Recently a friend asked me if I could give her another windsurf lesson. She had found a new rental place that offered inflatable Windsurf / SUP boards. Seemed a great opportunity to test this upcoming trend in water sports. We rented one and experienced a few important Pros and Cons of using them. Here are a the Pros and Cons we found. And some more valuable info.
What are the Pros and Cons of windsurfing on an inflatable Windsurf / SUP crossover board? A definite Pro is the wider range of uses for one particular board. That can be interpreted as more value for money. Cons are on the more specific use side of the board. I general crossover products are designed to offer the best of both worlds. That probably means that concessions have been made. For example, if the board is inflatable, it is easier to transport but the stiffness while surfing could be affected. As a result, the top speed and balance on the board can be affected. This can be seen as less value for money on a specific use.
A variety of new products have found their way to the waters in the last couple of years. Inflatable boards, SUP boards and crossovers with windsurf boards seem here to stay. Sails and complete rigs for deployment on SUP or crossover boards came along with them. This makes choosing what to buy for your hard earned cash perhaps a little harder. There is just so much to choose from. While the new products definitely fill a niche in the market, there are pros and cons to using them.
One thing is for sure. You can only windsurf on a SUP board if it has a special slot for connecting with the mast base of the sail to it. See pictures below to see what I mean. Without the ability to connect a sail to the board, windsurfing is impossible.
Image: The mastbase in the special slot. And the slot itself.
If you want the SUP board to glide over the water powered by the wind anyway, you could try a WING to propel you forward. A Wing is handheld, and thus doesn’t need a connection to a board.
Example of a handheld WING to propel a (hydrofoil) surfer forward.
Depending on your wishes and needs some features can be a Pro or a Con. Therefore I will not only describe my experiences testing an entry level inflatable Windsurf/SUP board. This blog also provides you with a lot of info concerning seizes, volumes, weights and other features like prices, that might be relevant while choosing between the many different options.
Bonus Info at The End
At the end of this blog you can find a list of features that I consider a Pro on a (inflatable) crossover Windsurf / SUP board. First I continue with my testing experiences.
Pros of Crossovers SUP/Windsurf Boards And Rigs
A definite pro is the fact that the board can be used for multiple purposes. Both entry level windsurfing and SUPing can be done on just one board.
Most windsurf trips I did had an average of 50% windsurfable day wind wise. I have rented a SUP on occasionally when there was no win. SUPing around was great extra water time and also great exercise. So, always having a SUP board with you can be a nice advantage.
Cons of Crossovers SUP/Windsurf Boards And Rigs
Biggest Con that I experienced was the reduced ease to sail upwind. As I mentioned that was on an inflatable crossover.
A little online research showed me that inflatable boards often come with a smaller daggerboard. I guess that was the cause. A second cause could be the fixed mast foot position that seemed to be relatively far to the nose of the board.
For comparison of a.o. the daggerboard you could check the:
As I mentioned, I believe that in most cases, when concessions are made, high end performance on one single usage can be compromised. Therefore the crossovers can be great for learning. But even to this there seem to be exeptions.
When you want to do advanced windsurfing like jumping or wave riding more specific boards seem to be more appropriate. Some brands seem to make crossovers that even try to help you out beyond entry level. An example is the 2019 RRD Wassup. They have volumes as low as 135 Liters. And no daggerboard. I have not had a chance to test boards like these.
To get a feel of what non inflatable crossover boards look in 2019 you can I share a few links that I used for my little online research. I even saw some boards having a rail to position the mastfoot where needed. That would have solved the upwind sailing issue that I experienced.
For an example you can check out:
· Exocet WindSUP 11’8. This board has a 61 cm daggerboard and a 44 cm fin. That should give a lot of upwind sailing ability.
Pros of inflatable boards
The biggest Pro is the fact that they are so easy to travel with in a deflated state. And, of course, that makes storage a lot easier too.
Many boards I found online, like the BIC 10’6 Wind Air, come with an oversize backpack.
Unfortunately I can’t find the sizes of the backpack on the website. It looks like the height of the backpack is a little more that the width of the folded, deflated, board. That is 32’’ / 81 cm. A lot smaller than the 10’6’’ / 320cm length of the inflated board.
Cons of inflatable boards
The inflatable windsurf /SUP board we tested was, I guess, an 2016 or 2017 model. As I mentioned, developments seem to go fast. So the Cons we experienced might be resolved in the 2018 or 2019 models.
Furthermore it was just us testing them, so these results are to be considered personal and subjective.
Having said that, I felt like sailing upwind was the biggest CON. As a result tacking was a lot harder for the friend that I was teaching than on a regular entry level board with a large daggeboard.
Perhaps a larger sail would have made this easier. The 3.0 m2 we used felt like it’s central power point just could not reach behind the central power point of the board.
We stopped trying to tack and did a few jibes instead. That went absolutely fine.
Last Con I need to mention to be complete is the risk of a puncture. Many boards I saw in my research had a repair kit delivered with them.
