2018 red paddle co - 2018 range of inflatable SUP paddle board

The 2017 Red Paddle Co 11’3″ Sport inflatable paddle board is a new model for 2017. The 11′ Sport gets another big brother! With the 12’6″ Sport being introduced in 2016 to fill a gap for those who wanted an 11′ Sport but needed something bigger and didn’t want to choose the 28″ wide Race board and forego stability, or give up speed and glide if opting for the 12’6″ Explorer, well, now we have a step between with the 11’3″ Sport. The 11’3″ Sport keeps the stability of a Ride all round board at 32″ wide, but offers a more streamlined outline for faster paddling and better glide.

The Sport line up of boards have been designed for a slightly more experienced paddler, offering a step up in speed and dynamic performance from the Ride family of boards, but not the out and out speed at the cost of stability of the Races or Elites.

2016 was a year where the introduction of MSL set Red Paddle Co apart from all the other inflatable paddle board manufacturers. While many of them are playing catch up with fusion style constructions of their own, Red Paddle Co is already a year ahead and improving on the industry leading MSL Technology. MSL is a patented technology and construction process, much like Gore-Tex, so you won’t find it on any other paddle boards.

So does the 11’3″ Sport have space to slot in between the Rides, the 11′ Sport and 12’6″ Sport in what is becoming a slightly crowded lineup? Let’s take a look at the details, how it paddles, who it’s good for and how it fits into the Red Paddle Co range. So let’s begin with the 2017 Red Paddle Co 11’3″ Sport review and walk around video.

TL;DR: Being a young and passionate company, Red Paddle Co can listen and respond to input in a very quick time frame. Introducing a 3rd new Sport model in 3 years shows they are on the right track with board design. The 2017 11’3″ Sport is the perfect board for paddlers who want something a little quicker than a Ride but don’t want to give up the stability. 

The bag

The 2017 inflatable sup board bag is an updated version of the 2016 bag with an internal mesh pocket (great for your fin), bungee tie downs for a 3 piece paddle, foil lining on the bag material and upgraded zipper pulls. It features an easy loading system where the bag zips all the way along 3 sides opening up wide so you can get your gear in and out very easily.

For your board, you have the strap to hold the board wrapped up but there is also a handy internal cinch strap which keeps your board positioned and secure in the bag during travel. For 2017, they’ve also included paddle holding bungees and a mesh pocket to help pack a fin and locate items while travelling. The foil lining improves the heat protection of the board if you leave it in your car or in a hot climate and doubles as a waterproof lining so your wet gear won’t leak out of the bag after a session. Bag dimensions remain the same at: 37″ high, 14″ wide and 12″ deep.

Space is aplenty for the pump, a 3 piece paddle, leash and even wetsuit, PFD etc. The Titan Pump comes with the board wrapped around it which is a great space saving technique and something I continue to do. It also keeps the pump secure with the board when cinched down. With previous pumps, this wasn’t such an issue but as the Titan is a little bulkier it makes sense to use the space inside the rolled up board for something, keep it secure in the bag and have room for more. I’ll get into this more later in this review but thanks to the new construction process/material of the board, it now also rolls tighter leaving you even more room in the bag for extras.

Carry handles on both sides, as well as the top and bottom give you, and baggage handlers, plenty of places to grab and carry the bag. The Sherpa backpack system remains in 2017 so you can carry the bag on your back with comfortable shoulder and waist straps, or tuck them away out of sight and away from baggage belt monsters and just roll the bag on the integrated wheels and be confident the bag will arrive safely. See more photos of the bag here.

As packaged from the factory the board is protected by a layer of plastic to separate the board from itself when rolled, small inflatable “water wings” which go around the fins to help them keep shape, the Titan pump in it’s own bag and a bag that bundles the whole lot. The FCS II Connect fin is in its own little plastic bag, hidden away in the new internal mesh pocket.

