Almost every wingboard brand has had one or more inflatable boards in its range for many years. Only now is Starboard coming up with the Air Foil. The board really has to ‘bring’ something special to get a foothold. We have extensively tested the middle version with 146 liters. Read our review about the Starboard Air Foil inflatable whether this latecomer indeed offers something extra.
- Small: Length 5’8″ / 172,7 cm | Width 28″ / 71.1 cm Volume 122 liters | Weight 8.9 kg | Price € 1.299,-
- Medium: Length 6’5″ / 195.6 cm | Width 29.5″ / 74.9 cm | Volume 146 litres | Weight 9.7kg | Price € 1.329,-
- Large: Length 7’0″ / 213.4 cm | Width 31″ / 78.7 cm | Volume 169 litres | Weight 10.2 kg | Price € 1.329,-
To put it bluntly, to date we are not a big fan of inflatable boards. We understand the convenience of the inflatable boards, but the performance is often a lot less. Most boards feel very unstable and nervous. In addition, many inflatable wingboards tend to stick to the water. This makes it difficult to get up to speed and with a touch down the board brakes completely. That makes wingfoiling a lot more challenging in our experience. Perhaps the late introduction of Starboard was very conscious to ensure that they could come up with a solution to the 2 problems mentioned above. In any case, Starboard has won an innovation award with this board.
Solution 1: Starboard Air Foil with partly hard deck
The Starboard Air Foil inflatable has a hard plate on top of the deck that covers about 50 to 60% of the surface. Of course, the plate is equipped with soft pads for grip and comfort. The wingfoil is mounted on the underside of this plate.
So the foil goes through the board. So you are on a hard plate where the wingfoil is mounted. This gives the most contact with the foil and ensures optimal stability. In the hard deck there are various plugs for the supplied foot straps. As with the regular wingfoilboards, the wingfoil can also be moved forwards and backwards for optimal trim of the wingfoil set.
The hole in the bottom through which the foil passes is sealed with a large supplied plug to keep the resistance with the water during planting as small as possible.
Solution 2: Starboard Air Foil with ‘Edge Release’
A sharp plastic edge around the rear part of the board makes it easier for the board to plan. Starboard already uses this technique in its inflatable windsurfboards and has now also applied this technique in the bottom shape of the Starboard Air Foil. The bottom shape therefore looks much more like the bottom shape of a hard board.
In addition to better planing the board, this should also ensure that the sticking of the inflatable board is less.
Starboard Air Foil feels much more like a hard board
We go to the water to experience for ourselves what the effect of these 2 innovations is. We mount a Starboard S-type 1500 wingfoil with a mast of 82 cm. In terms of drive, we use an Airush Freewing 4.0m2. After we have stepped up and floated away standing in the lee, we immediately notice that we are on something ‘hard’. Where most inflatable boards are a bit wobbly, because the foil is less rigidly attached to the board and you always sink a little bit into the deck with your feet, we are almost as stable as on a hard board. We do feel some flex in the longitudinal direction of the board as we go over the waves, but the bobbing away feels very good.
After we have floated out of the lee and start pumping at the first gust of wind, we notice that the board accelerates very easily. The board not only glides nicely through the water, but also our pumping movements are transmitted 1:1 to the wingfoil by the hard plate we stand on. This makes it very easy for us to get on the foil. Despite the fact that the surface of the front wing we use is not particularly large.
Also in the air, the inflatable board feels solid and we have a lot of feeling with the wingfoil. Once used to the board, the board feels so responsive that we can also carve and ride golf. Very nice! We don’t have the direct feel of a compact hard board, but we’re pleasantly surprised how well this goes and responsive the Starboard Air Foil feels.
As soon as we have a touch down, we still feel that the board sticks more than a hard board, which slows down the board considerably. It is less than on most inflatables, but clearly more than on a hard board (with good shape).
Preferably a longer mast under the Starboard Air Foil
A disadvantage of the fact that the wingfoil is attached to the deck of the board is that the space between the bottom and wings decreases by about 12 cm. No problem on flat water, but if you start wingfoiling with a little more waves, you will soon notice that you are missing a bit of length. We used an 82 cm mast and thought it was too short. Especially if you want to go wingfoiling, carving or golf riding on higher waves. Our advice is to purchase a longer wingfoil mast with this board or to purchase a wingfoil with a longer mast as standard.
Starboard Air Foil compact to carry
The reason why people consider an inflatable board is the ease with which you can transport the board. The larger sizes of the Starboard Air Foil are packed in a rectangular storage bag with a size of 110 cm x 80 x18 cm. This storage bag fits a complete wingfoil equipment including the foil, pump and wing. Very neat.
Inflating the wing is easy with the included high pressure pump. Mounting and disassembling the wingfoil on the board takes some getting used to. The hole where the wingfoil is large enough to mount the wingfoil. You only insert the bolts from the deck through the wingfoil and attach the supplied T-nuts to the side of the wingfoil.
Finally, we can easily fill the large hole in the bottom with the included Styrofoam plug. This plug is firmly fixed and cannot slide.
Starboard Air Foil, best of both worlds
We are pleasantly surprised by the board of Starboard. The innovations incorporated into the board ensure that the Starboard Air Foil has become a good wingfoilboard, leaving the convenience aspects of an inflatable board intact. Especially if you combine this board with a foil with a long mast, you will have a lot of fun with this boad. Is the board as good as a hard board? No, it doesn’t, but the Starboard Air Foil is the closest of all inflatable boards.
The suggested retail price for the smallest version is quite hefty at € 1,299. However, the board is delivered complete above average. ‘In the box’ is the following;
- Starboard Air Foil board
- Board storage bag
- 3 foot straps including bolts
- High pressure pump
- Board leash
- Wingfoil mounting material
- Repair kit
Want to try Starboard Air Foil for yourself?
Do you want to try the Starboard Air Foil yourself first? We have the Starboard Air Foil 6’5″ available in our test centre. Feel free to send us an email with your test request or other question and we will be happy to help you.