What’s the next best thing to paddleboarding? A paddleboard with a sail! Sharie Seibert says this popped up in her mind a few years ago like the proverbial cartoon light bulb. “I was paddling in Magen’s Bay when off shore winds blew me out. I thought, if you had a sail how much fun would that be!”
Seibert has brought this concept to its conclusion with her Taloo-ard Paddlesail.
“I first duct-taped a shower curtain, which I had cut into a triangular sail shape, to my paddle and sailed ta’loo-ard (leeward). That sail was May 9 2011. Thus, began the journey of the Ta’loo-ard Paddlesail, which as its name implies is strictly a downwind sail. “Paddle up and sail down,” says Seibert, a California native who after a 30-plus year career as a school teacher relocated to St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, where her sister lives.
Seibert’s start in board sports happened many years ago when she began windsurfing in the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea. More recently, she launched into stand-up paddleboarding (SUP). It was a sport she took to like a duck to water, competing in races in all three U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Seibert became so enamored of SUPing that she became a certified instructor and taught local kids the watersport.
“I summer on Catalina Island, off Southern California, where some of my family lives. In 2011, those months were spent working with a local canvas maker. She and I developed the first paddlesail. That first sail was made with 5oz sailcloth and three Velcro tabs to wrap the sail. My sons and grandchildren helped me to test the sails. We learned a lot about what worked and what didn’t. For one, the sail isn’t recommended to use in more than 12 knots of wind. Two, to save enough energy to paddle back as it is a downwind sail. Three, that it’s possible to do a partial tack by sitting down on the board and dragging one foot. We had lots of laughs figuring out this idea of grandma’s.”
Seibert’s paddlesail is hand-crafted out of 1.5oz spinnaker cloth. Its dimensions are 60 x 45 x 58-inches (154 x 114 x 147cm) with a weight of less than 8oz. The sail is secured to the paddle by Velcro, where it then wraps around the paddle and is held tight by a Velcro strap when not in use. The sail, which unfurls in seconds, comes in five rainbow color combinations or a single color. Rolled up it fits neatly into an 8 x 12-inch (20 x 30cm) sail bag. A variation is the American Pride sail with a vinyl window. The largest is a Batten Sail which is 65 x 51 x 62-inches (165 x 129 x 157cm) and has two detachable fiberglass battens. Prices range from $75 to $179. Seibert attempted to make a clear all-vinyl sail but found it was too heavy to use or to wrap around the paddle well.
Seibert’s idea of a paddlesail certainly proved a winner. In fact, in 2013 she took an Entrepreneur Class at the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) and won second place and a $20,000 start-up prize in a Student Entrepreneurship Competition. This she has used to make and market her paddlesail.
“Some of the UVI students helped me to make a video of the product in Magens Bay. We all had such fun! After all, after you work your shoulders, delts and core to paddle vigorously upwind, the reward for all that effort is gliding effortlessly back down in that same sweet breeze,” Seibert says.
For more information, visit: www.taloo-ard.com
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.