The 12’6″ Touring is one of our most popular Starboard shapes, and one of the most popular boards in the Starboard inflatable SUP range, probably second behind the inflatable Whopper boards. The Starboard Inflatable 12’6″ Touring Deluxe boards have cruised lakes, rivers, bays and oceans all around the world for the past several years as the ultimate touring, exploring and adventure boards. The narrow nose pierces through the water efficiently and the rocker is flattened to maximize glide, speed and stability.
This article is a review of the 2018 12’6″ Touring Deluxe DC and not necessarily an instructional or how to article. For that we suggest you view the Starboard Inflatable SUP Manual (1MB) or this article. Much of this article can be related to the 14′ x 31″ Touring also.
Starboard Inflatable SUPs in 2018
Well the biggest change in the Starboard Inflatable range for 2018 is the inclusion of the Double Chamber technology on most of the Deluxe construction boards.
The secondary chamber offers up to 42 liters of safety floatation, with 14 liters even in the smallest boards, that require only 15PSI. Starboard pioneered Double Chamber technology in the 2013 Ocean Rescue inflatable paddle board. It is now revised, improved and gives the paddlers peace of mind while paddling.
The innovative secondary chamber doubles the sidewalls and acts like a rollable I-beam. Starting just behind the standing area and continuing forward, the chamber is placed in the most critical area for flex and reduces deflection by 20-40%. The feeling of paddling with the stiff double I-beam stringer is very similar to a hard board, providing an authentic paddling experience.
Fusion Technology: Top and bottom layers are fused in a single, glueless process. Lighter, stronger.
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.
Visually very similar the the 2017 Magic Suit Case, the Re-Cover Deluxe bag is now much lighter, with improved zipper access and lighter duty but better rolling wheels. While the bag is overall noticeably lighter, they have not skimped on any of the important details. You still have the roller wheels, the comfortable and stowable back pack straps, internal pocket, compression straps and name tag window.
The 2018 Re-Cover Deluxe bag features:
- Twin roller wheels for easy transport
- Padded cover
- Ergonomically shaped hiking straps and back support, which can be packed away in the strap free system
- Inside and outside compressions straps
- Reinforced diamond PVC for increased durability around the base
- Name tag window
- Strong, non corrosive zipper
- The lightweight, durable and innovative choice for serious travellers
The V8 Double Action Pump is top quality and makes inflating any board a breeze. Start pumping in the double action mode, as controlled by the little red lever, and you’ll inflate on both up and down strokes. As the pressure mounts, pulling up requires more effort than is comfortable so you switch to single action mode. Flip the red lever over and continue pumping to 12-15 PSI for the inner chamber and 15-18 PSI for the main chamber.
Faster board inflation, with less effort: The benchmark V8 flow valve gets you to 15–18 PSI faster and with less effort.
Starboard V8 Double Action Pump features:
- Inflate your board with faster and easier continuous pumping cycle both in down and up actions
- With a switch, the double action pump can convert to single action for easy inflation up to 18PSI
- Allows effortless inflation due to the increased diameter of the intake and exhaust valves
- The ergonomically designed foot pad creates a stable, comfortable platform for sustained effort in getting your board up to 18PSI, in the shortest amount of time
Inflating the 2018 Starboard 12’6″ Touring Deluxe Double Chamber does involve a couple of extra steps. Having two chambers to inflate slows the process a little but the added benefits of the double chamber far outweigh the small inconveniences of dealing with two chambers and valves. Pumping up the board took me about 4 minutes and 20 seconds. Add another few seconds to attach FCS 9″ touring fin, make sure you leash is secure, and you’re good to go! View the how to inflate your Double Chamber Starboard SUP here.
Dimensions: Same as previous years, the 2018 Touring is 12’6″ long, 31″ wide and 6″ thick. The most notable change, as we’ve mentioned, is the Double Chamber system. Below you can see the inner chamber with the darker blue and darker grey outlines. You can also see the second valve just near the board’s center handle. The board again features front and rear cargo areas with included bungees, FCS accessories mount near the center handle, the same rear handle that doubles as a paddle holder and the same nose mounted and rear mounted d-rings.
Removed from the 2018 model are the 3K carbon rails that improved stiffness. This function is now taken over more effectively by the I-beam stiffness provided by the Double Chamber system. The Double chamber system does come with a bit of a weight penalty however. The added material, and valve, adds about 4lbs over the 2017 model. This may sound like a large weight gain but when you factor in fusion construction, the board is still lighter than many others on the market, and it is stiffer, safer, and in fusion construction it is more durable and reliably air tight.
The 2018 Starboard Touring Deluxe features the FCS 9″ SUP Touring fin again. FCS II Connect is a super easy system that allows insertion and removal of the fin in mere seconds. Slide the fin in, snap back and you’re good to go! This deep and swept back shape provides very good tracking and doesn’t easily got snagged on lines or weed. I could easily paddle this board straight in choppy or light winds.
Also carried over from 2017 is the exclusive and innovative lightweight Starboard SUP leash will be your best paddling partner in flat water and touring conditions. Leash is NOT suited to waves or white water. Compact in design and at only 70g, it is strong, comfortable and effortless to wear.
