Range of Mistral hardboards
International Mistral One Design
One-Design craft permit at least one variable to be consistent in the context of racing and over the course of racing history, no other factor has been more successful in assisting the growth and popularity of racing between all-comers. Suffice to say this is true in the context of sailing and many paddle sports and even of race cars.
Indeed it could be argued in some cases, One-Design racing has been the saviour of some sports and indeed the catalyst for growth and in the context of SUP, with the exception of the Naish One-Design, this is where the concept has started and finished. What you might not know, is that Mistral has a very strong heritage associated with One-Design racing through Windsurfing in respect of the Mistral Competition boards introduced in the early 1980s with over 260,000 units sold and following this, the Mistral International One Design or IMOD board which went on to the board of choice over
three consecutive Olympics from 1996 through to 2004.
What you’re certainly unaware of, will be of our SUP IMOD inflatable 12’6 race, which we’ve developed and nurtured in conjunction with our Japanese importers, who in turn have worked closely with Japanese Universities for the past two years, running and organising an Inter-Universities SUP Challenge Competitions. With up to and over 60+ competitors, Japanese students have fully embraced the IMOD concept and indeed just this past September 2018, 4 students travelled to Holland to compete in the SUP 11 Cities event, sponsored and supported by Mistral.
Along with One-Design racing, comes rules and race course standardisations and administration in the form of record keeping, administering of entry fee money and of course logistics. Importantly, this level of racing is designed to be sociable and attainable by all-comers, with less focus on the winning, but more on the taking part. IMOD racing is successful to the degree to which it can be administered and our advice to you is simple. If you would like to see this form of One-Design racing develop in your area of the world, feel free to contact us to discuss how we can assist you. Meanwhile we will keep you updated.
Why Inflatable Techno-Design Matters
While it’s easy to get carried away with all the virtues of inflatable sup board ownership, it’s as well to stop and consider their vulnerability in a harsh environment and how this can make you too, vulnerable to any catastrophic failure of the board you stand on.
If you’re reading this and thinking of buying an inflatable SUP, the best advice we can give, not only will you generally get what you pay for, but the cheaper you buy, the more vulnerable you are likely to be as a result of the use of inferior materials and poor build quality.
Every brand that has been involved since the beginning of the iSUP industry, has stories of boards failing back when the technology was new and evolving. More often than not, seam failure represented the biggest problem area, as a result of the method by which the seams were bonded to the PVC. They were subject to degradation due to issues of humidity and being stored away when damp in particular.
Since these early days, the technology has moved on, but it’s true to say, the cheap corner store inflatables lack the integrity of Mistral boards, which are not only better performing, but most importantly, inherently safer. Mistral takes this issue very seriously and therefore we offer no compromise on safety through quality, nor quality on price.
If you’re worried about spending more than you can afford, usually it has more to do what you ‘choose’ to afford, rather than what you actually can. But ask yourself, do you want the reassurance of having quality under your feet when out on the water, or the insecurity of cheapness and if that’s not enough, consider the resale value of a quality Mistral product, over that of a no-name inferior product.
Further to this, if you’re into genuine adventuring into the wilderness, likely to want to load up with cargo and generally rough it up for days at a time, then we’ve gone a step closer in creating our unique dual chamber Trekker Boards. Not only will they handle up to an additional 60kgs + of cargo over and above the weight of an average paddler, but offer the added advantage of a secondary chamber. This secondary chamber is centrally located, so as if the primary chamber is compromised, you will be still be left standing and can make your way to shore. It’s this combination of Techno-Design which can make all the difference to the end-users safety, enjoyment and experience. The safer you feel, the more likely you will be to reach for ever high goals, making Mistral a great partner to have at your side.
New Inflatable Material for 2019
First developed by Good Year Tires in the USA, with the backing of the US Military, the idea for inflatable drop stitch material was to consider the creation of inflatable bridges and even an inflatable plane. That was back in the 1950s and the technology has advanced in leaps and bounds since this time, whereby such material is used in all manner of ways, though inflatable stand up paddle boards, have served to accelerate and challenge the makers of this fabric.
