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The Pros and Cons of Inflatable Wingboards


Marco Boone

Subject Our experiences


With the strong growth of wing foiling, more and more brands are coming up with an inflatable wing foil board. In the SUP world, inflatable boards are already commonplace, also with wing foiling we see more and more inflatable wingboards on the water. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the pros and cons of inflatable wingboards.

Advantages of Inflatable Wing Foil Boards

The main advantages of inflatable wingboards is that they are easy to take with you in your car or on a trip and that you can also easily store the package. In addition, inflatable boards have a relatively high buoyancy compared to the hard boards. And last but not least, inflatable boards are less fragile and don’t get damaged as easily.

Disadvantages of Inflatable Wing Foil Boards

Less stable

In our opinion, the biggest disadvantage of inflatable wing foil boards is their stability. Despite the high buoyancy, these boards feel less stable. Even if you inflate the board hard enough, the contact of your feet with the board is less direct. Every movement through your feet is slightly ‘dampened’ and transmitted to the board with a delay. That makes it just a bit more challenging to (learn to) wing foil in a stable way. Because the foil (often on a large plate) is also attached to the flexible material, this also provides extra instability.

Doesn’t glide as well

The second important disadvantage is the ‘sticking’ of the board to the water. Due to the type of material and the flex that is in the inflatable board, an inflatable wing foil board tends to ‘stick’ to the water. As a result, the board slides less easily into plane than the hard board version. This makes it just a bit more difficult to get on the foil with an inflatable board. Especially when there is not a lot of wind.

Starboard Air Foil, best compromise

The best way to wing foil remains a hard board. If you still want an inflatable wingboard for practical reasons, Starboard has come up with a very nice compromise with the Air Foil . Through a smart construction, the disadvantages mentioned above are largely tackled. What Starboard has done with the Air foil are the following 2 ingenious things:

1. Direct connection foil and pitch by hard plate

At the top of the board, where you are standing, Starboard has incorporated a hard plate of about 80 centimeters long. The foil is also mounted on the underside of this plate. The foil goes through the board, as it were. During wing foiling, you stand on the part where the hard plate is in the board. This provides the most direct connection between the foil and your feet. So you have direct contact with the foil, which can no longer flex and in addition, every movement is immediately transmitted 1:1 to the board by the hard plate.

The plate is fixed in the board, but is small enough to store the board in a handy way and transport it in a car. The plate makes the board about 1.5 kg heavier. With wing foiling, this does not result in any noticeable disadvantages, as the extra weight is on the back of the board.

Starboard Air foil drawing foil connection
Starboard Airfoil foil connection
Starboard Airfoil inflatable action-2

2. Better planing properties due to hard sharp edge around board

Starboard has gained a lot of experience with inflatable windsurfboards over the past 10 years. An important innovation from the inflatable windsurfboards has now also been applied to the inflatable wingfoil board. By mounting a sharp edge around the back half of the board, the board gets much better sliding and planing properties. It noticeably makes the board glide easier and makes enough speed to get on the foil. This is quite close to the sliding characteristics of a hard board.

In case of any nose drops (where the nose hits the water first) you will still notice that the board sticks a bit more than a hard board. As a result, you brake faster than with a hard board. If you want to know more about the Starboard Air foil, read our review about this inflatable board.

Starboard Airfoil sharp edge
Starboard Airfoil inflatable foil attachment
Starboard Airfoil inflatable bottom

With the Starboard Foil Air, the brand is able to eliminate the main disadvantages of the inflatable boards to a large extent. However, our preference is still for a hard board. That feels even more direct and the sliding properties of a hard board are also better. If you still want an inflatable wingboard for practical reasons, the Starboard Foil Air is by far the best alternative.

Starboard Foil Air Complete Package

The Starboard Air Foil is available in different sizes and is very complete. For an amount of € 999,- you get the following;

Want to test Starboard Foil Air?

We also use the Starboard Foil Air ourselves for our wing foil lessons. Would you like to test the Starboard Foil Air for yourself? That’s possible! We are happy to schedule a test meeting with you to let you experience the characteristics of this board for yourself.