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

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    2017 Red Paddle Co 14′ Race

    From: $1649.00 $1299.00
The 2017 Red Paddle Co 14′ Race inflatable paddle board is a new model for 2017. I say new because it is essentially the 2016 14′ Elite, just now called a 14′ Race. This change in name was so that the top of the line board with new features and changes would still carry the Elite name. The 2017 14′ Race finds a nice spot in the line up to suit amateur to intermediate racers.

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 14′ Race have space to slot in under the 14′ Elite? 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 14′ Race review and walk around video.

TL;DR: Racing is only increasing in popularity and we aren’t all fly weight pros, so the 14′ Race slots in nicely into the Red Paddle Co 2017 range as a board for weekend warriors or intermediate racers, or even people just looking for a faster glide on their daily paddles. It’s fast but not too crazy to still be stable and enjoyable for a fast cruise. The best part, the 14′ board packs down into a bag and can be checked in on any flight, any plane. Take that 14′ carbon race board!

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 glass race fin is in its own pouch, and can 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 14′ Red Air Race took me 4 minutes and 40 seconds including the time required to insert the RSS battens. Add another 30 seconds to attach the glass race fin into the new, longer, 8″ US fin box.

The board

The Red Paddle Co 14′ Race is a renamed model for 2017. Coming from the 2016 14′ Elite, it does not differ in shape or size. It is 14′ long, 26″ wide and 5.9″ thick. The 2017 Elite is now 25″ wide and features the Forward Flex Control system which works in conjunction with the RSS battens for unrivalled stiffness and inflatable SUP performance, so the Elite retains the top of the range performance position.

The board benefits from the improved details of the wider Red Paddle Co range 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 carry handles and positioning, rail and shoulder graphics 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!

As with other high performance inflatable SUPs from Red Paddle Co, the 14′ Race 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.

Below we have a comparison of the 2016 14′ Elite and the 2017 14′ Race. Slide the arrows to see the changes.


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 forward carry handles have been slightly repositioned for better BOP racing (running in and out of the water with the board). The center carry handle now also features an integrated d-ring which is a handy spot to connect a leash and really minimise any drag.

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 nose runner fins are more streamlined now so they roll up better with the board and aren’t as sharp to the touch.

The 2017 8″ US fin box is now a little longer than the 6.75″ of 2016. Originally, the 6.75″ fin box was used to aid in rolling the board more tightly and reducing drag in the water but with a fin box of 8″, you are now able to add more fin styles and sizes so you can really tune your board to your style or conditions. Or add an after market tool-less fin.

The 2017 14′ Race weighs in at 22lbs, fully kitted out with RSS 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.

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, and the 14′ Race is a fast and sleek racing board. For smaller paddlers, you’d be fine on the 12’6″ Race or perhaps one of the Elites but I like a little more stability than out and out speed. I’m happy to be a little slower if I’m not on a narrow Elite board and loosing time falling in often. It has quite a flat rocker line and very long and parallel outline so the board has exceptional glide and tracking, as well as great tracking from the glass race fin. With the flat rocker and narrow outline, it prefers flat water but can handle chop if you desire. The built in nose runner fin on top of the deck is great at shedding water if burying the nose in chop. It won’t bog down and slow you down, it’ll shed water and come back up so you can keep powering on.

The deck pad is diamond cut with crocodile texture on most of the standing area while towards the tail, it switches over to flat crocodile-skin texture to save weight but still give you grip for buoy turns. Very comfortable and I really like the diamond cut underfoot. It offers a bit more grip for getting the power down and balancing the board for the most speed.

The inboard leash towards the tail is very handy to keep the leash from dragging. As is the center leash point on the center carry handle. That’s a cool spot to add your leash if you’re a real speed freak.

Vitals

  • Length: 14′
  • Width: 26”
  • Thickness: 150mm, 5.90 inches
  • Volume: 340 liters
  • Weight: 22 lbs, or 31 lbs in pack with pump
  • Max payload: 265 lbs/120 kg
  • Warranty: 1 year

Likes

  • Very fast racing SUP with unbelievable glide
  • Amazing tracking overall and from glass race fin
  • Top notch finish and build quality
  • Insanely stiff at 5.9″ thick and with RSS battens
  • Quick inflation with the Titan Pump
  • Large and comfy deck pad
  • Clever internal packaging in the bag for secure transportation of paddle and other accessories

Dislikes

  • RSS Battens are a pain to get in the first few times before the pockets loosen up
  • Tool-less fin would be nice, but the glass fin is better than current plastic tool-less fins

In conclusion

A board for the race paddler market but a part of the sport that will be very popular. An excellent beginner to intermediate, or heavier  advanced paddler race SUP, or a fast cruising SUP for someone who needs all the speed and glide they can get. A little tippy, but you’re looking at this board to go fast and/or win races, not balancing contests.  A speed demon for the masses and the 14′ Elite for the Pros and lightweights! Excellent value for money when you consider comparable carbon racing SUPs are double the price and won’t fit anywhere. This is all but as fast and fits in the trunk of your car. What are you waiting for? Find all the details here: 2017 Red Paddle Co 14′ Race.

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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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