Having checked out FWBPC’s Classic 9.11ft hard shell board last issue we were keen to scope out the brand’s inflatable offering. Coming supplied with an extremely robust wheeled bag that has an extendable ‘trolley’ arm poking out from a pouch in the top, it certainly looks the biz and is again testament to owner Charlie Cripwell’s attention to detail.
Two moulded side bite fins protrude from the underside with a sliding plastic skeg that slots in nicely and screws up with two bolts. It’s a slightly faffy method but does keep the fin secure. Double skinned Dropstitch makes up the bulk of the board and the quality is robust and durable with a level of finish ensuring it’s an iSUP that certainly holds its own against the competition. Finishing off is an efficient double action pump that quickly inflates.
As with many inflatables the stated PSI is fine for all round paddlers looking to get afloat smoothly. If you want increased rigidity and therefore performance you’d do well shoving a bit more in. At 85kg+ our test team members found more air equated to a better experience overall with increased efficiency on the water.
Tracking is pretty good for a round nose inflatable. It sits in an elevated position and is a board designed to give maximum peripheral vision to pilots. As such it makes a good touring SUP and has a fair stab at covering ground. Glide is efficient and we found it held its own against some of our pointy nose SUPs on test. Obviously it’s never going to be as quick but it was certainly no slouch either.
With its 32” width there’s plenty of board underneath feet to practice maneuvers and SUP fundamentals. If you’ve just begun your paddling journey then it’s an iSUP that would benefit your progression and lead you onto the next step.
We didn’t have the opportunity to use Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co’s air board in waves but we did find a few rolling bumps to play on. In downwind mode it’s a surprisingly adept performer – much more so that you’d appreciate. Sweeping into wind is hard work with a round nose inflatable but coming back the opposite way, breeze on your back, is good fun and could open up this area of paddling to budding bump rippers.
These days there are a huge amount of inflatables on the market and not all are great. It’s easy to end up with a product that’s not only inferior in terms of performance but something that could be dangerous. Fortunately FWBPC’s offering isn’t one of these and instead delivers a reliable and dependable sled that will take pilots from beginner to winner in a short space of time. The heavy duty bag really is a beast and will do wonders at protecting your stick and wheeling your machine towards its next adventure.