The pump

12-2017-red-paddle-co-titan-pump-fast-pump-inflateThe majority of the standard Red Paddle Co line now comes standard with the improved Titan Pump. The 8’10” Whip and 9’4″ Snapper come with the Red Paddle Co Ezee HP since they are small, low volume boards. Overall the Titan makes pumping the board a much quicker process. The angled foot base and wide handle work well for me with my long legs and wide shoulders. I always found the Ezee and Ezee HP a little small to get my frame around, kinda like an elephant riding a bike. Anyway, Red have taken into account some of the ergonomics for comfortable and efficient inflation as well as doubling the input volume of air with every stroke. Pump up to about 8-10 PSI on the included gauge and then you pull the red plug out of the back of the handle, affix to the little nub so it doesn’t flap around, and continue on the HP side to go all the way to 25 PSI. The Titan still beats any electric pump I’ve come across in inflation time, but yes, you do have to do the work…

While it may look similar, the 2017 Titan Pump has been totally reworked internally and is now even more efficient. Improved handle design, beefier internal valves, hose adaptors for your favourite inflatable toys, it pumps even more smoothly and efficiently.

Inflating the 2017 11’3″ Red Air Sport took me 4 minutes and 10 seconds including the time required to insert the RSS battens. Add another 5 seconds to attach the easy to install FCS II Connect 9″ fin and you’re good to go!

The board

The Red Paddle Co 11’3″ Sport is a new model for 2017. Dimensionally it differs from the other Sports slightly. It is 11’3″ long, 32″ wide and 4.75″ thick. The 11′ Sport is 11′ x 30″ x 4.75 and the 12’6″ Sport is 12’6″ x 30″ x 5.9″. Being a new model it also benefits from the improved details of Red Paddle Co for 2017, a few minor tweaks and upgrades. You can’t really see the thicker second layer as part of the MSL Fusion process, but you can see the revised deck pad (diamond cut rear section), rail and shoulder graphics, RAM Mount on the nose integrated with a d-ring and velcro locator patch for the RSS Battens.

Once again for 2017, thanks to the MSL Fusion construction, the board finish is so good it looks like a regular hard board. MSL, or Monocoque Structural Laminate Fusion, basically eliminates a lot of excess glue and human error. In previous years, the “board within a board” Red Paddle Co is famous for was primarily glued together, making a super durable board but adding extra weight and the potential for hand gluing or human errors.

This process consists of industrially fusing and machine pressing the inner layer of polymer to the high density drop stitch core at the raw material stage. Same “board with a board” construction but with material that is now structurally more sound, even more rigid, as well as lighter. More details about MSL over here. For 2017, the Red Paddle Co have made further improvements to the MSL material, increasing thickness and bond strength which means they can reduce batch inconsistencies and allows them to make boards from the most advanced drop stitch available.

MSL tech talk aside, what does this mean for the paddler? Well, the cosmetic finish is drastically improved as I’ve mentioned, the boards are about 20% lighter over standard double layer boards, and since they are fused and machine pressed together, they are essentially one piece instead of 2 layers, and are structurally stiffer at lower pressure. Red Paddle Co recommend a pumping pressure of 16-22 PSI for most applications to make the most of these benefits and improve overall performance.

I usually stop pumping at 20 PSI on the Red Paddle Co boards, I prefer to be paddling than pumping. I find this is a good match between pumping effort and stiffens on the water. If it is choppier or I’ll have my kids on the front, I might pump a little more.

Red Paddle Co have famously tested the durability and toughness of their boards over the years, see a 2014 board taking a beating. Knowing that the 2017 MSL construction boards are even stronger than before should put your mind at ease!

The 2017 11’3″ Sport weighs in at 21lbs, including battens and fin. Red Paddle Co are careful not to make the boards too light. Yes, there is such a thing. Obviously the weight is there for rigidity and performance reasons, but we also need some weight in the board to control it in rougher waters or wind. A board with some weight is predictable and stable making it better suited to all paddlers.

As with the 11′ and 12’6″ Sports, the 11’3″ comes with RSS battens which are designed to counter the effects of the paddler’s standing position and weight, the point around which inflatables can flex. RSS battens improve stiffness by up to 50%. That said, it is hard to notice any flex at all when paddling a Red Paddle Co board.

