Confused? You should be!
SUP – Should I Take Lessons?
Hard boards have a hard time!
Mauritius Indian Ocean
River Dart Race UK
From South Africa
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.