Although the board felt a bit less stiff that the hardbody boards I am used to, it was pretty easy to sail. Actually I was impressed by the stiffness it did provide after all.
Summary table* (indications quick online search 2019)
|Board type (Entry level)||Cost in online shop* (without discounts)||Pro and Con|
|Windsurf||$949,95 – $1299||Designed for only one usage, but good at it|
|Windsurf inflatable||$1499 – $1949||· Easy travelling and storage
· Less stiffness & risk of puncture
|Stand Up Paddle (SUP)||$695 – $945||Designed for only one usage, but good at it|
|SUP inflatable||$695 – $995||· Easy travelling and storage
· Less stiffness & risk of puncture
|Windsurf / SUP crossover||$1299 – $1599||· Multiple usage
· Might be less suitable for more advanced or specialist windsurfing
|Windsurf / SUP crossover inflatable||$959 – $1299||As above plus risk of puncture.|
(Disclaimer: This publication does not constitute an offer and no rights may be derived from its contents. Of course offers on websites might have changed since I wrote this.)
Features I consider a PRO:
As promised: features that I consider a PRO when choosing an (inflatable) crossover Windsurf / SUP board:
- Handle at the top deck for easy lifting
- Foot straps for a little more advanced windsurfing
- Does the package include a peddle and a pump?
- Does the package include a set of fins, including a large enough daggerboard (middle fin) for easy entry level windsurfing.
- Thick padding on the deck for comfort and grip
- Stiffness of the board when inflated (for stability and speed)
- Removable mast foot
- Does the package include a matching rig (sail, mast & boom)? Or does the manufacturer offer one or more in different sail sizes?
- Depending on your needs: Outline (more SUP or more Windsurf oriented? Compare for example the Starboard Whopper and Touring
Extra info about the new sport Hydrofoil Wing Surfing
Recently I started learning Hydrofoil Wing Surfing. Since you read this article I assume you might be interested in this new, easy to learn watersport. I found that, compared to windsurfing, I needed less wind and less strength to have fun. Want to read my blog about Hydrofoil Wing Surfing?
What does a Windsurf board cost? The prices of windsurf boards can vary a lot. Cheaper models can be found online for prices around $950. That is an entry level windsurf board without discounts. More advanced models can be priced around $2000. Custom made boards might have price tags that exceed these numbers.
What does an inflatable windsurf board cost? Some well know windsurf boards have started to produce inflatable boards. I have come across prices between $1499 – $1949 in online (wind) surf shops.
What does a SUP board cost? Quick online research on (sail / SUP ) board websites showed me prices between $695 – $945. These are hardboard SUP boards. Inflatable versions where offered for similar amounts.
What does an inflatable SUP board cost? Quick online research, on (sail / SUP ) board websites, showed me prices between $695 – $945. These are hardboard SUP boards. Inflatable versions where offered for similar amounts. The offers I came across included a pump, fin, paddle and travel bag. A quick glance at Amazon.com learned me that they offered inflatable SUP boards priced from $199 up to around $720. Of course offers might have changed since I wrote this.
What does a SUP / windsurf board weight? Quick online research, on (sail / SUP ) board websites, showed me weights around 15.5 kg/ 34.1 lbs. This is a non inflatable board: the 2019 Exocet Link 10’ WindSUP with a 175 liter volume. For comparison, a Starboard WindSup crossover with a volume of 238 liters, weights 31.13 lbs / 14,13kg according to the website I found it on.
What does an inflatable windsurf board weight? A rough estimate of the weight of an inflatable windsurf board is between 10.5kg and 12.5 kg. Inflatable windsurf boards can vary in weight depending on their size and the materials used for construction. Examples like the RRD Airwindsurf Freeride V2 weight 10.5 kgs/ 23 lbs. They have a 260cm / 8’6’’ and a 150 liters volume. For comparison the Starboard Airplane 290 weights 12.46kg according to the Starboard website. It has a 290L volume.
What does an inflatable SUP / windsurf board weight? Inflatable SUP / windsurf boards have weights depending on their size and the materials used for construction. Starboard produces 3 models between 322 and 351 liter. Weights shown on their website vary between 11.3kg / 24.9lbs and 11.9kg/26.2lbs
How long is a windsurf board? Windsurf boards have shapes depending on what they are used for. Entry level boards have a lot of volume to provide enough buoyancy and stability. Sizes are around 11’0”x30”x4 7/8” / 335x76x12 cm. This board has a 220 liter volume. Short boards, like extreme wave boards can have lengths that are far shorter. 224 cm at a 74 liter volume is an example of that.
How long is a SUP board? SUP boards that I came across in online shops, like the inflatable BIC 10’6’’ Wind Air and the BIC 11’6’’ have lengths of 10’6’’ / 320cm and 11’6’/ 350,5cm. Other brands I found had similar lengths. I terms of thickness and width one can think of 6’’/15,2cm and 31’’/78,7cm . That gives volumes around 225 liters.
Disclaimer: This publication does not constitute an offer and no rights may be derived from its contents. Of course offers on websites might have changed since I wrote this.