Inflatable Windsurfer and SUP
Length – 335 cm/ 11’
Width – 87.5cm/ 34.5”
Price – From £998 including rig & £749 board only
Availability – Now
There’s no doubt windsurfing can be a tricky sport to get into and traditional beginners boards have far from helped the cause. They are big, heavy, difficult to transport, difficult to store and when you progress they quickly become redundant.
But inflatable boards have changed all that in a really good way. They are brilliant. So brilliant, I really don’t see why anyone would buy a ‘hard’ beginners board again. The inflatables are lighter, pack down into a (large) rucksack for storage and can even double up as SUP boards. So when your windsurfing skills finally outgrow them, they still maintain a useful purpose as a SUP board, or indeed a light wind windsurfing board, conveniently stored in a bag in the back of your car. I can’t think of a single windsurfer who wouldn’t have a use for one.
The first inflatable windsurfing boards onto the market were really just SUP boards with a mast base fitting. They were followed up by dedicated windsurfing models, but as with many new technologies, prices were not competitive. The first dedicated inflatable windsurfing board I tried was over £1400 for the board only!
But a couple of years down the line, things are in a much better place and the new O’Shea iWind has pushed the envelope again. This is a board designed equally from a windsurfing and SUP perspective. You can buy it as a board only for £749 or complete with a choice of a 2.0m, 3.0m, 4.5m or 5.5m rig from £998 (depending upon rig size).
I could get all-technical here about the details, but that’s really not what this board is about. It’s designed to be simple. Whether you are an absolute beginner, still scratching your head over the difference between an uphaul, outhaul, inhaul and downhaul or even an accomplished sailor who just wants to play around in light winds and teach your friends and family, no-one needs hassle here.
Learning should be simple and that’s what O’Shea have rightly strived for with the iWind. So with the ethos of keeping it simple, here are 10 very simple things that we think are cool about the iWind –
- It’s big! Stability is key when you are learning. If you feel stable, you feel confident and can progress a lot quicker. Whilst width might seem the obvious answer, if the board is not long enough, it won’t track in a straight line very well. The iWind is both long and wide and provides one of the most stable learning platforms we have come across.
- It windsurfs well. With the center fin in place, the iWind strikes a really nice balance between being directional enough to make forward and upwind progress without squirrelling around, yet is still maneuverable enough for a child with a small rig to be able to turn with ease.
- It SUP’s well. A lot of these combination windsurf/SUP boards end up being a little too wide and short to be good for SUP’ing, but the length of the iWind again makes it nicely directional and good for covering distance with a paddle. The volume and stability are also a bonus and even allow the captain to carry a few passengers!
- It’s a good price! At £998 complete with a rig (2.0m) its hard to complain about the value on offer here. If you don’t need a rig, the board alone will cost you £749. If it costs less than £1000 to give the same pleasure to your friends and family that you get from windsurfing, and have a light wind toy as part of the bargain, that seems pretty good value to us.
- It packs down into a bag with wheels. The iWind board deflates and rolls into a stowage bag complete with wheels, making it even easier to transport around.
- The rig is ready to go. Each size of sail comes with its own unique mast and boom, meaning that there is no messing around with adjustment. Simply pull the sail to the bottom and the outhaul to the end and you are good to go.
- The rig works really well. This style of rig may look low-tech, but don’t be deceived. They are designed to compliment this style of board, being light, easy to rig, powerful in light winds and giving plenty of feel and feedback in the hands. You can also go smaller than you might think with this style of rig, making the first steps easier. 3.0m is perfect for most adults to learn on and our 10 year old test pilots were perfectly matched to the 2.0m
- This board should be durable. O’shea have gained a lot of experience and built a solid reputation within the inflatable SUP market for producing durable boards. They have applied the same technology to the iWind, so we would expect many seasons of trouble free sailing. These inflatable boards are great because they don’t scratch, dent and ding like a traditional hard board. There is of course always the potential to puncture them, but they are extremely tough, so you would have to be pretty careless/ unlucky for that to happen.
- It’s not just a beginners board. Open your mind and you will realize there are so many fun days to be had on this board. Here are a few suggestions; Learn to helicopter tack, duck gybe and fast tack. Learn the basics in light winds and you will be 90% there next time you are on your short board. Go explore. Pack some food, a mobile phone and head off downwind along the coast, exploring areas you might never have ventured otherwise. At the end of the day give a friend a call and get them to pick you up. Your inflatable board will fit in their car no problem! Give your friends a ride on the front of the board. The iWind is plenty big enough for this, giving them a sense of what windsurfing is about without them having to try! Go fishing. Sail (or SUP) out with a fishing line, a picnic and a cool beverage and let the hours pass by! You get the idea, with a bit of imagination, the iWind is a board than can open up many new adventures.
- It’s bright and colourful! Windsurfing is an exciting and vibrant sport and the equipment should reflect that. When things are going well, it’s great to be seen, even if it’s just to stop those pesky kitesurfers stealing all the limelight! And on that rare occasion that things might not be going as well as planned, it’s even more important to be seen! Either way, the bright colour scheme of the iWind keeps it visible all the time, which in our book is a very good thing.