The sport of standup paddleboarding has evolved from a novelty (“Is that a surfboard?” people used to ask) into a paddlesports category darling. Here are five of the areas in which we’re seeing the most action as paddleboard manufacturers innovate for the next season.
Paddleboarding is growing. Not just the sport—SUP continues to be the fastest growing sport in America according to the Outdoor Industry Association—but also the boards themselves. Oversized SUPs, able to carry a basketball team or a bachelorette party, are all the rage. New for 2016 is the six-person inflatable YOLO Grande: Almost 19 feet long and five feet wide, it’s designed by YOLO Boards to let families spend time together on the water. There are more than a half-dozen oversized paddleboards now on the market, which join the SUPsquatch, the original monster-sized SUP from C4 Waterman. These big boys are inflatables, so they’re light enough to be carried to the water without the full team.
Increasingly, the paddleboard industry is adopting materials that can take a licking and keep on ticking while still offering performance and weight savings. At last summer’s Outdoor Retailer Summer Market tradeshow, Pau Hana owner, Todd Caranto, offered a poignant demonstration of the strength of Pau Hana’s new Ricochet material by repeatedly slamming a bowling ball into a Big EZ SUP. The Ricochet material only adds a pound to the board, while providing 800 pounds per square inch of impact protection. Pau Hana will be able to use the material with all models without drastically changing the way the company makes boards.
There’s an ever-evolving plethora of apparel, safety equipment and clever storage solutions being marketed towards paddleboarders. One of the more creative accessories we’ve seen is Colorado-based Hala Gear’s new Stomp Box, a fin box that allows the fin on a board to retract inside the board on impact, so that a paddler doesn’t superman off the front if the fin hits a rock. North Carolina-based Prone 2 Paddle is unveiling the P2P Banks Channel, a board with an inset in which you can store your paddle, out of your way for SUP yoga or just for a float.
REEL IT IN
Paddleboard manufacturers are following the wild popularity of kayak fishing with paddleboards that appeal to those who like to cast a line. Amongst the half-dozen board manufacturers that released new fishing models for 2016 is Riviera Paddleboards. Aside from boasting rock-solid stability, Riveria’s 12’6″ Fish On! features nine different anchor points, more than enough to cover all the rods, reels, GPS, fishfinders, coolers and anything else an angler could want.
As the sport grows, many companies are striving to make the board manufacturing process eco-friendlier, differentiating themselves in a saturated market by cutting down on harmful wastes, chemicals and packaging. Invert Action Sport offers their Ecolicious board line without petroleum-based chemicals by using plant-based resins and recyclable plastics. Glide Paddleboards recycles its EPS foam scraps and now avoids epoxy paints. NSP Paddle Boards redesigned its coco mat line for 2016, with more durability for its boards made with coconut mulch.