Words & photos: Sancha Myall – Saltbirds SUP
To look at is a beauty! A lovely shade of purple (Night Fade) with motivational, adventurous quotes like ‘Wonder is around’ printed on it. The nose cargo straps are of excellent quality, bright colours and brilliant in that they can be adjusted.
The bag/backpack is made from recycled plastic bottles, which is an important fact to me. We should all try to buy sustainable where we can, and it is excellent that Aqua Marina is considering it within their range. The board bag is a bright shade of purple; it’s a good size to carry and easily fits the board. You can’t fit the paddle and pump in, so you couldn’t carry it all easily to a remote location, but as the board is lightweight at 9kg and comes with an over-the-shoulder carry strap, you would be fine with carrying it.
The two-stage double-action pump was relatively easy to pump up this board. It went from flat to fully pumped and ready in under four minutes.The swift attach centre fin could not have been easier. I’ve not used one like it before, but it was super easy; it just slotted into place with a lever clip at the end.
The paddle is a carbon hybrid pastel paddle that’s reasonably lightweight. I did find the paddle shaft width a little wide for my childlike hands, but I’m sure it’s pretty standard. The handle was very comfortable, with good grip cover.
I went out in West Bay on the Jurassic Coast for a 5km paddle. The conditions were good, with low wind and a little swell, and I was straight-up paddling with no issues. My balance and stability were fine; the board handled it well despite the messy swell in different directions. I could move across the water quickly, but when turning, I found the board so responsive that I almost came off. I don’t think this is a bad thing; I think it’s great – just something I’d need to use to.
14km paddle on the Bridgewater to Taunton Canal. This is where I started to appreciate the board. It was an absolute pleasure to paddle. This board glides and glides nicely! It’s fast because of how well it glides, so keeping momentum is no trouble. It’s responsive, easy to control, and lightweight to portage. The paddle was efficient, and I had no trouble keeping it straight or causing any drag.
I was surprised by the price but having enjoyed it and being happy with the results; it’s worth it. It comes with a two-year warranty, and it’s capable of a lot of miles in many locations, which is what it’s all about to me.
I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed this board. I’d have been over the moon if it was my first board! This board is most suited to small, framed paddlers/beginners. It’s perfect to start learning on, and you won’t be disappointed. This board is suitable for going long distances with a great, less wind-affected shape. You can grow your paddling skills and still be happy with this board for a few years.