Author Topic: Inflatable vs composite boards especially as it relates to safety?  (Read 417 times)

SpaceRacer

  • Waikiki Status
  • *
  • Posts: 9
    • View Profile
Hi, I am an intermediate SUP surfer, who is currently surfing the Starboard Whopper 10' 171L Starlite and as I get into bigger and especially pitchier swell, I am concerned about getting slammed onto that board, which almost happened today.  I have never surfed an inflatable but am wondering if, all things being equal, they are safer than composite boards when it comes to getting rolled in surf?  I was always under the impression that inflatables do not perform as well as composite boards but for my level and with my concerns, are they a good option?  It seems like the inflatables are getting better too?  I was thinking of maybe dropping down to a 140L composite board for safety in larger swell (but I am happy on the 171L) but I cannot imaging that there is much difference between the 171L and 140L when it comes to safety.  I can also imagine another frustrating learning curve as I drop down in volume and weight.  Any thoughts would be much appreciated.  Thanks, SR     

seadart

  • Rincon Status
  • ***
  • Posts: 134
    • View Profile
Re: Inflatable vs composite boards especially as it relates to safety?
« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2018, 01:25:03 PM »
It may sound counter intuitive but I would feel much safer in heavy surf on a much lower volume composite board.  Inflatables tend to be very floaty and with the large volume  when huge waves hit them your leash will have to deal with a lot more power and stress trying to drag you with the heavy wave and foam.  With lower volume boards you can grab the tail bury the nose and ride out a huge hit in the water.  If you are worried about the solid board hitting you, you need to learn how to tuck and position your paddle so the board does not hit you if you dive off to the side or back.  Learning how to wipeout in big surf is much more important than board size.  You can also look into getting a decent surf helmet.  In heavy winter surf I use Gath Gedi helmet.  I had a serious head injury once (not surf related) and know  that a helmet gives you a lot of protection in the surf.  Head injuries can change your life forever, so I think it's worth looking like a kook.  Part of feeling safer in the water is getting confidence in bigger surf.  Start small and go out on bigger and bigger days as you learn your limitations and learn how to deal with issues like broken leashes and nasty swims.

jarvissup

  • Rincon Status
  • ***
  • Posts: 158
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Inflatable vs composite boards especially as it relates to safety?
« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2018, 01:44:57 PM »
SpeedRacer,
I have surfed a good inflatable and I have to disagree with seadart.  The inflatables put much less stress on the leash when the board gets caught in the surf. A lot less!, they are so buoyant that they are always on top of the water and don't get caught/ dragged and are much easier in that regard. You will be amazed at how light it feels on the end of the leash. Now, as a surf board, you won't get the same performance as a composite board, but if you get a good one, it will surf, turn, cutback, and you'll have a lot of fun. The other thing fun about inflatables is that they catch waves very easily. I had a 9' Uli Lopez model that caught waves as easily as an 11' board!!
    Finally, and maybe for some most importantly, they do not hurt you when they hit you in the surf, not much anyway. I miss that Uli for messing around in closeout surf, and riding shore break. I never worried about getting rolled with it, or hoping off in the shallows and letting it hit the beach.
     Get an Uli Lopez, or Steamroller and have a blast.

devon_sup_surf

  • Malibu Status
  • **
  • Posts: 77
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Inflatable vs composite boards especially as it relates to safety?
« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2018, 03:21:25 PM »
OP are you really an intermediate on a 171L board? Unless you are extremely heavy that must be very hard to move around.

I would take a different view to the above. Knowing your board can hurt you means you quickly learn to respect it. Get out of its way, make sure a wave won't push the board into you etc. Bail early from waves and make sure you jump clear of the board. Be super careful that it's not going to hit any one else either.

I would also feel a lot more confident on an agressive wave on well shaped hard board than any inflatable.

Depending on your ability- you may wish to drop down to a smaller board- you may find negotiating it in the water a little easier and safer. And learn to avoid it properly :)

Having said all that- I have been hit in the face by a sup once- someone else- and thank goodness it was an inflatable!

Oh- totally agree on the gath gedi. I have one and it saved a nasty head injury 2 weeks ago for me. First time in 3 years it has really helped.

JimK

  • Cortez Bank Status
  • *****
  • Posts: 2016
  • Big Guys can have fun too!
    • View Profile
Re: Inflatable vs composite boards especially as it relates to safety?
« Reply #4 on: November 26, 2018, 05:21:02 AM »
space Racer

knowing your size an inflatable in the surf is a serious reduction in performance a smaller composite board (with proper float) and a good helmet is a MUCH better call

Let me know if I can help
JimK
Extreme windsurfing

SpaceRacer

  • Waikiki Status
  • *
  • Posts: 9
    • View Profile
Re: Inflatable vs composite boards especially as it relates to safety?
« Reply #5 on: November 26, 2018, 06:33:50 AM »
Thanks guys, I appreciate it.  SR