We weren’t quite sure what to expect with Aqua Inc’s 14ft Air Rider. On the beach (having been inflated) it appears quite narrow in the tail and nose. Based on past experience, this can equate to a lively feeling ride. At 28” wide it certainly requires a pilot with suitable experience already under his/her belt.
Using the supplied pump, the standard inflation exercise was completed. With its double lined construction we rammed a bit more air inside to hopefully increase rigidity. Slotting the super nice fin into a proper box was very satisfying – we do love to see proper foils being utilised for iSUPs, which is fortunately a growing trend. The neoprene carry handle is comfortable to grip, although with fin in the box it does have a tendency to drag while being carried. Adjusting your grip helps alleviate this, however.
With the Aqua Inc being 14ft, it’s no surprise that it glides efficiently away from the beach and carries momentum into the next paddle stroke. There’s quite a bit of nose rocker in the 14ft and as such it copes extremely well with waves and chop – great if riders are planning on competing in surf-orientated race events. In fact, the 14ft coped that well with bumps we ended both surfing it and taking a trip along some of our favourite downwind routes. In both instances it proved a very capable sled.
Although there’s a narrow tail and nose, the sweet spot for paddling is actually quite stable. Manoeuvres can be slightly tricky as riders will need to step towards the tail. But for simply powering along in a straight line it’s not as tippy as initially perceived.
Racers will find the 14ft capable of hitting warp speed, although it’s never going to be quite as efficient as a hard shell board – such is the nature of inflatable boards.
Aqua Inc’s 14ft inflatable is a solid performer across different SUP environments. Its high rocker nose copes well with surf and white water, while its glide, tracking and top speed are pretty good. A top notch, wheeled bag and super high end fin complete the polished look. If you’re a paddler who does a lot of overseas racing then the Aqua Inc Air Rider 14ft could work as your travel companion (if you’re prepared to forgo hard shell SUP performance). Alternatively it’s a good iSUP for skilled paddlers wanting kit for both race and touring. It’s fun on downwind runs and even handles proper waves with suitable aplomb.