For 2017, Red Paddle Co have chosen to go with the tool-less fin set up offered by the FCS II Connect fins. Many of the boards now use the 9″ touring style fin which inserts easily into the US fin box in a matter of seconds. It is so simple, I don’t know why all brands don’t sell all boards, both inflatable and hard boards, with these fins. Those little nuts and plate things would so often get lost or damaged so a tool-less option with 5 second insert and 5 second removal is a very welcome change.

Up a little closer we can see the edges of the material are cleanly cut, the glue lines that previously wandered are all now dead straight thanks to the robots. The tie-down d-rings are now stainless steel with heavy duty bungee cord. The center carry handle is now padded. There is now also a carry handle integrated into the leash d-ring on the tail which is excellent for pulling the board through waves, up the beach or generally just holding on etc.

Further updates to the range featured on this board are the Red Paddle Co logos on the top and underside of the nose are now screen printed on rather than a layer in itself, further saving weight.

The rest

The package includes a repair kit with glue and patches. A waterproof phone case that comes with inflation instructionspump tips and care tips inside. A wrapping strap to keep the board rolled up.

On the water

I’m 190lbs, more or less, mostly more especially after the holidays, and the 11’3″ Sport is a great board. The 11′ Sport is too small for me, read my 11 Sport review here, so the 11’3″ slots in nicely for something more manoeuvrable and a little more stable than the 12’6″ Sport, which I should mention also moves up the the thicker 5.9″ drop stitch construction. This provides a stiffer board at the same PSI but requires more pumping. The 12’6″ also works very well for me, faster with better glide etc, but I prefer a slightly wider more manoeuvrable board for all round stuff.

The board has excellent glide and tracks well thanks to the amazing 9″ FCS II Connect fin. It has more nose rocker than a regular touring or race board to go over chop or rough waters rather than pierce through it, this helps with general stability and comfort in paddling. Board is narrower in the forward section compared to all round boards, designed for speed but the mid board width carries a long way back to the tail to maintain stability. The extra width and square tail makes it easy to move up and down the deck while being confident in the stability of the board and to turn the board.

Will also surf small waves thanks to extra nose rocker and the squared off tail/wide deck area allowing you to get right back and control the board.

The deck pad is large and comfortable. It has a “crocodile-skin” textured finish which provides ample grip for general use and is very comfortable. New for 2017 on the Sport range, the rear section (about 1.5′ from the tail inwards) is now a diamond cut EVA texture which provides better grip towards the tail for step back turns. It also helps you know where your foot is in relation to the tail without having to look down, in barefoot at least. The diamond texture also provide better grip for getting back on the board to ride waves.

Vitals

  • Length: 11’3″
  • Width: 32″
  • Thickness: 120mm, 4.72 inches
  • Volume: 306 liters
  • Weight: 21 lbs board only, 30 lbs with backpack and pump
  • Max payload: 240 lbs/110 kg
  • Warranty: 1 year

Likes

  • Very stable and fast cruising SUP
  • Amazing tracking from fin, being tool-less is a huge bonus too
  • Top notch finish and build quality
  • Super stiff at 4.75″ thick and with RSS battens
  • Quick inflation with the Titan Pump
  • Comfy handles, useful tail mounted handle
  • Large and comfy deck pad
  • Clever internal packaging in the bag for secure transportation of paddle and other accessories
  • RAM Mount to mount accessories like GPS, camera or phone
  • Improved EVA deck pad with diamond texture towards the tail for better feeling and grip
  • Excellent glide and tracking

Dislikes

  • RSS Battens are a pain to get in the first few times before the pockets loosen up
  • I don’t have one of my own yet…

In conclusion

A board with a clear and deserved place in the 2017 Red Paddle co range. An excellent all round, day cruising and touring cross over board for those who want stability coupled with good glide and speed. Excellent value for money when you consider the excellent quality of the board, upgraded bag and upgraded pump. Find all the details here: 2017 Red Paddle Co 11’3″ Sport.

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About the author: Julian Kidd
I have been an avid stand up paddle boarder since 2009. I retired from professional kiteboarding to focus on SUP. Green Water Sports grew from this love of all things SUP. As well as being a keen paddle boarder, I'm a hockey fan, football fan, closet petrol head, web tinkerer, husband and father.

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