Business news :Is inflatable the way of the future for Stand Up Paddle?

With companies releasing inflatable 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 board?

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 )

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