You have been enjoying paddleboarding for some months or years now. And, you have learned the ropes of balancing, changing direction, and paddling for hours on end. So what is next? Have you thought of challenging yourself a bit more by taking up SUP racing?
The beauty of paddleboard racing is you can do it irrespective of your skill level. We advise you to choose a touring inflatable SUP if you are still a semi-beginner. This is because a touring paddleboard offers the best of both worlds – racing and regular paddleboard activities.
If you are more on the advanced side or serious about going pro with sup racing, you need to invest in an excellent racing inflatable stand-up board. A dedicated racing board offers more speed and will give you a competitive edge in the racing world.
If racing sounds like something you would like to explore, join us as we review the 8 best inflatable race SUP boards in 2021. The review will include touring boards that can double as racing boards and purely race boards for people who want to go pro. We will also add a few racing basics and what you need to consider when looking for a race SUP.
SUP Race Basics You Need To Know
As with many other competitive sports, SUP racing has different categories.
- If you are a beginner racer, it is best to start with the least competitive courses. For example the 3-mile or 5K races. This will boost your confidence and give you an idea of what to expect in more advanced levels. Participants use under 12-foot 2-inches long stand-up paddleboards to race.
- Moderately competitive races for both men and women feature stand-up boards that measure between 12.5-feet and 14-feet long.
- There also exists a category for kids that features race paddleboards under 12.5-feet in length.
- The most competitive races feature stand-up paddleboards that are over 14-feet long.
It is also important to note, apart from the grouping based on the paddleboard length, races can also be classified based on the activity of each race. The categories include technical racing, distance racing, sprint racing, and paddle relay.
Technical racing involves participants racing on an m-shaped or figure-eight buoy marked course. This kind of race starts and ends on the beach and has multiple laps in the water. Competitors are required to paddle while standing while putting their speed and steering skills to the test.
Distance racing, as the name suggests, involves competing over courses of various lengths. The races are usually five, ten, 16, or 21-kilometer races, and racers must complete several laps in the water.
Sprint racing is one of the fastest racing events that athletes race in a straight line for 200-meters. Finally, the relay race works pretty much like other relay races but uses the technical racing rules.
Inflatable Race SUP Buying Guide
The best inflatable race sups are built for speed and performance, which you will not get with a regular leisure paddleboard. So, if you have decided to go pro with paddleboarding or are considering doing so, you need to consider the following items as they will give you an upper hand during the race.
Most racing SUPs measure between 12.5 and 14-feet long. You will also come across some that are longer than 14-feet. Why should the board be this long? The general principle is the longer the board, the larger the area it covers while on the water, making you move faster.
Racing paddle boards tend to have narrower widths than other paddleboards. Look for inflatable sups that range between 25 and 29-inches in width. Of course, a narrow width makes the board less stable. If you are an entry-level racer still struggling to get your balance right, look for a paddleboard that is one or two inches wider. It may be slower but at least you can stay on the board throughout the race!
Design of the Paddleboard
Paddleboards come in one of two types: planing hull and displacement hull. Planing hulls have a round and flat nose, while displacement hulls have a pointed nose. You will get the best results in a displacement hull. The V-shaped nose helps to cut the water and adds to the streamlined shape of the paddleboard, enabling it to move faster.
Inflatable race sups should be lightweight for smooth and effortless movement on the water. Heavy boards decrease performance as they add drag which leads to a slower speed.
In addition, avoid paddles made from materials such as aluminum which makes paddling over long distances hard. Instead, pick paddles made from carbon fiber as they are light.
8 Best Inflatable Race SUP Boards in 2021
Now that we know what to factor in, let us look at the best inflatable race SUP boards available in 2021. We will split our list into two to factor in the tour/race paddleboards for entry-level and pro racers.
Entry-Level And Intermediate Race SUP Boards
The Bluefin Sprint SUP measures 14-feet long, 28-inch width, and 6-inch thick, providing excellent speed and performance for beginner touring/racing paddlers. Despite the 28-inch width, the Bluefin Sprint offers ample stability needed by entry-level racers.
