By Sarah Thornely (Supjunkie)
Incredibly compact in a neat rucksack, this board weighs in at 9.3kgs due to its lightweight drop stitch technology. The fast and efficient double action pump with two settings meant I would be on the water once the recommended max air pressure of 15psi was reached.
I’m used to longer and heavier boards, so this was an absolute pleasure to lift easily with the comfortable neoprene centre handle and pop on top of the van. The swift attach fin is just that, no screwdriver to fiddle about with; snap-in, and it feels secure. The three-part fibreglass/carbon paddle could well be sufficient for the beginner paddler, but I’m guessing the intermediate paddler might want to upgrade to something a bit lighter – we all do eventually!
Designed specifically as a shorter touring board but with an advanced cruising shape, it is loaded with adjustable bungy straps front and back, gliding effortlessly across the water, tracks well, and has good manoeuvrability. Once you get used to stepping back and over the rear bungees, you can easily spin this board around. The comfortable EVA deck pad runs to the back of the board and incorporates a tail kick pad.
The rectangular rail edge ‘for cleaner back-end water release’ did seem to work – my other half on the bank was getting me to move up and down the board to check the weight front and back. It created a cleaner and smoother release, reducing tail wake and increasing glide. With a moderate nose rocker, I’m guessing you could also have fun in small waves.
Adventure paddling and touring have become so popular over the last few years. I believe this board would suit a beginner/intermediate – maybe someone who has owned the classic 10’6 beginner board and wants to move on to longer distances and further their adventures. Plenty of straps for dry bags with a payload of 130kgs. Also included are a coiled ankle leash and a carry strap for the board.
I had great fun paddling the Coral Cruiser on my local river and could easily compare it against my other boards, which range from 10’6 to 14’, and it has its place. It’s a nice board; tracking, manoeuvrability and speed are tops for me. I’d love to see a couple of extra carry handles added and, as standard, a quick-release belt added to all board packages. Although the board was packed with mostly cardboard and paper, there were a few plastic bags I’d love to see less of – simple remedies to make the whole package even better.
If you love pink, you will be delighted – the colourways are Raspberry (pink) and Night Fade (purple).
Aqua Marina has a huge range of inflatable boards, from all round, touring, racing, river and surf to fitness and kids’ boards with funky designs. Definitely worth checking out their website.