|First Look. 10’6″ Badfish MCIT, Tacoma not for sale.|
Innovation and Background
Well there has been a lot of excitement about the new Boardworks Surf Badfish line of standup paddle river boards and inflatables. Built by mountain-based watermen, located in Salida, Colorado at the foot of 14,000 foot peaks on the Arkansas River and after four years of brainstorming, prototyping, surfing, and stand up paddling rivers, a new type of SUP board was born. Mike Harvey and Zack Hughes, two whitewater experts have brought their incredible line of Badfish boards and have partnered with Boardworks Surf. These guys are leading the charge with very innovative and unique SUP boards designed specifically for challenging river conditions, river surfing and far reaching applications for their inflatables. With countless rivers, coastlines and lakes, it’s the type of line that will complement the Canadian paddler and the variable bodies of water we have in our backyards. The potential is very exciting.
|Portable Backpack, Center fin fits in zippered pocket.|
I was pretty stoked to pick up two of their inflatable 10 6″ MCIT’s (Multi Chambered Inflatable Technology) from Boardworks Surf Canada. I have been thinking a lot that the inflatable niche is going to be a growing market because there are so many applications. They are such a cool idea and the technology has been impressive and growing. I have only been on a couple of inflatables for a short time so i was pretty excited to try them out. The 10’6″ i tried is 35 inches wide and a 4 inch deck thickness. These boards also come in 9’6″ and 11’6″ models with colors blue, red, grey and yellow.
I pumped up the board right in my garage to have a first look at it. I have been using the K-20 pump which has made my life a lot easier pumping up boards. The K-20 does not come with the board but once you use this pump you won’t use anything else, at least i haven’t. The board itself comes in a backpack carrying case, and with a stock pump and repair kit. The stock pump does a good job getting most of the air in but becomes pretty challenging when trying to get the last few PSI into it. The K-20 can be used by anyone and gets the board pumped up quick. The last few pounds on an inflatable make all the difference and allows the board to perform efficiently making it stiff and stable. It took me just under 13 minutes to have the board ready to go. The K-20 pump has a main pump that gets most of the air in and then you can switch to a smaller finishing pump to top the board off. Great design and very portable. They come in their own carrying case and i recommend getting the Kwik Check Gauge to make sure the correct amount of air is in an not over or under inflated. Both the K-20 pump and the gauge can be purchased through Boardworks Surf dealers. The Badfish MCIT has three chambers, a drop stitched central body that requires 14lbs and two tapered rails that require 7lbs. Blown up this board looks really good and is a real head turner. The board also comes with two plastic side fins and one large removable center fin.
|The K-20 pump with Kwik Check Gauge|
|The put in with gear.|
|The lower Squamish|
Once i got down to the lower reaches of the river, I experienced a pretty strong headwind coming off the ocean and i found that the board seemed to paddle pretty well and efficiently on the flatwater. The river was not flowing too strong so i even paddled back up river and was impressed with the ease of moving forward. The rockered nose allowed moving water to flow under the board instead of piling up against it. I took a friend of mine who has been on a standup before but had not paddled a river on an SUP and he absolutely loved the board. Once i gave the board up to him i never got it back. He was very stable and did not have to swim at any point. I could see his mind racing with the potential of more trips. We did experience a couple of sections where it got pretty shallow and it was a simple task to get off the board lift the tail by the grab loop, or pick it up completely and walk the board through these sections. After finishing the afternoon tour, we had to scramble up a steep shoreline and the lightness of these boards and with three grab handle options made it very easy to carry the board back to the vehicle. The boards deflated really quickly and in minutes i had the board back in its bag. These inflatable seem to be very well built and the solid construction lessens the continual worries you would have if you were paddling a hard board. I have gone down this same stretch of river on an 11 6″ hard board and i found that the inflatables flex and conform to the variable water conditions making them much more safe and stable. We passed a few fisherman on the river and you could see how fishing off these boards would make a lot of sense. My buddies in Northern Ontario would love fishing for bass, pike and Walleye off these and portaging them into untouched lakes and rivers. Paddling a place like Killarney Provincial Park would be a blast. You could carry everything you need.
|Darren testing the Badfish|
I have been guiding on the coast for 12 years and my mind lights up with the applications for these inflatables on the coast. I have been running my Greatbear Rainforest SUP trips for four years now and these have been the ideal sup inflatable. Not having to transport 8 hardboards from Squamish to Prince Rupert, then onto a ferry off a ferry, on a support boat off a support boat makes so much sense and having 6-8 of these in a backpack makes me smile. They are stable and comforatable. I have no doubt the performance of these boards will allow the efficient movement and exploration of lakes, rivers and hard to reach places much more easy. My friends on sailboats and motherships are really excited to see them and I have been talking with my fishing friends to try them out. With the stability and perspective you get from these boards I can see a whole niche of fisherman that would love the ease of use and durability in rivers and lakes. The 10 6″ would have no problem carrying a solid day pack of gear but i think for big multiday day trips and the ability to carry a large amount of the 11’6″ would be your choice. Multi day river trips on these boards seem to be a no brainer. We have recently sold Badfish Inflatables to the luxury resort Nimmo Bay and owner Fraser Murray say they are ideal for their heli adventure and wildlife viewing programs. Bottom line is that they are lot of fun. Being able to take one with me when I fly up the coast in floatplanes will give me the option to paddle anywhere anytime.
BW 3 Piece Paddle
Another product that Boardworks Surf Canada carries is a three piece SUP paddle which breaks down and can be transported with the board. In the carrying case provided I think you can carry your K20 pump, repair kits and 3 piece paddle all together. As i said i will be using these boards to teach First Nations kids to SUP on our coast and i will start using these on our multi day SUP expeditions to the Greatbear Rainforest. They will be fun at camps and cottages and will be ideal for families and will stand up to a lot of abuse. They take care of the storage problem that so many of us have. This is just one product in teh Badfish line. I am excited to visit my friends in the Smithers, Terrace and Hazelton areas so we can try out the incredible line of river surfing boards the boys at Badfish have shaped as well.
|Boardworks 3 piece paddle.|
My testing will continue throughout the season and more reports are sure to follow. A number of people have asked me my thoughts on these inflatables so i thought i should get my initial impressions out there. Thanks to Darren Ashby for helping me test them out and thanks to Jenni Chancey for the pick up. See you on the water. Any questions feel free to email me at email@example.com
More on the Badfish inflatable design:
BOARDWORKS UNVEILS REVOLUTIONARY INFLATABLE SUP DESIGN!! from Boardworks Surf on Vimeo.