The SUP board comes with an extra durable 1000 Denier Exo surface laminate PVC material for durability. It also uses the pro-weave drop stitch technology that ensures the board gives maximum stiffness for outstanding performance similar to that of a solid paddle board. It features a diamond grooved deck that helps you maintain grip. In addition, it offers comfort to your feet when paddling for long distances. It also features heel support to help paddlers effortlessly turn the racing sup board around the buoys while racing.
The fiberglass paddle shaft makes for light paddling, ensuring that you can paddle away for long without getting tired. It comes with an 8-inch center fin that allows the board to glide smoothly on the water.
This board is versatile as you can use it for other leisure activities, making it ideal for users who do not race a lot. It also comes at an affordable price compared to other touring/racing paddleboards. Therefore, giving you value for money.
- The inflatable sup board is excellent for beginner racers.
- It is easy to maneuver and glides smoothly on the water.
- It has a lightweight fiberglass shaft paddle.
- It features heel support for easy turning.
- It is affordable.
- The Bluefin Sprint comes with all accessories needed to start paddleboarding.
- The board is versatile for use as a recreational inflatable stand-up paddleboard.
- The triple-layer PVC material makes the board a bit heavy.
The Tower Xplorer Inflatable Stand-up paddleboard is another touring SUP that can comfortably pass as a racer SUP. It measures 14-feet long, 32-inches wide, and 8-inches thick. Its width and thickness give newbies more than enough stability. Its thickness allows the board to support large-sized racers without compromising on performance.
The 14-foot long Tower Xplorer features a pointed, lifted nose that cuts through the water with ease, giving you more speed and an ultimate glide. In addition, its single fin setup improves speed and helps you control the paddleboard better. Its three-piece fiberglass paddle adds to its performance because of its lightweight qualities.
Unfortunately, unlike other race/tour inflatable SUP boards, the Tower Xplorer only has two accessories in its package: a hand pump and paddle. So, you would need to buy a storage bag and any other accessories separately.
- It is easy to handle.
- The iSUP offers more than enough stability.
- It is lightweight
- It glides through the water well.
- It has a high weight capacity, making it suitable for large-sized racers.
- It does not have a complete package that is ready to use immediately.
The Freein Inflatable Stand-up paddleboard measures 11.5-feet long, 32-inches wide, and 6-inches thick. It is designed for long-distance touring in flat waters but can also act as a race SUP board for intermediate and experienced-level paddlers. Its dimensions also offer the stability needed for a newbie racer just learning the racing ropes.
The Freein Sup V-shaped nose and narrow tail make it excellent to reach top speeds and glide smoothly, giving you an edge in the water. It uses Freein’s specially designed Double-Layer drop stitch construction that results in a rigid board. The inflatable tour/race board weighs 20lbs due to its double-layer construction. This lightweight property means the race paddleboard moves fast with little effort.
It comes with a detachable, 11-inch single-fin that helps the board track straight and helps maintain stability. The board features a crocodile-diamond patterned EVA deck that gives you grip in wet conditions. The package also comes with a fiberglass paddle that makes paddling for long distances convenient because it is not heavy.
The Freein inflatable race sup also comes with a GoPro mount to pace your camera and capture all moments. It also includes an adapter that you can use to connect an electric pump for quick inflation. Like many paddleboards, the Freein has all the necessary accessories required to paddleboard immediately.
- It is fast and glides smoothly in the water.
- It is excellent for all-level paddleboarders.
- The paddleboard and paddle are lightweight.
- The paddleboard is rigid and stable.
- Its dimensions limit it from achieving top speeds.
- It is suitable for flat water use and may not perform as well in choppy water.
The Soopotay inflatable stand up paddle board measures 11-feet 6-inches long, 32-inches wide, and 6-inches thick. It comes in at a lightweight of 21lbs which makes it easy to carry without straining. It has an astounding 370lbs capacity that allows more than one person on board.