Historically, Mistral were the first SUP company to use super lightweight, woven PVC drop stitch fabric, manufactured in Germany – and this was long before the mystical introduction of MSL (Monocoque Structural Laminate) developed by a factory in China and not indeed by a brand who would like to lay claim to it.
Mistral’s adoption of Germany’s revolutionary internal construction technology, consisted of multi PVC layers with a three-dimensional woven structure; in simple terms, the top and bottom layers were connected by multiple threads that are cross-woven rather than straight, creating 50% more durable warp and weft tensile strength than existing drop stitch technology. This resulted in a much lighter, stiffer and durable board. These we used on our Equipe range. These super light boards were made in Europe, using the German material, with components imported from Asia. Regrettably and despite winning awards for construction in the USA, the process was costly, making the boards a premium product which ticked all the boxes of being the lightest and stiffest on the market, ideal for travel.
In 2016, with all the fuss made of MSL, which certainly had advantages over conventional HDDS (High Density Drop Stitch) which relied upon separate multi-layers of PVC, Mistral responded and adopted essentially the same material, accepting we needed a new name and so FLT (Fusion Layer Technology) was born. Ironically, this name is now used in Asia to define this material as the universal name for this drop stitch material, which remains in essence the same as MSL.
FLT in its basic, original form, is fabricated using knitted technology, whereas our original material out of Germany, was fabricated using woven technology, making it way ahead of its time. The upside of a woven fabric, is that its tensile strength is substantially more than that of knitted material of the same thickness. This means it’s possible to manufacture a lighter board of equal dimensions and achieve a significant weight saving together with a more rigid board. For 2019 Mistral, are pleased to announce we’re introducing once again our award winning woven fabric technology combined with the advantages of FLT (Fusion Layer Technology) which will once again, make us leaders in the use of this technology.
To give but one example of the weight saving, if we take one of largest and most advanced dual chamber boards, the Trekkers, which uses conventional HDDS material (old tech multiple layer PVC sheets) our 12’6 weighed in at 16.9kg; for 2019 expect 11.3kg and for the 14’ at 18.1kg, expect a weight reduction to 12.6kg and across the existing range of our boards using FLT, expect an average weight reduction in the region of 20%, with an increase in board rigidity. Best of all it will not affect your back pocket, as the costings remain super competitive, if not even cheaper for some models.
We’re working hard to make a difference, to rise above cheap knock-offs and offer you a quality product with excellent performance, durability and resale value.
River Dart Race UK
Head of the Dart Race England – (8 mile river race, Britain’s largest SUP race) Congratulations to Ginnie Odetayo for her 2nd place finish in the female 14′ division (Vortex) just behind the winner in a field of some 120 competitors and to James Van Drunen who also finished second racing his new 14’SD1 Vortex in a field of over 200 competitors, just a few seconds behind first place over the 8 mile course. James led for most of the race, but his tactics worked against him in the closing kilometre in a royal battle between he and former team mate Ryan James. The friendly rivalry will continue on the 28th when they and other competitors will meet for London’s Battle of the Thames, where James will be present to defend his title. On a footnote, James was also awarded a Junior Award for the 1st youngest competitor. Great job!
From South Africa
Meanwhile in South Africa – the Vanquish 14′ arrives on its shores along with other new models unique to the SA market. South Africa is a uniquely placed bastion of the world in relation to its waters and winds. While it has its protected areas, it’s a wild and crazy geographical part of the planet in relative isolation, fringed by wild oceans, winds, sea life, currents and winds and a breeding ground of some of the most accomplished waterman and women on the planet . . .
Teihotaata 3rd Air France
Up against the best names in the world Steeve Teihotaata pulled out an incredible 3rd place at the Air France Paddle Festival, the opening leg of the Paddle League Championship. It was a truly titanic battle with many big names struggling up against many new emerging paddlers and a race truly worthy of full international world class status. Sitting with the pack leaders in 6th and 7th for much of the first 35 minutes, turning out through the reef for the run home, it seemed that Steevie was off the pace. Picking a good line and selecting good bumps on his Equinox 14′ x 24″, he made great ground and was in 4th place fighting it out with Titouan Puyo in the home stretch to overtake using the great qualities of the board and his skills to make the podium in 3rd place. Congratulations to 1st and 2nd place getters. To Steevie – we salute and recognise a magnificent, heroic effort!
