Review by Rich Heathcote
O’Shea continue their run of high end inflatables and here hand us their 2017 race offering: the 12.6ft x 30” x 310L GTR. A beautiful looking board, featuring O’Shea’s distinctive livery and construction, it’s eye catching SUP candy and ready for action once out of the bag and blown up.
The bag itself is stylishly designed to be minimalist, light and easy to carry. Comfortable rucksack straps and a side handle add to its ease of use. If you’re hiking any distance to your put in then you’ll be thankful how comfortable it is to transport. We’d be quite happy sticking this on our back and heading to the beach via bike – not something you can say about many 12.6ft boards! The pump and fin all fit snugly inside with still loads of room – how O’Shea managed to incorporate so much space inside such a small bag is anyone’s guess.
Once out on the beach the board is distinctive in its classic stylish O’Shea yellow and black design with a cool white logo that makes it uniquely identifiable. As with every other O’Shea iSUP we’ve tested there’s not a seam or stitch out of place – O’Shea iSUPs really do look great. Getting it to 15PSI took no time at all and inserting the fin (or any US box fin for that matter) was swift. There’s no need for a screwdriver as the twist head tightens easily by finger and thumb and is one of the best systems we’ve come across on iSUPs.
Getting to the water is easy with a comfortable carry handle and ergonomic to grip. The board paddles beautifully, its water piercing outline shape and wide square tail helping the board glide through water with ease and without loss of stability. It’s pronounced, shaped pointed nose cuts through any chop smoothly and helps the 12.6ft accelerate to a race pace speed. We tested this against two other 12.6ft hard shell race SUPs and it kept up quite comfortably. If you’re looking at inflatable boards for racing then this could be it.
That said there’s enough versatility for touring style paddling. The O’Shea incorporates elastic bungee straps up front for lashing kit to its deck. Due to the 12.6ft’s narrow nose it won’t carry a huge amount of gear but there should be enough capacity for day trip essentials.
Paddling against strong tides demonstrated how efficient the GTR was. It will give great confidence when heading off on distance paddles. SUPers can be safe in the knowledge of getting home in the event of adverse conditions moving in.
O’Shea’s 12.6ft GTR is an impressive inflatable that’s extremely well constructed and holds its own in race environments while remaining applicable for all water sweeping. It’s a real pleasure to paddle and looks great to boot. If you were to take a board away on holiday and indulge in some distance training, or simply head off to check out new areas, then O’Shea’s 12.6ft GTR would definitely be at the top of our list.