Here is a very interesting clip by John Hibbard from Red Paddle Co about inflatable technology. It shows you different constructions and an insight into how they are made which many people are unaware of. Although this clip is predominantly to show the new MSL Technology from Red Paddle co, the interesting part is the Single Layer construction detail. Single layer is used by many cheap and nasty inflatables brands and this construction should be avoided at all costs. Check out our full range of Red Paddle Co Inflatables here. If you can't afford a new one, look for second hand and you won't regret it.
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So last Saturday was stage 3 of the Baysup Frostbite Race series here in Bournemouth which is local club level racing. This series has been running for 6 years now and has been a fundamental part of racing in the UK. It allows newbie racers to get started and prepare for the race season or seasoned competitors the opportunity to race during the winter months. Cold and rainy conditions kept the race series living up to its name but still a good turnout considering. I was riding the Equinox and Scott Brown on the Vortex 23.5”.
With the Equinox being an open ocean board, it was going to be interesting to see how this went in lake conditions. The results were very good with me finishing 2nd behind Market Slater who dominated and Scott took 3rd. I got a good start and kept tight to Mark Slater for a lap then he hammered down but I still managed to keep my 2nd place throughout. The Equinox glides beautifully, the nose obviously is not as efficient as the Vortex but the overall design of the Equinox made it awesome on the flat. It’s a rough water board so it was great on the start line as the nose just ploughed through any chop from the other paddlers. Although this was a distance race, there were 35 buoy turns! This is because this stage was moved to a small lake as the river where we usually have distance races was flowing too hard due to the recent bad weather. I did a mixture of bow and pivot turns and it was awesome.
Scott had an unfortunate tumble at the first buoy which allowed me to push ahead. I could hear him breathing down my neck the whole way but I managed to stay ahead. Scott is clearly a faster paddler in a distance race but with so many buoys turns on the Vortex 23.5” and being a tad heavy for that board the result was superb.
So it was great to see the Equinox paddle so well on the flat. If you are looking at one board which can cover various water conditions then the Equinox has to be high on your list. The Vortex is out and out flat water and a true speed machine whereas the Equinox is the 4x4 of the range and can cover multiple terrain very efficiently.
So this week we've been paddling the Equinox and Vortex 23.5" and here's some info on what we think.
Being designed and tested in the UK by a highly respected shaper and paddlers (aka Chris ‘Bro’ Diplock, Steve West and Ryan James) these boards were always going to be great pieces of kit. Multiple prototypes have been created with Ryan testing and feeding back to Diplock to make tweaks to the shapes.They didn’t start to create an average board, they wanted to build something special and with the backing of a brand like Mistral who are pioneers in watersports, the relationship was always going to create something special.
The Equinox and Vortex are race and distance specific, you aren’t going to go fishing off these boards (well you could but you get my drift right?!). They have been designed for speed, glide and maximum efficiency in the water.
With a preference for ocean paddling, the Equinox is the board I was most keen on trying. I’m 100kgs and have been skeptical about the width being just under 25” as this wouldn’t be a board width I would usually consider. The first few strokes were a tad wobbly but after paddling a few hundred meters I found a good standing position and the wobbles were gone. The sea was pretty smooth with a light groundswell. The torpedo shape nose has been designed to punch through surf and be efficient upwind while extremely efficient downwind. Buoy turns took a few goes to find the right balance point and after a few dunks in the water I had it turning round the buoy with ease. Overall it felt great and I can’t wait to get back on it, especially in some downwind conditions. Caught a couple of waves too and it surfs a treat and cuts back surprisingly well. The weight of the Equinox is 10.5kgs which is a fantastic weight.
Now for the Vortex. The version we have is 23.5” and is the board that Steeve Teihotaata won the 11 Cities race on last year. Just looking at this board made me feel unsteady but I paddled it without falling in and it actually felt good considering my build. I love this board so much, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the width is right for my build but I paddled it well which is a good indication that it's not that scary. Need to mention that this board is a prototype and the production 23.5” Vortex has different volume placement and is expected to be more stable and I can’t wait to try it. When you paddle the Vortex you can tell it has been designed very very well. Once you get the right foot placement the water flows over the nose very smoothly. We’ll have a production demo soon in the 23.5” and 26”. The 26” could be a very popular board but I think many people will be surprised how stable the 23.5” is.
