Surf Expo in Orlando is a trade show that occurs twice a year allowing stand-up paddle boarding vendors to show off products and introduce their newest offerings. The Expo this past September was an opportunity to find some interesting and unique new SUP boards and accessories that are sure to be a hit. Below are some interesting finds.
There were a lot of new stand-up paddleboards introduced but one stood out as something completely different from any other at the show. Live Watersports from Clearwater, Florida, has a line of stand-up paddleboards that utilizes a patented catamaran style hull that makes its SUPs fast and extremely stable. With a full line of boards ranging from ones that look like a traditional board topside and with a catamaran tunnel hull on the underside, to their flagship board that has two distinct hulls and a wide stable deck, these boards are truly innovative and worth a look.
The L2Fish 12.6 inch by 34 inch board is easy to paddle and extremely fast, with Joana Cleckner of Live Watersports explaining that it is as fast as some traditional race boards. She goes on to explain that the hulls provide a much smaller wetted area and thus create less drag, making it a very easy paddle. Because of its design it is a good choice for large paddlers, taking kids or your dog along with you or as a stable platform for fishing and yoga. Delivery on these unique boards will begin in December 2014.
Bote, another innovative stand-up paddleboard manufacturer from Florida, showed its new products at the Expo. It had a couple of impressive planning race boards on display made from a new composite material developed it calls Chainmail. This material is a combination weave of carbon fiber strands and plastic. Designed to be as strong as carbon fiber but with more give and forgiveness than traditional brittle carbon fiber this material allows for lightweight and strong boards without the care and maintenance issues of pure carbon fiber boards. When a traditional carbon fiber board is impacted it is weakened and can crack, whereas this material absorbs the impact and is much less likely to be damaged. I was told that is will be offered not only on Bote’s racing boards but also as an option on its line of boards in the near future.
There was a plethora of inflatable SUPs at the show. It seems that the technology utilized in these boards has improved as the vast majority were extreamly rigid and felt more like a solid board than an inflatable. One of the best-looking and high quality inflatable boards offered was again by Bote. Its new Drift 11’ 6” inflatable SUP at first glance looks like it is one of the company’s standard boards with a simulated wood deck, but this one you can deflate it, roll it up and stick it in your trunk. A perfect solution for anyone who is unable or unwilling to store and transport a bulky rigid SUP, these boards look good, function well and stow away even better. The Drift even has the possibility of using the tackle rack system that is so popular on Bote’s other fishing boards. Details at www.boteboard.com
The innovative boards I mentioned in this article are extreamly stable but if you have a board that is less than perfect for fishing, yoga or even learning to SUP there was a solution to your woes at Surf Expo. Jeff Turner, the sales manager for Kwik Tek, the manufacturer of all manner of inflatable water toys and towables, showed me a new line of “SUP training wheels” that complement its expanding line of inflatable SUPs and accessories. These SUP stabilizers are contoured tubes that inflate and strap onto and wrap around the sides of your board. They provide additional flotation, creating a more stable platform for paddling or activates such as yoga and fishing. If you have a faster, less stable board and you want to bring along a child or a furry friend, these also aid in making the paddle more comfortable for all. They are offered in a couple of different configurations.
For those of you who enjoy venturing out on your stand-up paddle board at night there is a new product that will turn your board into a light platform, illuminating everything underneath you. Nocqua, an innovative company from Winston-Salem, NC, has come up with a set of LED light strips that strap to your board or kayak and are powered by a rechargeable lithium ion battery. They produce a very strong light (1000 lumens from each of the two strips) that will illuminate everything under you as you paddle. Now not only the big yachts in the marina can light up the water but evening paddlers can enjoy the glow of lights as they paddle, illuminating the water and underwater life around their board.
These lights are instantly becoming popular with SUP outfitters who are using them on their rental fleets and arranging night paddles. The system is very simple to attach as the two light strips encased in plastic tracks are strapped to the hull with easily adjustable nylon webbing. Installation and removal takes no time. The battery can run both strips for 90-120 minutes and a second battery can be switched out easily while out on the water. There is even a setting on the switch that puts the lights into a mode that flashes SOS in an emergency. Getting out on the water at night gives paddling a whole different feel and these lights can just add to the fun.