SUP boards left right and center, are the days of epoxy and carbon fiber numbered? Some say it is!
With the release of Naish's new 'One' inflatable stand up paddle board,
once again the method of construction has been thrust into the
spotlight. Inflatable stand up paddle boards have been around for a
while, almost since the beginning of (modern day) SUP. Until now, boards
have been around the 10-12ft mark, with wide noses, not much rocker and
orientated towards the very occasional paddler, or space conscious
punter who doesn't really care about performance.
This new board from Naish is really different to the norm however, at
12'6" long and 30" wide, it just so happens to be the perfect size for
Battle of the Paddle racing, and that so happens to be the fastest
growing discipline in the sport. Coincidence? We think not - Naish have
big plans for the One. We'll get to that later.
So who else is jumping on the inflatable bandwagon? Starboard have
released three new inflatables this year, with not only a flat water
cruiser, but a dedicated white water board as well. Whitewater is
another area where inflatable boards are gaining a huge market share.
Why an inflatable board? The benefits are usually overshadowed by the
negatives for a lot of paddlers, but when space is an issue, the
inflatable wins. More and more of the boards are popping (excuse the
pun) up on yachts, seaplanes and in the back of small hatchbacks than
ever before, presumably because they're getting better. Early versions
of the inflatable SUP were bendy, had terrible fins and took performed
absolutely terribly in all but the tinyest of waves. Now, with removable
(G10 or carbon) fins, a much more rigid structure and nicer (albeit
somewhat lacking) performance in the waves, the gap between the solid
and the inflatables is being bridged quickly. Sure, for an elite racer
nothing will beat a full carbon board, but what if everyone had the SAME
One design racing is where Naish is headed with their ONE board. The
concept is sound, so as long as enough people get on board the project
and buy the ONE's, then a good base for cheap entry level racing might
emerge. It definitely strips the competition back to bare bones and puts
more emphasis on the paddlers instead of their equipment. Plus it makes
the sport more affordable for new paddlers to get into. The trial
series will be happening soon, called NiSCO (Naish International SUP
Class Organization) and the first competition is to be held in Lyon
France. All eyes in the SUP world will be on this event, and it could be
make or break for the concept.
If it takes off then other companies will start producing boards that
fit the one design requirements, maybe even a new class of one design
racing will emerge using fiberglass or carbon boards? Going further,
could we be talking about Stand Up Paddling being an Olympic sport at
the 2020 games? This could be the start of something huge for SUP. Then
again, it could be a giant flop.
Interesting times ahead... Will you be pumping up your next board?
( By seabreeze.com.au )