The innovative Rail Edge helps the water release off the board’s tail for optimal glide and speed. The Rail Edge is still easily folded and rolled when deflating. This feature carries over again from 2017, but I have experience with the 2017 12′ x 33″ Altas Deluxe that does not feature the Rail Edge and I believe I can feel or notice a small difference. Obviously the boards are not identical but I could see a cleaner release from the tail of the Touring compared to the Atlas and this was even more apparent if I stood further back. A cleaner release is going promote better speed. Now, rail shape is the one limiting factor that holds inflatables back from hard board performance whereby the rail shape is primarily governed by the thickness of the board, and they all therefore tend to be very rounded rails. The Rail Edge gives the water a better release off the tail of the board and stops the water sticking to the tail and curling up due to surface tension and slowing the board. Some of the WindSUPs use a large Rail Edge to promote planing and some surf SUPs offer this for better rail to rail surfing. Here on the Touring, it provides a clean release for better glide and speed.
The package includes a repair kit with glue and patches, and a general guide book with inflation instructions, pump tips and care tips inside the mesh pocket. Finally, a cinch strap to keep the board rolled up.
This board comes with Starboard’s Re-Cover Deluxe SUP board Bag, FCS fin, V8 Double Action High Pressure Pump, lightweight Starboard leash and a small repair kit.
On the water
The board is, as the name suggests, an excellent touring board. What exactly constitutes an excellent touring board? Fairly flat rocker in the nose, with pointy nose and tail, which all promote good glide and speed, but still a stable board at 31″ wide through the center and with cargo areas. This is my first Double Chamber board so I was especially curious as to how it would perform and I tend to paddle in choppy ocean conditions so it was going to be a good and immediate test of how effective it was in improving board stiffness. In general, a flat nose in chop gets pushed around, making an inflatable board flex when under heavy paddle effort or paddling into the chop. All rounder ocean boards (like the Starboard Blend or Red Paddle Co Sport) usually have a little more nose rocker (nose kick) to accomodate for rougher conditions but with the I-beam stiffness provided by the double chamber in this Touring board, I noticed less than the usual flex.
I did a side by side with a 2017 and 2018 12’6″ Touring Deluxe and measured the deflection (sag) of each board to see what the new Double Chamber offered in a static situation. Both boards were pumped to 18PSI and placed on two beach loungers that were 6’6″ (2m) apart. We measured each board in place and then I stood in the middle (195lbs). The sag was measured for each board and the 2018 12’6″ Touring exhibited 40% less sag than the 2017 model, just 1″ compared to 1.8″. So the board is noticeably and measurably stiffer than previous models.
The deck pad is very comfortable. Square groove main area (blue) with a diamond cut tail area (red) provides lots of grip with rail to rail coverage. Tail mounted handle is a great feature for dragging the board in and out through small breakers. It also provided a great way for my son to hang on and drag behind as I paddled along. The underside nose mounted d-ring offers a great place to anchor the board, tie it off to a dock or do gentle towing from.
The shape in general has excellent glide and carries good speed. One thing I’m not a huge fan of when I paddle on this board, is how the width tapers to a narrow tail. This is great for glide and speed but not so great for overall stability. In flat conditions it was fine, but with the chop I usually paddle in, I stand a fraction further back to keep the nose up. This meant I moved back from the widest point of the board and the stability was reduced. For smaller paddlers it wouldn’t be an issue as the board overall would not be so sensitive to your position. Anyway, this is nitpicking an otherwise exceptional shape that is now an even better board with improved stiffness. Full of features with 2 cargo areas, accessory mount, FCS tool-less fin, the Starboard Touring 12’6″ Deluxe is a great cruising/touring board.
- Length: 12’6″
- Width: 31″
- Tail width: 16.7″
- Thickness: 6″
- Volume: 321 liters
- Weight: 26.8 lbs board only
- Max payload: 240 lbs/110 kg
- Fin: FCS II Connect Touring 9″ fin
- Warranty: 2 years
- Top quality Deluxe fusion construction
- Double Chamber stiffness makes for a better performing board
- Double Chamber security gives peace of mind when out paddling
- Double cargo areas with provided bungees
- FCS accessory mount for GPS, phone, GoPro
- FCS Connect II click in tool-less fin
- Textured deck pad provides excellent comfort and grip
- Tail handle for carrying/dragging board along is very handy
- Quick inflation with the dual action V8 pump
- Upgraded bag is now lighter weight and with stowable back pack straps
- Comes with light duty leash
- Two year warranty
- Reduced stability when moving back on the deck due to narrow tail, fast, but less stable
- Better suited to flatter water than choppy conditions – my paddle spots are all choppy
Improved for 2018 with the Double Chamber system, the 2018 Starboard 12’6″ x 31″ Touring Deluxe is a top quality and high performance touring and cruising board. The 12’6″ Touring is fast, stable and has amazing glide, the perfect shape for cruising and exploring. Starboard offers excellent value for money when you factor in the innovation and quality of the board, bag and pump. Find all the details here: Starboard 2018 Touring Deluxe 12’6″. If you can’t decide between the 12’6″ x 31″ Touring or the longer 14′ x 31″ Touring, give us a call: 1-888-252-4983.