OK, so you want to buy an inflatable stand up paddle board and you’re now completely confused having begun your search and been overloaded with choice. You could go for the cheapest on the market and by this measure, you will be investing in it’s only USP (industry speak for Unique Selling Point) – the price.
If you travel this pathway, know that you will get exactly what you pay for; poor materials, poor warranty (if any), lack of rigidity and therefore performance, poor valve systems, ineffectual undersized bags, inferior hand pump and little or no resale value. All in all, they serve a niche market for the relatively disinterested end-user not particular interested in investing in quality but more of a disposable consumable, where brand quality means little. Importantly, don’t be fooled also into thinking your SUP inflatable should look surf-board like in shape, unless you aim to sup-surf only, in which case the laminated board is the best option, always. On the other hand, we’ve since discovered our Tribe boards are also fun in shallow plunging waves as we found out in Tahiti in the right hands.
Our entry level Tribe boards, Lombok, Sumatra and Java, so named to reflect the idea of a family tribe using them, were from the outset, designed to break the mould on typical elliptical shaped boards in the market. What we wanted to do was design a shape that made sense from a paddling and handling perspective.Rave reviews in the German Press, confirmed what we knew to be correct that this shape of board offered a fast, streamlined feel with improved handling upwind and in head chop, super high levels of stability with the wide tail providing excellent step back tail spinning fun. Additionally the boards hold a good line when paddled and the slide in fin makes setting up super easy.
Add to this convenient bow grab handle and cargo net, carry handle, rear and bow D-rings for mooring, D-ring for ease of leash attachment, a mix of smooth skin and diamond shaped crocodile EVA and top line striking graphics, you have a board that’s been well thought out with the end-user in mind. To seal the deal on these epic entry boards, our super neat and sturdy roller travel bag, big enough to carry your clothes for a weekend getaway all in the one back, along with our dual action hand pump. The bag, should not be overlooked in the buy-in process – it matters and we’ve put a lot of thought into them, up to and including the water-proof internal lining.
Last year we added the Bali board to the Tribe range – ideal for young children, it features all the great attributes of the other boards and presents in striking fun colours. So if you’re in the market to enter the sport or indeed kit out your school or resort, consider your purchase as an investment, not just a disposal item and reap the rewards of a Mistral designed and created product.
Mistral Inflatables – Better By Design and What to Consider
Our range of Squab and Cloud boards
SUP surfing is a niche interest area of our sport and only just recently it seems, SUP surfers are ‘discovering’ our range of Squab and Cloud boards and even our Levuka. Take this recent review where our Squab 7’10 was matched against JP and Starboard boards of similar spec where our Squab came out on top as the pick of the bunch. Aimed at the entry to upper level intermediate rider, our SUP surf boards are classic shapes, with a custom feel that should tick the boxes for most everyone. Seriously cool graphics, quality hand layups and all machine and hand shaped they include Futures fin boxes. There’s everything to like about these boards which defy their production status. Created by Chris Diplock and Steve West, the boards are ‘classic’ designs which will remain in the Mistral line up for some years to come.
Teamrider Surf Sport Castricum.
Stand up paddle addict and shop Owner of Surf Shop Castricum, Robert, travelled with his team buddy Jeroen to Plage Goulien-Crozon in French Britanny to test the new Mistral Squab against a couple of comparable sized boards. We are both big fellas (93+94kg) so opted for 115-129l compact boards. At Plage Goulien, we scored a variety of conditions from shoulder-high light offshore waves, to 3m peeling with a decent side shore breeze. Goulien isn’t a barreling wave, but it’s got plenty of speed and we scored long rides.
- Volume – 129L
- Length – 7’10”
- Width – 30.3”
- Thickness – 4.3”
The new Squab doesn’t look and feel at all like a production board. The rather square and wide tailed Squab has a custom board feel and build, in light weight glass-vector and epoxy resin paint construction, reinforced with a carbon tape stringer on bottom and deck. No paint or filler, makes this stylish baby, pure eye candy and looking very custom like!
