really necessary as the supplied fin seems to really suit this board.
Be careful when inserting the fin not to have sand in the fin box as this can make removal really hard!
Watch out for the edges of the fin base - they are a bit on the sharp side and could potentially cause abrasion to the board when removing. Easily prevented by some sanding.
The fin works well with the board shape and straight line tracking was great. Dimensions being approx 28cm length and 16cm width.
On the Water - Test sessions were a mix covering mirror smooth water, choppy conditions with wind at 15knts and swell 1-2 ft as well as some downwind with variable bumps mostly behind but some side-on backwash.
The most remarkable thing was that the board did not seem to behave much differently to a rigid board, well except in steeper waves where the narrow nose needed more control to keep from diving. Balance seemed to be assisted by the slight softness of the deck and the rails were round enough to not trip easily in the downwind pieces. People new to ISUPs often have pretty low initial expectations - this board amazed the people who jumped on it for a demo, they loved the tracking, stability and the ability to ride small swell.
On perfect flat water, the board really came alive - gliding across the sea with a feeling of efficiency. There were no opportunities to speed test the board with a rigid board but that will happen soon enough. The feeling when paddling was very positive and directional tracking great so this will be fun to race on - you really have a feeling of moving quickly through the water which is quite different to the more surf oriented ISUPs.
Grip on the deck is spot on, very comfortable and effective bare foot and no issues with rubber boots either. The deck markings canbe useful when advising new paddlers where to stand in different conditions. The handle is well placed at the balance point of the board, amazing how this still isn't always the case with SUPs.
Leash attachment is a solid ring, no issues there.
The board has a front tie-down area which is handy for all sorts of things but a good security attachment point if you use a board mounted camera. Our GoPro Surf mount stuck just fine to the front of the board, the board surface texture prevents a suction mount - well at least for us. But we'll keep an eye on the surf mount as over time this may come loose.
In summary, this board was a real surprise - easy to pump up to required pressure range, great performance across varied conditions and weighing in at just 10.8kg so no problem for your travels, just add a travel paddle and a durable flight bag and you're all set for a SUP vacation!
We see this being hit for those with limited storage space, boat owners, travellers wanting to ensure they can make the most of vacations or business trips, any anyone wanting a durable and fun way to get into SUP for touring, fitness or racing.
OK, I've read enough, let me BUY IT!