Inflatable windsurfing rig sails on air ... and fits in a backpack
With the introduction of products like a self-inflating electric board and paddleboard-tent, the inflatable stand-up paddleboard (SUP) market has seen its fair share of innovation. Now the inflatable SUP accessories market is getting some serious innovation of its own. Two German companies have teamed up to create an inflatable windsurfing set-up called the Arrows iRig One. This all-in-one board sail packs small and light, inflates quickly and puts the power of weather into your board.
The Arrows iRig One came to fruition through the cooperative efforts of two divisions of German board sports company Boards & More: Northsails and North Kiteboarding. Northsails brought expertise in windsurfing rig design, and North Kiteboarding applied the knowledge of inflatables it gained from developing inflatable kites. The pair created a functional design that it calls the first inflatable windsurfing rig ever made.
Inflatable paddleboards have earned their place in the paddleboard market largely because they're much easier to transport and store than full-sized rigid boards. You can roll up to the water by small car without needing a roof rack or trailer.
The iRig One offers the same benefits for paddleboard windsurfers. It packs down into a backpack and, according to its designers, weighs 70 percent less than traditional solid-frame rigs, coming in around 4 lb (1.8 kg) for the medium size. The fully inflatable rig pumps to life in less than two minutes. The video below shows how you can carry an inflatable board, iRig One and pump in a large pack, inflate the whole kit up in minutes, and get out onto the water.
The lightweight, inflatable design isn't only an advantage on land. Its designers explain that the lighter rig makes actual windsurfing easier, especially for beginners. A heavy solid rig can be difficult to hold in place and can pull an uninitiated rider into the water. The lightweight iRig One, on the other hand, is easier to lift up and handle on the board. It also floats, and the lack of hard parts means the rider won't have to worry about smashing their noggin or other sensitive body parts.
Inflatable stand-up paddleboards come with some compromises in areas like rigidity and on-water performance, and we assume the iRig One has some compromises of its own. We could see it losing some performance and speed when compared to a solid rig, though can't say for sure without testing it.
The iRig One comes in three different sizes designed for different rider heights and has a €379 (approx. US$425) MSRP. The design took home a 2016 ISPO Product of the Year award last month.
The kit is demonstrated in the video below.