Reuben is back with us from SUPboarder. This time he has an informative and detailed review of the 2018 Starboard Touring 12’6″ Deluxe Double Chamber board. We did our review a few weeks ago, you can see that here: Starboard 12’6″ Touring Deluxe review.
Reuben also offers some great insights and detailed info on the new Deluxe Double Chamber technology availalbe on many of the 2018 Starboards. We’ve been enjoying our Starboard inflatable SUP immensely this season – we have the 12’6″ Touring Deluxe in action here. For those who like to play along, with have transcribed the video below.
Starboard Inflatable Touring SUP Review
Hey welcome back to another SUPboarder review. This time we’re going to be having a look at the Starboard Touring inflatable board, this is the 12’6″ by 31″ in the Deluxe construction which for 2018 is a Double Chamber construction. They have an internal chamber here which is inflatable. You inflate it here and you have the more traditional based external chamber that you inflate at the back of the board. We’ll give you the full readings of how this came out and on our deflection test and what it’s like to paddle on the water.
Deluxe Double Chamber Technology
Now without a doubt, Starboard are pushing the boundaries and the R&D that they’re putting into the inflatable boards this year. We’ve already tested the Starboard All Star Airline board, which is where they’ve got a high tension cable going underneath the board, and this again is a new board for this year for them. It’s a double chamber construction.
The board still has an internal core of drop stitch and the internal double chamber as well has an internal core drop stitch and both the chambers, well the whole of the board is finished off in their fusion technology which is where you don’t have glue which bonds the second layer of PVC on the board making the board lighter and stiffer then a more traditional base board, and also brings down that glue content which is then better for the environment. The board is fished off as well with a 3k carbon band, which is the black layer around the rail of the board to give extra stiffness and just looks pretty cool. They also make this board in a Zen construction, which is the more lightweight stripped back version. It doesn’t come with a double chamber like this one.
The specifications for this board: 12’6″ long, 31″ wide, 6″ thick, 321 litres in volume and weighed in at just over 12 kg (26lbs) and it retails at £1175 ($1399). It’s finished off with a single US box touring fin.
Well, you definitely can’t say that we didn’t use this board because Will did actually paddle this round Menorca on a circumnavigation SUP paddle. Little mission he wanted to go and do. He had a week off and he paddled around it on this board fully laden with kit front and back and the board did perform really well. And remember you can follow Will and check out his full paddle of that trip on the Geo SUP app. So we have definitely used this board in lot different conditions.
As for paddling this board, because it is 12’6″ long, it offers you that nice amount of glide. Nice and easy to paddle in a straight line, especially with that nice 9 inch touring swept-back fin it comes with, but being 31 wide it still offers you that extra stability. Also the great capabilities to load up quite a lot of weight at the front and the back of the board, unlike some other touring boards that are more 29″, 30″ or 34″ when they’re getting wider, it’s a nice sort of width at 31″, offers you a good amount stability but doesn’t slow you down that much either.
So apart from the new double chamber technology that are on the deluxe boards, other things to note on this board that are really cool are: the rail edge runner at the back there releases the water much quicker, definitely feels better when you’re paddling and it feels like it’s got less drag at the tail and it does look to be releasing the water well. We’ve used that rail edge runner on other boards and the Airline boards have the same system. Really nice system, and it does actually work, it definitely releases the water quicker than having a rounded tail would do. And the nice thing you’ve got is a FCS type of star mount you can locate in here. You can screw this into the FCS mount in the front there and then that gives you the star mount. Obviously you can screw lots of different attachments and accessories into that star mount at the front. It’s also in a great place, to be just in front of both feet, very easy to reach and quick to have at hand. Other things that are well worth mentioning on this board :really big and stand up carry handle you can see it easily there on the video, nice EVA deck pad right to the back of the tail and they’ve even got a kick pad at the back of the tail which is the red EVA section you can see at the back. It’s nice to have even if you aren’t using it all the time for touring so then you have got that kick pad. Again, you know I’m a big believer in the kick pad. When you’re doing step-back turns, you know where to put your feet. A nice thing really like the fact that the board comes with bungees front and back, ready to go touring. That’s what we like, it is a touring board so we want to bring it straight out of the box and get on the water and use it to put some miles underneath our feet.
As for putting this board on the deflection test: now remember, our deflection test is where we put a board on a gap of 1.5m (5ft) apart and we put 75 kg (165lbs) of weight on the center, generally directly either side the handle and then we measure how much the board drops when you put the weight on. This board dropped 14 mm (0.5″) which is pretty strong, and it’s actually the same drop as the 2017 Blend that we tested in the Deluxe construction as well. That also proves that last year’s 2017 Deluxe construction was very strong and good in deflection too because this definitely feels stiffer underfoot. Now I think the reason this is, is if you look at where the double chamber is, the double chamber comes around and ends about 12 inches or a foot behind the handle and goes up towards the front of the board. So we’re measuring our deflection test, obviously the gap is here, and here, and the board isn’t really the double chamber, isn’t really bridging the gap between our deflection test so actually, the board on the water feels a lot stiffer, a way load stiffer then last year’s Deluxe did. But in the deflection test, it doesn’t come out quite like that, so just bear that in mind, because double chamber is a little bit further forward, because obviously, when you can be paddling hard and putting your effort in, you’re going to be pushing the nose and this part of the board down into the water a bit more. So that’s why they brought it further forward than having it into the middle part of the board. So it’s a really good move from Starboard but it’s definitely something you’ve got to be aware about when you’re looking back on our deflection results. So that’s why I think the deflection isn’t as strong as maybe you’d think it would be, but when you’re paddling the board, it is unbelievable how stable it feels, and actually, it feels really stable in the width. It’s a very strange thing to explain, but when you’re moving the board side-to-side, it just feels like a hard board, there’s no doubt about it. It feels really responsive and quite stable underfoot, it’s a very strange feeling, but it just feels really stable and that really is to do with that double chamber on the board. As far as using the double chamber and inflating it, it’s very, very easy. In fact it doesn’t take any more time than a normal board with one valve. I’ve tried inflating the center chamber first and then the outer chamber and I’ve tried inflating the outer chamber and then the inner chamber, doesn’t seem to make a difference. The inner smaller chamber takes 10PSI, so you inflate that about 15 seconds and the outer chamber obviously goes up to the recommended 15 to 18PSI. So when we were on our deflection test, we pumped this up to just 16PSI, just in case you’re wondering that.
