words & photos :: Ned Morgan.
Of all the ways to experience our natural environment, paddling takes us closest to our primordial origins in water. Paddling is adventure—we’re at once “out of our element,” and in the midst of it. And a stand-up paddleboard is the most unobtrusive interface between human and water.
I grew up canoeing and then in my thirties took up kayaking as well. When my friends began to adopt stand-up paddleboards, at first I refused to even step onto one. I had no surfing experience, which I mistakenly believed necessary to balance on a SUP. In a kayak or canoe, I felt secure, in control. And I thought standing up on a board for extended periods would feel awkward.
I was wrong.
After an hour or so of solitary practice on a borrowed board, I felt stable enough to begin short sessions. A friend taught me the basics of using the SUP paddle as a brace. It wasn’t long before I was making longer trips on a paddleboard, during which I realized that after a short adjustment period, it is more comfortable to stand on a board than it is to sit in a kayak or a canoe. (Fact: research continues to show that prolonged sitting is bad for you.) With a bit of practice, powering a paddleboard becomes an intuitive series of movements as natural as walking.
In my view, high-quality inflatables like Bluefin offer performance similar to a hardshell board. The triple-action, double-chamber pump included in the Bluefin Sprint Carbon 14′ kit makes for fast inflation. An electric pump is also available.
A big advantage of iSUPs is their portability. If you can carry a board comfortably on your back, you will take it farther. If you can stow a board in a backseat, you will take it out more.
For example, with an iSUP I can quickly access a chain of small lakes not far from my home. The first lake is accessible via a canoe portage that crosses a county road. I pull over here and carry in my Bluefin Sprint Carbon 14, which is lighter than a hardshell board. (Sometimes the Bluefin is inflated and strapped to my roof rack. Other times it is deflated and stowed in its backpack. Either way, it’s easy to carry for the 10-minute walk to the lake. For longer hikes, I keep it rolled up in its backpack.) From here I can explore a series of secluded pristine lakes. It’s easy to lift the Bluefin over the shallow creeks that connect the lakes.
Another advantage is durability. I haven’t had an iSUP long enough to attest to ultimate longevity (although Bluefin offers a reassuring warranty) but I have witnessed several hull-shots to fiberglass boards that required many painstaking hours of epoxy and sanding in a shop. It’s not easy to puncture a quality iSUP but if you do, the included patch kit will do the trick (though you will have to wait a day for the glue to dry).
BLUEFIN SPRINT CARBON 14 ‘ INFLATABLE SUP
The Sprint Carbon is an evolution in touring iSUP performance, with carbon stiffening rails and Air Duo dual inflation chamber technology combining to make the stiffest touring SUP this side of a hardshell. This board is fast and knifes through the water like a hot arrow.
The added sturdiness and speed makes this board more appealing for general paddlers looking to segue into touring, offering all the balance and confidence that you need to tackle distances and big water. Plus: The nose and tail cargo areas are huge and you can secure all the drybags you need for a weekend trip.
The pointed 14′ profile cuts smoothly through the waterline, with a narrow profile to keep you tracking straight, covering more distance than ever before with each stroke.
FRS: Flex Reduction System: Robust carbon fibre rovings woven into a diagonal twill pattern produce Bluefin’s 3K carbon fibre rail layer. Unique properties of 210gsm carbon textile allow stiffness and flexibility in one lightweight material. Carbon mid-rail is heat-welded between internal and external rail tape to produce unrivalled tension and rigidity.
Air Duo Inflation: This is a huge advancement in iSUP construction. With a stand-alone central inflation loop inside the main air chamber, the Sprint Carbon is more indestructible, rigid and high-volume than ever. The board can even float on the inflation loop alone, making it a stand-out safety feature as well as stiffness enhancer.
US Box Fin + Carbon Fibre Paddle: The included 2-piece carbon paddle with ergonomic shaft weighs almost 70 per cent less than standard SUP paddles. Match your fin to the conditions with US Box design (inserted after inflation and attached with a simple, tool-free nut-and-bolt system). This large fin sits in front of two smaller Smart Lock fins which are hand-locking—no metal parts or tools to lose, they clip in securely in seconds. This three-fin system really improves tracking, particularly in windy conditions.
Croco-Diamond Deckpad + Kick Pad: The tough, non-slip “croco-diamond” deck pad offers unmatched traction and durability. The kickpad feature at the end of the board allows you to make sharp and carving turns quickly. The board is also loaded with two secure cargo nets to store your valuables and extra gear, with multiple D rings for added customization and functionality.
Exo Surface Laminate Technology: Only Bluefin uses ESL for ultra-tough UV-proofed decks. Throw your worst at them, they last a lifetime. They use the densest drop stitch pattern on the market: 11200 stitches of 500 denier space yarn per square metre make for one rigid board.
Check out more details about the Sprint Carbon 14 and the full Bluefin lineup here. Canadian retail site coming soon.