Got myself an inflatable WindSUP (www.fanatic.com/product/viper-air-4/) to enjoy the light wind days on the PPB, teach my 9 &10 yr old kids windsurfing, riding together with them on really light wind days and maybe get my wife to join the fun too...You may think the SUP forums would be a more appropriate for this post but I am primarily interested in using it for windsurfing.
To put my review in a better context let me first say that I am a 48 yr old, 84 Kg, beginner/intermediate, can do waterstarts, get in footstraps and plane reasonably comfortably...my smallest board is a SB Carve 121...planning to get a FSW board later this summer.
Here is my experience so far:
-Taking the board to the water: This is one of the best things about this board; it comes with a backpack that is light enough to walk from home to the beach (I live 5 mins away from the Kiosk on Elwood beach). I can also carry the kids rig I have or my 5.3 rig easily so no need to pack the stuff in the car and drive; however it would be pretty easy to drive with this kit as it fits in my compact size car's boot without any problem.- Pumping it up: Not much problem there either.. It comes with a dual action pump and takes under 10 mins to pump it up to 16-17 PSI (recommended range is 15-22PSI). It takes a bit of an effort and I usually take a short break after I have pumped it into shape. I put on the mast base and the fins (two 19 cm fins one of which is a centre fin that helps significantly with going upwind). Then I resume pumping. Even though this is a good warm up exercise, I bought a rechargeable pump from Anaconda for $37 that takes only a minute to do the first part i.e. pumping the board into shape. It is really cheap and light enough to carry inside the backpack.
-On the water: Obviously the most important part of the review :)...In light winds it is an absolute joy to right it...it is soft and forgiving enough for the kids for falling or climbing on it but quite rigid so it does not bend and feel like a lilo. I can put one of the kids in front and the other at the back for a bit of family fun only in light wind and staying close to the beach.
For stronger winds I was thinking it would not work but I was really wrong...it does work quite well actually...the other day the wind picked up to 20 knots with 23 knot gusts I was on the bay with no problems..the board planes in a different way compared to a hard board and because it is inflatable it absorbs the chop really well...normally a big board e.g. my 161 Lt Go would be jumping all over the place and would be uncomfortable borderline unsafe, this one sticks to the water and goes upwind no problems at all..I haven't tried higher winds yet but I don't think it would be a problem to come home if I get caught up by a sudden increase in the wind.
One of the best things about this board is it is great for practicing tacks, gibes etc as it is very forgiving thanks to its volume (315 Liters)..It feels everything you do on it is in slow motions.
-Using it as a SUP: It should work fine but I haven't tried it yet...Ordered a cheap 3-piece paddle that I will keep it in the deck net to come home if the wind dies.
Overall, I highly recommend this board that is easy to store and carry and most importantly great fun... especially when you are itching to get on the water when there is little or no wind.
Inflatable's are great for that. But I would recommend you buy a better quality paddle.....adjustable lighter weight. When the wind is not there go for a sup. The paddle make a big difference. Especially when you get the bug and upgrade