This is one for two blogs about construction of paddleboards, in this one you will find everything you need to know about the inflatable construction options, what key words that you need to focus on when choosing an inflatable paddle board and details on Starboards options.
Things to think about when buying an inflatable board:
Rail thickness - The thickness of the rail will affect the performance for your SUP. The whole board sits on top of the water unlike a composite paddle board so if the rail is thick it will be affected by the wind quicker. The rail size may also be a sign of how much dropstitch a board has, if a board has a thicker rail it may have less dropstitch so is thicker to make it as stiff as a board will more dropstitch. A positive to a thicker rail is that the board will have more volume so if you are a heavy rider (115 kg+) you might want to consider this.
Dropstitch - This is the MOST IMPORTANT thing when looking for a inflatable board. The more dropstitch the stiffer the board and less psi it will need, so less time to inflate. If a board has a price that is 'too good to be true' it normally is, you may find you have no stiffness (dropstitch) once on the water, it bow under the weight of the rider and have very poor performance. Always remember you get what you pay for.
Layer Technology - Each brand will have there own name for their layer technology but just keep in mind that the more layers a board has the stiffer it is but be aware it also may make the board heavy. Glue used between the layers is also bad for the environment, Starboard are now using a fusion technology where the layers are fused in a single, glue-less process.
Starboard are all about giving their customers options but to the untrained eye is can seem very overwhelming. Don't panic we are here to help. Starboard have two main constructions for their inflatable boards Zen and Deluxe (Double chamber new for 2018) but also NEW for 2018 the Airline which is designed for the high performance tour and race style boards. For most people the all-round construction of the zen is fine but see details of all your options below.
Hard Standing Area
Rollable Fixed Fins
ZEN, maximise the simplicity.
Starboards lightest board now is stiffer and comes with reinforcement plates in the standing area. The fixed fins make the board toolless and easy to prepare for on water action. The large soft thruster-fin set up is a proven and durable tracking solution
Reinforcement plates in the standing areas and increased Dropstitch thickness in most models increase rigidity. By carefully nesting the reinforcements we offer the lightest board we have ever produced.
FCS Connect Fin
Fusion Technology- Top and bottom layers are fused in a single, glueless process.
Stiffest Technology - The double chamber increases the hull’s stiffness immensely, the UD dropstitch and 3k Carbon fiber compression rail band adds further rigidity.
Cleanest Technology- The deck and bottom lamination process is free of glue and solvent using stricter rules in plasticizer. Packaging of the board is free of plastic
New double chamber for 2018 in all deluxe boards
SAFETY FIRST - The chamber offers up to 42 liters of safety floatation, with 14 liters even in the smallest boards that require only 15 PSI. Starboard pioneered Double Chamber tech in the 2013 Ocean Rescue board. Future Coastguard regulations will possibly request this safety arrangement for inflatable board use in open waters.
ULTRA STIFF- The innovative chamber doubles the sidewalls and acts like rollable I-BEAMS. Starting just behind the standing area and continuing towards the front, the chamber is placed in the most critical area for flex and reduces deflection by 1.8 cm. The feeling of paddling with the stiff Double I-BEAM stringer is getting very similar to a hard board, propelling inflatable technology one step closer to a “hard board” feel.
Starboards first significant breakthrough in tuning rocker lines and deflection The free-flowing aramid cable locks the board in shape when inflated, creating a solid trustworthy hull sensation.
The patented Airline Technology utilises a pre-set free-floating cable. It is attached to the nose, goes under the bottom and ends at the fin box. The preset cable is slightly shorter than the board so when the board inflates, the cable comes under tension and stiffens the board significantly. We measured 1.8 cm less hull deflection in testing and 2016 World Champion Connor Baxter swears by it. Could this efficient, lightweight technology change the future of inflatable performance boards?