Words & photos: Tez Plavenieks
Until now, I hadn’t stepped aboard a Sandbanks Style inflatable SUP. That’s mad, considering the brand’s based just down the road from me in Poole. Also, Sandbanks Style has gained quite a following in the past few years. Now ticking a Sandbanks Style review off, I was sent the snazzy-looking Sports Touring Classic 12’ package.
Being slightly narrower than Sandbanks Style’s Ultimate iSUP, the Sports Touring Classic definitely feels alive when afloat. It can still be loaded up for getaways and adventures. Although, for me, it’d be more for rapid paddles around my local. Others may chuck it at a few races as it’d perform well for those first-time stints on the event course.
The 12’s glide is cracking, knifing an efficient line with ease. I found that railing works well, whereby you heel the board over slightly onto an edge to reduce drag. This makes the board feel quicker and even more race-like. But equally, it’ll ride just as well when paddled flat.
Manufactured in double-skin laminated fusion, it’s robust and hard-wearing. It’ll take a few knocks and a bit of abuse. Weight is acceptable and not prohibitive. And for me, the aesthetic of the Sports Touring Classic is the best of the Sandbanks Style range. (I appreciate looks don’t affect performance and are a very individual thing).
Special mention should be given to the board’s fin, which has a distinct shape. Aiming to deliver the best straight-line paddling and manoeuvrability, it ticks that box. Combined with the overall liveliness of the 12’ moves, pivot turns are super fun to practice. But without affecting the board’s ‘just paddle’ aptitude.
As the first test board from Sandbanks Style, the 12’ Sports Tourer is a goody. It looks great and delivers a fulfilling SUP experience afloat. It’d be a good choice as a step-up board from a standard 10’6. And the overall package, in terms of what you get, is very appealing – price too, as it happens.