THIS is the board that I wish I had when I tackled the ‘Polar Bears and Paddleboards’ expedition in 2013. The new BillBoard SUP takes the concept of inflatable paddleboards to an entirely new and far higher level. Advances in technology, design and materials combined with a winning design team have created a SUP which is capable of so much more than ever before.
In 2013 ten of us flew out to Greenland to undertake a paddleboard expedition. We arrived in Greenland at the very start of August expecting the weather to be cool but not cold, the water to be chilly and one or two icebergs bobbing around to keep us company and provide a great backdrop for images and videos. What we found when we arrived was entirely different.
Greenland was experiencing a bit of a heatwave, in fact one of the hottest on record, which started just a few days before we flew in to Kulusuk. The air temperature was a whopping 28 degrees, the water temperature was hovering somewhere around minus 2.5 degrees and there were icebergs quite literally everywhere. As explained to us by an exploratory group of glaciologists from Cambridge University (UK) a combination of the hot weather, a shift in the gulf-stream pushing slightly warmer water up to the face of the glaciers and a generally accepted model of ‘warming’ on Greenland, the glaciers calving at a much faster rate than usual were depositing huge amounts of ice in to the sea.
The proliferation of ice prevented us from reaching our ultimate goal, but the expedition was still a huge success raising a whole tonne of money for charity and spurring on the growth of paddleboarding.
The new BillBoard SUP would have been absolutely PERFECT for the expedition, but they weren’t invented yet, unfortunately. Imagine; packable, portable, fast to inflate, tough, robust, fast, stable, manoeuvrable, and capable of carrying heavy loads. Perfect, absolutely perfect.
I first tried the BillBoard SUP on the calm waters of the Cambridgeshire Fens and it was everything that it was promised to be and more. Since that first trip I’ve taken the BillBoardSUP ‘on tour’ around the UK and have tried in a variety of waters and conditions from faster flowing rivers, to exploring coves and secluded beaches of estuaries, to paddling the River Thames to getting out on the open ocean and in every case it performed impeccably.
Who’s the BillBoardSUP suitable for? Absolutely anyone and everyone!
The BillBoard SUP comes packed in it’s own bespoke luggage which is compact enough to fit in the back of most cars and it won’t take up too much space in the home or office. (I keep mine under my desk!). The bag for the actual board is fitted with backpack style carrying straps which makes it infinitely portable; I’ve taken mine in cars, vans, trains and even on the London Underground with ease (although not during rush hour!) and I have no doubt that the SUP would travel well in the hold of a plane. The BillBoard three piece carbon paddle and the double action pump come in their own stylish cases too.
Getting on the water once you’re next to the water is no problem at all. Using the double action pump I can inflate the BillBoard SUP in around eleven or twelve minutes without too much effort and once up, it stays up. I left mine inflated for two weeks to see if there was any loss of pressure and, using a fairly unscientific method, there appeared to be no pressure loss whatsoever.
By attaching it to the rigging on the front deck the ‘board bag’ doubles up as a giant ‘deck-back’ giving plenty of space for storage, whether that be just a flask and soggy sandwiches or a tent and gear for a multi-day adventure.
The load carrying capability of the BillBoard SUP is phenomenal, and without noticeably losing too much manoeuvrability. In fact the load carrying capacity is so great that this board enabled friend and fellow adventurer Mark Hines to paddle it, loaded with gear, from London across the English Channel in to the river systems of Europe and on to the River Danube where he paddled all the way through to the Black Sea in Romania. Awesome.
On the water the board is great. Despite being an inflatable SUP, the BillBoardSUP handles like a rigid board; it’s fast with good tracking and easy to steer. The board itself is light to paddle, but the well designed and very light three-piece carbon BillBoard paddle certainly helps to make the miles pass.
The BillBoard SUP is so stable that I’ve been confident enough even to turn up to a meeting by paddleboard with my laptop strapped to the deck. My future plans include using the BillBoard as a platform for snorkelling, to head out along the coast fly fishing for bass (or anything that happens to take the lure!) and use it as an unobtrusive floating platform to photograph birds and wildlife
One common problem with inflatable kayaks, canoes and SUPs is that when your trip is over, getting them back in to their bags for transport can be an absolute pain, but not so with the BillBoard SUP. I usually release the inflation valve at the back of the board and then set about dismantling and packing the paddle, removing the carbon fin and packing up the rest of my gear for a few minutes as the SUP naturally deflates. Then, starting at the front of the board I roll/fold the SUP, wrap the provided straps around it to keep it in place then just drop it effortlessly straight in to its backpack. Simples!
Getting hold of a BillBoard SUP is just as easy as blowing it up. On the BillBoardSUP website you can find out loads more information, select your kit, place your order, wait a couple of days for delivery and then get out on the water!