On the deck the Squab has just a kick pad, so you can add a big pad on it yourself, or wax it for the ultimate surf feeling, or if you like, lightweight without the mess, add RSPro Hexatraction, which is what we opted for.
If you flip the board, you see 5 nice Futures boxes and a high quality quad set. The board has an intermediate rocker with a light mono-concave running in a channel with some serious tail kick.
On the water
We really didn’t know what to expect with the Squab. A wide and rather square board, but also lots of rocker, but the proof is in the pudding! The Squab paddles out very easy. The wide tail adds a lot of stability and the 7.9kg makes the board move easily through the water. Although there is no pad the board feels very composed, probably due the construction.
On a wave the big surprise started. The Squab takes off very quick, quicker than most boards we tried and when moving down the line you have a nice controlled feel, especially with the back foot on the tail pad the Squab turns on a dime.
Robert who is a true goofy footed back foot quad lover, was ripping like I have never seen him doing before. Nice bottom turns, showing some fins in-between and sliding top-turns with some serious spray in 2-3m waves.
After seeing Robert ripping, I wanted to try it as well. Like Robert, great acceleration and back-footed, Wow! Not the fastest board we tried when chasing down the line, but the loosest and most playful board we tried in normal conditions, especially when the wave wasnt that spectacular, the Squab has ample of drive and shows it’s true strength. A perfect board that makes you feel like ‘Kelly’ in the not so perfect conditions.
When pulling into some steeper, faster sections that needed to surf more over the front foot, it started to slip and slide a bit in the top turn. A tri-fin set-up might help there as well, by keeping everything under control; but for such waves, there are different boards.
We are were both very impressed by the Squab, specially for the smaller, softer waves and back footed riders the Squab opens up a whole new ‘turny’ dimension.
- Custom board appeal and graphics
- 5 fin Futures boxes
- Takes off very quick (quicker than most boards)
- Nice controlled feeling
- Turns very quickly (on a dime)
- Nice bottom turns
- Very playful board even when waves aren’t great
- Plenty of drive
- Experiment with fin set up.
Author: Jeroen van Gessel, Teamrider Surf Sport Castricum.
Mistral Creative Juices
No matter how long you’ve spent on the water, on a wide and varied number of water craft, in as many water and weather conditions, when it comes to the design process, working in a small team with like minded individuals, helps to validate your intuitive ideas and take them forward with greater confidence. Our Mistral Design and Creative Team, Chris ‘Bro’ Diplock and Steve West, have between them, over 60 years of design knowledge, ranging from surfboard, windsurfing, prone paddleboards, outrigger canoes, paddle and sail design and more recently Mistral hardboards coinciding with the sports arrival onto the scene.
Good design is a complicated process, which requires an initial brief or idea as to what the board will be intended for, so as it can perform successfully within those parameters. From conception, to making the 3D files, to computer cutting the foam blank, hand shaping the final details and laminating, it’s an anxious time as you work towards that first sample test board and the on water sessions which follow. Feedback from team riders, provides the primary bases for adjustment or not, with some testing often carried out by West in order to ‘feel’ if the overall end-goal in performance is being met and that riders can indeed get out of the board what they put in. While designs can indeed be fine tuned over time, the catalyst for this, can also sometimes be due to improved abilities of the riders, as a sport matures, but equally at Mistral, we strive to create, ‘Classic’ boards, as an acknowledgement end-users prefer constants, rather than continual change.
‘Bro’ hails from Cornwall, Britain’s bastion of surfing and is something of a UK legend in his field, whilst West, has lived a varied waterman’s life in Africa, Mauritius, Australia, the UK and all parts of the Pacific and its islands. Competitive successes, combined with work within paddle sports in particular, is documented through his books and used as reference sources at the Universities of Hawaii and the University of the South Pacific. Together, they have created such record making boards such as the Slipstream, Vortex , Equinox 14‘ boards and more recently the new Vanquish 14‘, not to overlook the popular Levuka, Fiji and Levu boards and all of our other Mistral hardboards.