Range of Mistral
Vol Metric and What it All Means
A confusing and misunderstood issues of board choice, is that of volume, generally specified in litres. This amount, also referred to as ‘vol metric’, was born out of the windsurfing years, when boards for wave sailing in particular, were reduced down in size to that of surf board proportions, to improve wave riding performance.
So small were these boards, those that sank under the feet of some sailors when the wind died or when raising the sail up when dropped, become known as ‘sinkers’. These sinkers, soon became defined not just by their length and width, but also by their vol metric size, so as riders could determine in relation to their body mass, how each would suit them.
Whereas years ago these boards would dip even below 75 litres, when you consider our smallest 8’6 Bali Tribe board for kids is 210 litres, you can appreciate this is a large board in terms of its volume, capable of supporting a 100kg paddler, but far from ideal for an adult paddler regardless of its volume in respect of performance.
Inflatable boards are generally high in volume and you should be more concerned with the boards length x width and how the volume is spread out through the design and take into account the boards stability in relation to your ability.
When investing in a hard board, there are certainly more radically created designs with less volume, but the rules still apply regarding consideration of the length x width and how the volume is spread throughout the length of the board. Our most radical hard board, the Squab 7’2 for SUP surfing, has a volume of only 99 litres, which makes it very much a ‘sinker’ for someone over 100kg. Therefore the advice here is to be less concerned over the vol metric size of the inflatable you invest in, but pay particular attention to more radical hardboard shapes more especially in relation to some of the high performance SUP surf boards.
Not unexpectedly, we have regular requests and enquiries from the USA with regards to our SUP boards. The performance merits, the designs and overall appeal and interest for our boards and of the Mistral brand, remains as strong as ever. Considering the range of product available in the USA, that Mistral still creates interest is reassuring, given that we are not officially there, but read on, as there is indeed now a portal to Mistral board ownership in the USA.
There is no doubt, contemporary SUP sport was born and evolved out of the Hawaiian Islands and quickly spread to mainland USA where it incubated for a number of years until exploding into a huge going concern, fuelled by entrepreneurs investing in this new, easy, equipment sparse, sport for everyone. Ultimately, it was only a matter of time before the major players within board sports ramped-up their investment and interest.
Historically, some of the evolutionary processes of SUP mirror image that of the evolution of Windsurfing, accepting the irony here is that the major brand names quick to jump onto the SUP wagon, were of course Windsurfing brands, searching for a bolt on water sport to add to their inventory. Ironically, rather like Windsurfing, once SUP sport leapt across the pond to Europe, the gloves were off in terms of research and development amongst the big brand names that pushed the sport in all manner of direction and design together with their riders.
Mistral’s Windsurfing history within the Hawaiian Islands is well documented, as it is in throughout mainland USA. In the context of Mistral SUP USA, there was a brief time of establishment in Florida where the main thrust of sales were made, but overall, Mistral SUP has not been omnipresent through mainland USA and as it stands, though it may be the largest market in the world, due to the rush of interest by private individuals in venture capital start up companies and the flood of boards from major brands, the USA is grossly over-stocked with old stock and price wars.
The USA still remains the largest market in the world and it is far from unimportant to us, but we recognise at this stage of the sports growth and development, Mistral’s place within the USA market is perhaps more ‘Specialist’ than mainstream; a stand alone brand which sets the bar high and relies on a number of points of difference to attract the paddler truly seeking something different, even bespoke.
Lee Bergman, living in Cortez, Colorado USA, a paddler now for over 50 years has taken the initiative to invest and make some of our more exotic hard boards available to paddlers of the USA. With his vast experience, Lee has recognised the market need for unique boards to cater for paddlers looking for something different, special and unique and we are pleased to be working with him to achieve this. To this end he has identified our 17’6 Interceptor and Stealth boards as the best boards on the market for the end user searching for such a high performance craft, together with the Vanquish 14’, Vortex SD1 14’ and Equinox 14’. We salute Lee for establishing this Mistral USA Outpost, situated in one of America’s most beautiful locations and invite our fellow paddler of America, to Contact Lee with any enquiries you may have relating to these fantastic boards or any other of our products.
Frequently Asked Questions?
During any investigative process, it’s only normal to want to ask questions in order to bring you to some conclusion and no more so is the process important in relation the buying / investment process. Critically, you may know some basic questions to ask and can easily research, such as the cost, the specs and perhaps how something looks and appears.
However, you really need to dig deeper in order to have the full picture. Knowing simply the price and how something looks and perhaps the basics specifications, is still only a skin-deep overview. What questions to ask, is a skill in itself and if you don’t know the correct questions to ask, you will not have enough facts to genuinely make an informed choice. We’re always pleased when customers first come in to contact with our products, to see the reaction of just how good they are, both in terms of form and function.
When you see a high end product, you know automatically how much attention to detail and thought has gone into its creation and that it would not be accident, but by design. It’s clear to us we’ve let you down in not giving you enough information what it comes to your FAQs and indeed, we recognise it our now as our responsibility to ask some questions for you; some you may not know to ask and in doing so, help to clarify any confusion you may have. So far, we’ve created an FAQ relating to our inflatable SUP technology and another relating to questions you should be asking in relation to the buying process and the joys of living with an iSUP board.
We’ve plenty more FAQs to come, which will cover our hard board range, paddles, windsurfing and we will be offering up advice in relation to techniques of paddling of SUPs and kayaks and of windsurfing. We’re not just about making the equipment, we want to become a knowledge based resource for information about the sports we’re passionate about; above all, it’s about helping you along the way and helping to nurture our relationship with you the end-user and in doing so, appreciate the support and passion with which Mistral operates under it’s motto of Water Life and Living.
Mauritius Indian Ocean
Embraced by mother nature and caressed by turqoise waters, looming mountains, peace and tranquility, Nico Kux and son’s David and Daniel operate from Cap Malheureux and for years the family ran the famous Kuxville Villas. Located in the island’s far north, their venue is directly in front of the famous Gunner’s Coin or Coin de Mire as it’s also known as.
An ideal spot for SUP surfing, windsurfing, SUP and kiting, this area offers a uniquely different experience to that of the south of the island, where everything is little more intense and crowded. The Kux family can advise you on all your travel needs to Mauritius and in some cases, kit you out with whatever equipment you may need on a hire basis. Their location knowledge and fluency in English, German, French and Creole, make them ideal contacts to offer you a great Mistral water sports experience, in great hands. Contact Nico directly for more information and discuss your visit to Mauritius firstname.lastname@example.org
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 . . .
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.