The best of both worlds
As a fan of both windsurfing and stand up paddle boarding I’ve always considered windSUP appealing. Unfortunately, most SUPs are optimised for one or the other – paddle or sail.
It was with some interest (and initial scepticism) that I was handed AHD’s Summerboard – a hybrid twin fin concept derived from the brand’s popular Sealion range. For those in the know the Sealion is a windSUP able to be sailed in waves and delivers a decent level of strapless performance. (For a full review of the Sealion 8.3ft check out September’s edition of SUP Mag UK).
The Summerboard is a logical progression manufactured for families to get the maximum out of their time on the brine – moderate size wave riding, gentle pottering and mellow paddling – it’s all possible with AHD’s Summerboard.
To clarify: AHD’s Summerboard is designed to be sailed first and paddled second – something at odds with many other windSUPs. Straight out of the box it looks more like a windy stick than anything else.
The full EVA deck wrap is super friendly to bare skin ensuring a pleasant first experience for all ages. With rig attached, I tracked upwind efficiently – rear twinzer fins doing an admirable job in the light breeze. (For even greater close hauled performance, and teaching, you can fit a central Powerbox skeg that acts like a daggerboard to increase lateral resistance and stop side slip).
Cruising along the stability of the Summerboard is impressive while remaining lively under foot – even though you’re actually sailing a pretty big board. Tacking and flare gybing was easy enough although you’ll need to watch your foot placement as you step forwards round the mast – the Summerboard’s short length can sometimes submerge during overzealous stomping. Beginners and early intermediates will quickly learn to finesse movements.
Duckin’ one over AHD’s Summerboard
Rig flippin’ swell times
Having pottered about it was time to spice things up with a bit of light wind freestyle. The board’s generous width inspires confidence as the rider whirls and twirls. Windies can slow moves right down and dial in correct muscle memory (key to successful high wind windsurfing) – stance isn’t hampered by footstraps getting in the way.
Cheese ball light wind freestyle action on AHD’s Sealion Summerboard
The real litmus test, however, was going to be when/if the swell materialised. Summer on the south coast (UK) isn’t exactly prime time for wave antics and there was a bit of a wait. When a lump did finally show up it was only a short session, but certainly showed the potential of AHD’s design. Riding gutless wave faces it glides along happily and will provide hours of amusement for all. (If more performance and lower weight, from exactly the same design, is wanted go for the Sealion XL that comes without full EVA wrap and paddle strike guard).
Bottom turning smoothly the Summerboard feels relatively loose. The twin fins providing increased drive to slingshot back towards crumbly lips. Switching things up; wave riding front to sail, chucking in a 360 or comboing moves will help build your skills and improve confidence in general surf environments.
Dabbles with a paddle
Back on flatter water and the AHD Summerboard provides a platform all the family can enjoy. With the central fin attached it’s possible to teach beginners while kids will love messing about in between mom and dad taking it for a spin.
And what of its stand up paddling performance? The full rail wrap EVA deck adds to the weight and drag, and therefore stops the Summerboard being quite as efficient as the smooth railed Sealion XL. It does however track well and offers good stability for all sweepers. Our heavy boned tester did struggle with balance slightly and we found he was better on a bigger board – once fundamental SUP skills had been learnt he was fine.
The UK distributor uses this board to teach youngsters in the 6 to 11 year old age group how to SUP (up to 45kg). Its proportions work superbly, just as they do for the same age group learning to windsurf.
Heli tack hero on the AHD Summerboard
AHD’s Summerboard is a bit of a revelation in terms of windSUP performance. Offering slightly more than your standard recreational SUP, it shines when the breeze is marginal. In stand up mode it’s a good choice for gliding on mellow waves and general paddle antics – all who tried loved the soft deck and rails.
A great board for families that bridges the SUP/windy gap perfectly. AHD’s Summerboard delivers decent windSUP performance – light wind wave sailing and flat water fun – while still being good for stand up paddling shenanigans.
SRP for both Summerboard and Sealion XL: £999.00
UK/Ireland distributor www.kaisports.co.uk – Tel: 02380 840777
Sunshine cruisin’ on AHD’s Sealion Summerboard
|Program||0-15Knts ‘Any Wind Windsurfing’|| NOS
|Model||SEALION XL & Summerboard|
|Volume (litres)||151 & 152 for Summerboard|
|Width (cm)||75.6 & 76 for Summerboard|
|One Foot Off (cm)||59.8|
|Fin boxes||Twin US box rear and one centre Powerbox (supplied with blanking plate and screw)|
|Fins Supplied (cm)||Pair of AHD Twins 19.5|
||16 – 23|
||2.5 / 8.0|