I have recently been contacted by a number of people wanting to try the sport of paddle boarding. Most people could either not afford the top of the range board or just wanted something more reasonably priced to start with before upgrading to a more premium board in the future.
I have never been shy regarding my opinions on budget priced boards, as I have tested quite a few through most manufacturers. I have gained valuable knowledge of what is good value for money and due to this believe a budget starting at £500 is a good platform to purchase any quality entry level board.
I have always been open minded and readily available to experience further budget boards to change my opinion. I have been waiting to find a budget board that could compete with boards in a higher price bracket in both quality and longevity.
I love the idea of supporting those wanting to experience the sport with a tighter budget, however, I will only sell boards that I believe in and know are perfect for both the paddlers budget and needs.
Up to now I have never been on a board below that magical £500 mark that has ever lived up to my expectation, of course peoples budget and personal circumstances dictate and at the end of the day if a board gets you on the water its a big thumbs up for the sport. But can you really have both? A mix of great quality and performance at an amazing price?
I struggling to find reviews on the Sandbanks Sup Style paddle boards other than the video reviewed by Sup Boarders. Due to this I contacted Sandbanks direct and spoke with Andy, he arranged for a board to be delivered so I could put it through its paces. I was very keen to sample the board after reading the glowing review as mentioned earlier.
Lets get straight into it, the board!
The first thoughts were very positive, heat bonded seams and over all the graphics looked a lot better in person than on some of the pictures I had see online. Yes the design is simple but effective and the colours were solid with the outline clear and crisp.
The large diamond cut deck pad ran two thirds of the board with a kicker to the back of the pad, this would give a great control for when you get in to the step back pivot turns. The standard bungee straps to the front for any dry bags or water bottles are all present and correct with a nice oversized D ring to the back of the board as the leash attachment. So far so good!
The underside of the board had no graphics which is not an issue for me and a great way to keep costs down, the only other feature of note on the underside is the thruster fin set up with the US style box. The two outer fins are moulded plastic with a 9” centre fin, the movement in the US style box aids tracking if moved to the back of the box or manoeuvrability if slid to the front.
So far it was nice to see that the smaller touches had not been overlooked even though the lower price margin. The outer fin protectors and the stitched carry handle all reminiscent of more expensive boards.
Two of the things that tend to dictate board cost is weight and rigidity, the lower the cost of the board the heavier and floppier it will tend to be. With the weight of this board I was initially slightly worried about the technology inside the board keeping it stiff as it comes in at a very respectable 9 kg, other premium boards can be up to 2.5 kg heavier than this. With the deflection test as outlined on the Supboarders review is only two millimetres more than a board at the top of the premium board market, which speaks volumes as to the quality of this board.
The recommended pressure of this board is 15-18PSI, its really important when looking at boards that you concentrate on the tested pressure and for this board it is tested up to 29 PSI under controlled conditions. Again, this shows the quality of the boards construction.
Next thing out of the box was the pump, the pump I was pleasantly surprised to see was from one of the best suppliers of SUP pumps “Bravo”. The Pump its self is double action which means with a turn of a small lever at the top of the pump air can be sent direct to the board on both upward and downward strokes. When it starts to get too difficult to pump turn the lever to single action mode which will help get the board to the desired pressure more easily.
The package also comes with a coiled leash which is really sturdy in its construction and is as good as any leash that I regularly use, the only notable difference was a slightly larger diameter coil.
The bag that came with the package was a large (non wheeled) bag which had a chunky zip giving a large opening access to the inside. What I really liked about the bag were the straps on each side that allowed the strong rip stop material to be tightened around the board keeping everything neat and tidy. There is also a large pocket on the front of the bag for the fin, pump, repair kit and leash to be stored which is a nice feature. The rear straps are padded and comfortable but as you can imagine not as luxurious as a bag that comes with a board £300 more expensive that this, this said its comfortable and covers exactly what you need from a carry bag.
The shape of the board was great to see a taper to the front which would allow the board to cut smoothly through the water and making the whole paddling experience easier. The rocker was also raised which would help especially in any amount of chop. The tail end of the board was nice and wide which would help with all round stability.
The Aluminium paddle
I am not a massive fan of aluminium paddles and I am sure you will find that once you have used a carbon paddle for any length of time its very hard to get back to grips with something a lot heavier and at times cumbersome. This paddle was considerably lighter than most alloys I had experienced before and the clamps and handle where of a high standard and comfortable to use. There was no logo on the front of the blade which can sometimes be a hinderance for newer paddlers and cause confusion on which is the right way to hold the paddle.
Getting out on this board was going to be the real test and one I was looking forward to experiencing.
Paddling on the open water was effortless due to the front shape of the board and having the fin to the rear of the box kept me as straight as I needed to be. It was a silky smooth glide through the water for a board of 32” in width. The slightly wider tail section made it super stable which would be ideal for a starter or intermediate paddler and something for all the family to get on and feel comfortable.
To Sum up the Sandbanks Ultimate SP really did exceed my expectations, the quality of the seams, deck pad, bungee straps and carry handle were of a superior standard to any other boards in this price range. It was good to see the graphics also looked a lot more striking in the flesh than pictures I had seen online. The weight and rigidity of this board was the real surprise with the light weight and the very low flex of the board. This puts it firmly in a price bracket that is well over its current price point. All of the accessories are great items and totally fit for purpose with no complaints from me over the package whatsoever. The board tracked well and had a serious amount of glide for the size of it, very responsive on the turn when I got in to the narrow backwaters of my local river.
Would I recommend this board?
The very simple answer is YES, without question or hesitation. The price of this board has no reflection on the quality, its light, rigid and glides like a dream. To top it all off Sandbanks give 2 years warranty on each board you buy.
So the whole package will come with peace of mind and during the 5 years that Sandbanks has been trading, they have never received a warranty claim on their boards for any seam failures. If your looking for a board in or around this price range then this is the very best of the bunch by a country mile.