The boards were also used this week by an intermediate racer who is looking to get a new board for the up and coming 2016 season. The paddlers weight is 87kgs so as expected he found the Equinox extremely stable (even more stable than his current 14’ x 27” board). He found the Vortex a little tippy but it paddled so well well and cut through the water effortlessly. It was encouraging to hear him talk about these boards and hear the excitement of finding something fresh and new.
The key to these boards is to try them if can. Don’t be put off by the widths and keep in mind that these boards have been well designed by people who know their sh@t!
The Mistral Vortex and Equinox production 2016 models arrive at The SUP Store this weekend. Demo's available from next week so please get in touch if you would like to try them. We have the Vortex in 23.5" and 26"
Check out the new Mistral SUP page on our website. Here are just a few points on why we think Mistral is a brand you seriously need to consider if you are a racer:
- 9.7kgs approx. weight for the 14’ boards.
- Designed in Cornwall by Chis 'Bro' Diplock and paddle guru Steve West (author of Standup Paddle – A Paddlers Guide which has been called the ‘SUP bible’ plus various other Outrigger Canoe books)
- Tested by UK’s leading paddler Ryan James.
- Demo’s of the Equinox and Vortex (14’ footers) will be available early February. Slipstream and Malia (12’6’s) will be end of February early March
- Stock arrives in late March and we’ll have Vortex, Equinox, Slipstream and Malia
- Surf and All-round shapes we are currently waiting on delivery dates but we expect this to be May.
Testing these boards is going to be crucial. The widths look scary but we can assure you that you’ll be surprised how stable they are. These boards have been expertly designed.
Pre-orders are being taken now for any of the boards – no deposit required. Boards can be collected in Bournemouth, delivered by SUP Store if not too far away or delivered by courier to your door. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to make your reservation. All pre-orders will receive a custom made board bag.
At the Baysup Frostbite Race Series stage 1 last weekend I managed to sneak a quick go on Ryan James’ Mistral 14’ Vortex flat water race board. This is a brand new shape for 2016 as a part of the Mistral re-design of their entire range. With paddle guru Steve West in charge and prototype shapes coming out of the Diplock factory in Somerset, Mistral have an exciting 2016 year ahead. Ryan’s Vortexis 24" wide and I was shocked at how stable this board is especially given my 101kgs. It had excellent lateral stability and when the board was put onto its rail, it handled it with ease rather than throwing the rider off. The standing area is sunken to give a lower center of gravity with dug out sides so you can extend your standing width. Any board of this width that I’ve paddled has been way too tippy and I’ve not been able to put effective paddle strokes in due to the instability. The glide was also incredible with a perfect full 14’ waterline which is something that many boards just don’t have. The downward curvature of the nose displaces water with ease and a gentle flow is created over the top. Not sure I would fancy this board in choppy conditions but it’s made for flat water racing and if you are looking for a flat water race board then this should be a the top of your list for consideration. For prices and availability please call or email us.
Probably the mildest winter on record with temperatures reaching 17c in December has meant it's been a pleasure to surf this winter. We have seen some great sessions unfortunately all very windy so not much SUP but plenty of longboard action on the Starboard Surf 9'3 . Still the most amazing longboard I've ever ridden, far superior than your usual PU board. Only the people who own them or have tried them will know..
Just back from another awesome time at the Starboard world dealer conference where the 2015 range of SUP's were on display. Costa Brava isn't known for it's surf but a strom in the southern med sent a swell up our way so we were greeted with some shouler high sets which was a pleasure. We got to try loads of kit as always and it's a phenomenal range as always. The standout boards for us were the Touring range which are very quick through the water but have the versitility to chuck a pack on and head off on an adventure
The BaySUP Frostbite Racer Series finals and Head Of the Dart 2014 provided some great racing to kick off the spring. Good results for SUP Store with 3rd place 14ft in Frostbite and 7th in 14ft class at Head of the Dart. My Starboard All-Star 14' x 26" was performing beautifully. Two very different races and the All-Star excelled in both.
Coming over the finish line at Head of the Dart
Frostbite Race Series podium
Check out the Starboard Astro Tandem inflatable! What a great way to get the family on a SUP or enjoy a gentle paddle with your partner...