So putting all that together, when it comes to paddling in choppy waters, slight downwind swells, going into wind, because of the double chamber and the slight nose kick at the nose there, it does punch into chop relatively well and rides down waves really well too. Bear in mind this is an iSUP, this hasn’t going to have the top-end performance as a hard board would do, but for an iSUP it’s pretty good, in fact it’s very good. As putting it in a touring sense, it’s a great board to put weight on and get somewhere into wind, or downwind, because that’s the real truth about touring, you can plan loads and pick the perfect weather window but it isn’t always like that, which Will found in that circumnavigation. He had headwinds, he had tailwind, he had side winds, he had good days and bad days, and that really is what touring is about, and whatever board you take, it has got to be able to handle those conditions as best as any board could do.
Another thing that’s worth talking about and highlighting for you sup tourers out there, especially if you’re getting into iSUPs is the safety aspect of sup touring. Lots of things can happen when you’re touring, you can be far out to sea, maybe you’re inland and doing rivers, it’s not so much of a worry, but what happens if your board does have a slow puncture or a leak, or something happens. You don’t know what could happen, it could be something, with the double chamber you’ve got the hope of having an internal chamber that doesn’t get deflated, if you have a punc ture. I really think that’s a very nice move and personally if I was paddling a long distance it’s just nice to have as much of that knowledge and comfort you’ve got a bit of safety there as an extra chamber will stay inflated. Yes if you’ve got 50 kilos worth of bags on there, it might not float it, and you might have to shed your bags, but it will float you and keep you on the water, and keep you safe, so it’s definitely something to think about and a lot of other brands who are making real touring based boards, it’s something that I as a tourer would really like to see on more boards in general.
So having a look at the bottom of board here you can see the slight bit of nose rocker at the front there which is great for getting over bumps and chop especially into wind. Stainless steel d-ring up at the front there, you can see the double chamber in the center area, the board looks pretty good and it’s pretty smooth and finished off really well so it definitely isn’t going to slow you down at all having that double chamber. Moving towards the back of the board, pretty slim line US box and finished off with a tail edge runner there.
Fin wise, it comes with the FCS SUP touring 9″ fin, a really nice swept back fin that doesn’t get caught on seaweed and it also slips in the box very easy and locks down in place. A very quick system that’s easy to get in and out.
Having a quick look at the bag you get with the Starboard Deluxe range, you get the nice top-end quality bag of made out of recycled materials. Ripstop nylon, very lightweight, which is nice to be doing when you’re traveling and touring. Still got the wheels, got the handles everywhere. This board bag, this physical board bag has been on the airplane, it’s been pushed around airports. I’ve been down cliffs with it and it hasn’t got any rips or marks at all and we have loaded it up and used it pretty thoroughly so it really has been tested to the edge and it’s come out on top. So a really nice looking bag and a very practical bag.
To the pump it comes with, it is great for the traveler or tourer because it breaks down relatively small. You can take the foot pegs off the bottom of the pump and you can attach them separately. It’s a double action pump, it pumps on the upstroke and the downstroke and then you can turn it over to just pump on the downstroke. It’s not the biggest pump, but then personally that’s a good thing if you’re traveling because everything’s about space and weight saving, so it does take a little bit longer to inflate then the bigger double chamber pumps but it does get the air in quick enough and it’s nice and lightweight so it’s absolutely fine as a touring package for a big board.
So who do we think this board will best suit, well paddling weight 60 to 110 kg (130-245lbs). You could use this racing, you could use this as a first-time SUP, there’s no doubt about it, it’s nice and stable, but really it’s going to lend itself well to being loaded up and being used as it’s a great touring board and it’s going to take you places and take a lot of weight and it’s ready to go.
So pros and cons and value for money. Will definitely the pros, it’s a very good shape and a good width that offers you a lot of stability, but still enough glide to take you places with a lot of equipment, and the double chamber stuff, it’s a great move, it’s definitely stiffer underfoot and also adds that extra bit of safety. Cons, well the double chamber does add a bit more weight so you are going to be looking at a heavier board, especially compared to the Zen model. That is something you just have to bear in mind and be aware of. I would personally pick a slightly heavier board that’s stronger and stiffer, over a lighter board and value for money. Well at £1175 it is definitely not the most expensive iSUP on the market, but it’s definitely not the cheapest either. But this is a big player, the Starboard range of boards is a fantastic range and a very well known brand. You’ve got to remember that when you buy into a board brand like this, you’re buying into a pedigree of boards and a price point for that from them, with this construction, I think it’s a very good price point with a hell of a lot to give you.