Inflatable stand up paddle boards are going big guns in the UK and O’Shea’s 10.2ft is one of the newer models making waves. O’Shea is a home grown company producing a range of inflatable stand up paddle boards that are great for newcomers. The brand’s higher end gear would be applicable once basic SUP skills have been acquired.
When I first clapped eyes on the 10.2ft I immediately thought: ‘similar to other models’ – yet this couldn’t be further from the truth. Once inflated the plan shape of the O’Shea becomes apparent – pulled in nose/tail and wide (32”) deck area suggest a stable and composed ride. A unique shape it’s had a large chunk of R&D worked in – something that brand owner, Farrel O’Shea, is understandably proud of.
Out on the water it has a distinct feel rather than the perceived standard inflatable paddling performance. From a confidence building point of view the 10.2ft is ideal – forgiving unrefined foot placement and allowing the development of correct paddle technique. It’s a great blow up tutor.
As to be expected there’s a degree of slap if you’re ploughing through chop; mainly caused by the spongy deck and rounded nose. If the wind is blowing riders will need to dig deep to not stall. Keeping peddle to the metal the O’Shea does track well, even when conditions aren’t ideal.
The real magic of this board is during manoeuvres. I expected the composed nature to remain as I stepped back onto the tail. To my surprise and satisfaction I was rewarded with a super quick and efficient pivot turn, which almost caught me off balance. I needn’t have worried, however, as the board’s superior stability plays its part and keeps the rider upright and dry. Next time I was ready and enjoyed some super fun SUP freestyle – spins, 360s and general tomfoolery are sure to plant a mile wide smile on rider’s chops.
There’s no better way of testing the surf potential of a stick than trying to catch tiny gutless wind swell – I was keen to get the O’Shea stuck into the ripples lapping over the Hayling sand bank. With a few powerful strokes it was possible to drop in to some midget walls. The board’s manoeuvrability shone through once again – even on lacklustre waves you could actually turn and get the feeling of riding swell. Heading back to the beach was all smiles and stoke – something that all beginners, intermediates and advanced riders are searching for.
O’Shea’s 10.2ft is a surprising beast in many ways. Its fantastic stability belies the fact that it’s a great board to throw about, having stepped back onto the tail. Great for tutoring intermediates in the ways of SUP it also handles small surf well. It’s no wonder this is O’Shea’s bestselling inflatable model; with its ease of use and bag loads of performance to unlock all stand up paddlers will float back to the beach happy as Larry.
Price: £659 including pump, paddle and bag.