BOARDS Magazine had a test drive on Starboard's latest developments, which could soon revolutionize your light wind windsurfing... Adrian Jones and his Clones got their hands on Starboard's best-selling WindSUP Inflatable, the 11'2" x 32" in its dagger board version and fitted it with the latest WindSUP Compact Sail prototype, a light-wind Dacron sail that fits into the trunk of your car and that will be released into production later this year. Here is the full review, published in the BOARDS Mag Spring-Summer 2013 edition:
"I know what you’re thinking. It’s roll-up. It’s inflatable. And like a high-end paddling pool, comes with its very own air-pump and handy bag. One could be forgiven for predicting that this review may read a "guaranteed laughs all-round" product… with no higher expectations. In the super high-tech world of windsurfing, an inflatable board may be seen as a bit of a joke, but it would be a real shame to dismiss this concept so quickly. This Starboard is definitely worth a closer look, even for the simple fact that it addresses what is arguably the most serious short-coming of our sport.
Now let’s think outside the box. Imagine a complete windsurfing board that you could actually carry in a rucksack, store in your cupboard and then transport to the beach on your bike or even on the bus or train. Sounds too good to be true? Well, this is exactly what Starboard claim to offer with this WindSUP Inflatable and WindSUP Compact rig. We decided to get our hands on one to see if it is genuinely the quality "answer" product to the problem or just a whole lot of air and no performance?"
"I have to admit to being rather excited about trying out this unique little package and it appears I’m not alone! Allow me to set the scene. It’s a warm, balmy day at the beach in El Medano, Tenerife. There’s your fair share of windsurfing and kitesurfing junkies whizzing up and down the shoreline and plenty of holidaymakers sunning themselves into various shades of red. The wind is dropping and people are minding their own business. It’s time to roll out the Starboard WindSUP Inflatable and see how easy it is to set-up. What I really wasn’t prepared for, was the crowd that this piece of kit would draw. In my years of testing, I have unwrapped all nature of exotic high-end windsurfing products for testing and I can honestly say that I have never experienced such a fast growing, vast crowd as this. And I’m not talking about just your typical tourist-type spectators with their bemused expressions. I’m talking about faces the windsurfing industry may well recognize – professional windsurfers and the like. All crowded around in anticipation.
Assembly is actually pretty simple and yes, being mostly men, of course we didn’t bother to read the instructions. Luckily for us, the set-up is fairly idiot proof. Roll it out, use the pump to partially inflate, and then insert the fin, mast track and the rather impressive dagger board cassette. Then finish it off by inflating to a pressure of 18 PSI. The last bit of pressure makes all the difference when it comes to the board’s performance, so don’t hold back! Thankfully, there was no shortage of helpers (and idiots) and the board was ready to go within a few minutes.
"So it’s time to let our eager Clone take it to the water. Again, it’s amazing to see just how much interest this board gathers. Not only are our fickle crowd of hecklers, onlookers and test pilots engrossed by what will happen next, I can honestly say that nearly everyone on the whole of El Medano beach is watching. And that prompts an interesting point. People are watching because they are relaxing in the sun, probably a bit bored and to see someone windsurfing is an interesting sight. I’m sure plenty of them would like to have a go. It’s a shame that windsurfing doesn’t really happen on these kind of days any more. Days for windsurfing are generally days that people don’t hang out on the beach and since that happened; the sport has been in a decline."
"Whilst I’m sure wavesailors, freeriders and speedsters won’t be racing to the shop to trade their boards in for something to plod around the bay in light winds on, I do think a board like this could offer a really fun addition to what we all consider to be ‘windsurfing’. Imagine going windsurfing on a sunny, hot day. The kind of day your girlfriend, boyfriend, husband, wife or kids actually want to go to the beach. Take the BBQ, hang out on the beach, do a bit of paddle boarding, a bit of light wind freestyle, sail the girlfriend (or boyfriend) around the bay on the nose of the board, teach some friends to windsurf and relax on the beach. Sounds pretty good doesn’t it? Until now the only kind of boards you could do this on were big "tanks" that take up loads of room in your garage, van/car and are a general nuisance when it comes to transportation. This is where I think this inflatable WindSUP by Starboard hits the nail on the head. Store it in a cupboard, travel with it in the boot of your car ready for the right day and then carry it down the beach like a rucksack. Pretty cool I reckon.
"At the end of the day, the results were clear from the response of all those who tried it. Those who gleefully hopped off down the shore line to have a laugh on this ‘toy’ returned, yes, with big smiles on their faces, but also paired with genuine reviews that communicated quality – of a serious board for beginners and light wind fun. It’s clear that Starboard have done their work well and this inflatable WindSUP is a very long way from the leaky li-lo that it might initially have been compared to. Really, this is a board that every windsurfer should consider owning. It’s a low hassle way of having fun in light winds and getting friends and family involved in your fabulous sport. And at that, you should all run out and buy one! But hang on… There is a catch: the price. The board alone retails for £1269 with the rig price still to be confirmed. This is such a fantastic product that could play a big part in making windsurfing more accessible. At £800 it would be a no-brainer, but at £1200, it’s an altogether more serious consideration..! Although, a consideration that's worth making."