Its double-layer, drop stitch construction, and dimensions help give this board its rigidity and balance when fully inflated. For additional stability, this inflatable race SUP features three fins- two permanent ones and one large removable fin. The large fin also helps the paddleboard move straight. This makes it suitable for calm and choppy water.
The paddleboard features a V-shaped rocker that cuts through water with ease allowing you to move fast and effortlessly irrespective of the water conditions. Its for this reason that the Soopotay can be used for paddling long distances and entry-level racing.
This versatile paddleboard does not disappoint if you love to engage in different activities you can also use it for yoga, cruising, and recreational paddling.
It features a kayak seat, so you can quickly convert your iSUP to a kayak. It also includes a 2-in-1 SUP-Kayak paddle, so you do not have to think about buying extra gear. The package also comes complete with a hand pump, waterproof phone case and dry bag, backpack and an ankle cuff leash as well.
- The paddleboard is lightweight.
- Pointed nose allows for fast movement making it suitable for touring and racing.
- It comes as a complete package and ready for use.
- It features a kayak seat and 2-in-1 Kayak-SUP paddle.
- The Soopotay has multiple D-rings for storage and to tether items.
- It is made from durable material.
- It is suitable for lakes, oceans, bays and both calm and choppy water.
- The paddle is made from aluminum which is heavier than carbon fiber.
The Sea Eagle NeedleNose Inflatable Stand-up paddleboard measures 12-feet, 6-inches long, 30-inches wide, and 6-inches thick. Its width and thickness offer stability and make it ideal for semi-beginner to advanced skilled paddlers.
The Sea Eagle NeedleNose paddleboard is a cut above the rest with its patented, rigid, razor-sharp bow. The bow that looks similar to a ship slices through the water, currents, and wind without a hassle. This neat feature leads to less drag and consequently better speeds, excellent tracking, and efficient performance.
It comes with a kicktail pad that helps you pivot the nose to perform kick turns. It also features a paddle holder on the deck to secure your paddle when not in use. Its diamond-patterned deck pad occupies more than half the board, going all the way from the front bungee storage area to the tail. This textured area gives you ample space to move around on the board without falling over.
The deck also has three performance standing positions that guide you based on your performance needs. The first position seats farthest from the nose and at the widest bit of the board. This marker is suitable for beginners as it offers the best stability position of all.
The second and third positions are closer to the nose, with the third one being the closest to the bow. When a paddler stands on either marker, the rigid bow lowers into the water resulting in better speeds and performance. The third marker sits at the narrower width of the board and is suitable for more experienced paddleboarders. You will achieve the fastest speeds and outstanding performance at this point.
Sea Eagle has multiple packages for the NN126. This particular one is the deluxe package that features the NeedleNose race inflatable SUP, a hand pump, three-piece paddle, inflatable seat, four-piece kayak paddle, removable skeg, repair kit, and backpack.
- It has a patented nose that gives it excellent speeds and performance.
- The paddleboard has a large, diamond-textured anti-slip deck.
- It comes with a kick pad to do kick turns.
- The NeedleNose is suitable for most skill levels.
- It is easy to maneuver.
- It offers great rigidity.
- The deluxe package comes with an inflatable seat and kayak paddle in addition to other accessories.
- The inflatable SUP board is heavier than others in a similar category.
- It does not come with an ankle cuff leash.
Professional Race SUP Boards
The Tower iRace inflatable stand-up paddleboard measures 12-feet 6-inches long, 30-inches wide, 6-inches thick. It is specifically made for speed and racing. However, you can also use the iRace for touring over long-distance trips.
This race SUP is a viable alternative to a solid board because of its rigid qualities and performance. Its 6-inch thickness and 30-inch width give the paddleboard stability. It has a sturdy construction that can withstand dings and cracks, so you do not have to worry about a few scrapes on rocks or other surfaces.
As with other pro-race SUPs, the Tower iRace does not have any bungee storage area. So you may need to get creative if you choose to use it as a touring paddleboard.
