Fanatic’s hard shell 2015 Ray touring SUP is fondly remembered by us at SUPM. A super versatile board that performs across a wide spectrum of areas ensures it’s a firm favourite. With that in mind we were looking forward to trying the brand’s inflatable 2016 version – the Ray Air 11.6ft.
Everything about Fanatic’s Ray Air 11.6ft screams quality. Supplied with a top notch, brightly coloured and durable bag Fanatic’s Ray Air looks the business on all fronts. An efficient pump joins the mix and inflating is simple and straight forward. Maximum PSI is stated as 18 which when full topped up seems justified – rigid and hard is what you get. Exactly what you need. Fanatic’s stringer technology helps improve on an already stiff iSUP and upon close inspection there’s not a seam or dab of glue out of place – a super nice looking board.
Having inserted the quality US Box fin its efficient forward thrust ensures sweepers will be powering away from the beach in no time. We did think there’d be similarities in feel between the Ray Air and its hard shell sibling, but this isn’t the case. Obvious when you think about it, the Ray Air slides across water rather than knifing through it. It’s still a quick board, relative to its air board style, with a subtle nose rocker keeping clear of chop and flotsam.
From the Ray Air’s widest point the ride is stable although progressing paddlers may find it a lively feeling sled to start with. There’s decent amounts of secondary stability to trust, however, which will ensure riders won’t get dumped in the drink that often.
With feet on the tail the Ray Air’s playful nature will help tutor riders in the art of pivot turns while the board’s bump catching ability (for an inflatable) is commendable. Gliding effortlessly it could prick interest of those paddlers looking towards downwind runs with salivating envy – a possible route into this side of stand up…
Fanatic’s Ray Air is an efficient blow up cruiser that all types of paddler will fall in love with. For an inflatable it has a lot of efficiency when catching bumps – if this is a requirement – and is one of the best blow ups we’ve tried for this job. If you’re simply searching for an all round touring SUP, to fit a broad range of scenarios, then it certainly won’t let you down. Playful when ridden from the tail while still delivering enough usability for progressing paddlers Fanatic’s Ray Air 11.6ft is packed full of fun for all but the heaviest riders, who may benefit from the 12.6ft model – a longer, wider and bigger volume board that gives increased stability.
Premium 11.6ft, £979
Stringer 11.6ft, £829