The complete package features a removable fin that offers additional stability and helps the paddleboard move straight in the water. Unlike the Tower Xplorer, the iRace also comes with a three-piece paddle made from fiberglass. This means you can paddle for greater distances without any strain on your arms. Finally, it has a hand pump with a pressure gauge.
The iRace measures 1-foot by 33-inches when fully deflated and rolled up. It sort of looks like a rolled-up sleeping bag in its deflated state which makes for convenient storage. Unfortunately, the package does not come with a carry bag or backpack. So, you would have to buy this.
- The Tower iRace is built for speed and stability.
- The paddleboard is made from quality material that makes it durable.
- It packs compact when fully deflated.
- The paddleboard and paddle are lightweight.
- The board has a maximum weight capacity of 350lbs.
- Racers have to buy missing accessories.
The NIXY Manhattan G4 inflatable paddleboard measures 12.5-feet long, 28-inches wide, and 6-inches thick. The 28-inch width indicates that the paddleboard is designed for a more advanced skill level. Top speed and performance are its most outstanding qualities.
The paddleboard only weighs 23lbs which is a testament to the advanced construction of the board. Its lightweight allows the board to move faster in the water as it does not experience any drag. Its sharp-pointed nose also cuts the water, enabling it to move efficiently.
The 350lbs maximum weight capacity and availability of an adjustable bungee cord system leave you with room to carry extra gear. Each NIXY Manhattan G4 iSUP features a SUP kick tail for maneuverability during step-back turns. The front side of the board has a large, non-slip EVA deck pad that offers grip during wet conditions and comfort to your feet as it is soft.
It also features D-rings for tethering gear, such as installing a kayak seat. The three grab handles available at the nose, center, and tail of the NIXY Manhattan make the SUP portable. It also features a three-wheeled backpack for additional portability.
The five action mounts allow you to attach a cup holder, fishing rod, or whatever other gear you need. It also features a three-piece carbon fiber hybrid paddle that weighs only 1.54lbs. This lightweight paddle ensures that you do not have to strain during the heat of the race. It can also adjust to a height between 67-inches and 84-inches, depending on your preference.
The package comes complete with all the necessary accessories needed to start racing or paddleboarding.
- It is lightweight.
- It has five action mounts to attach extra gear.
- The NIXY Manhattan G4 SUP moves fast and performs efficiently.
- It comes with a complete package that is ready for use immediately.
- The narrow width may pose stability challenges for inexperienced paddlers.
The AM Aqua Marina inflatable standup paddleboard measures 14-feet long, 27-inches wide, and 6″ inches thick. Its long, and narrow streamlined shape makes for efficient movement in water and during high-speed paddling.
Its construction consists of a double-layer coating reinforced with four longitudinal bands, as well as the use of drop stitch technology for a durable and rigid paddleboard. It also cuts the weight by up to 25%. This is why the board weighs 16.5kg and can move effortlessly without any drag.
Apart from the usual EVA pad for grip , the Aqua Marina race SUP also features a side rail pad for additional balance while racing. Its rail edges are also designed to release water and improve paddling. The deck also has a kick pad to help you quickly change direction and do some wave cuts with ease.
- It is lightweight.
- The board is extremely rigid and made from durable material.
- Its rail edges are designed for efficient paddling and have a pad to provide balance.
- It has a streamlined shape to help you move faster and cut through the water better.
- It comes as a complete package.
- Its 27-inch width may cause instability for less advanced riders.
Race paddleboarding, as with other forms of paddleboarding, is fun and brings out your competitive side. Apart from this, it builds your physical and mental strength. It also makes you more agile. So, whether you are just joining racing as an entry-level racer or a seasoned paddler, know your best inflatable race SUP is out there.
In summary, look for boards with a V-shaped nose, a narrow board that’s ideally in the 12.5-foot to 14-foot range to achieve maximum speed and efficiency.
Did we leave out one of your favorite race iSUPs? Let us know in the comment section below.