Thanks to the arrival of spring temps and SW winds I pulled the Exocet WindSUP out of winter storage and headed to Onslow Beach, North Carolina yesterday afternoon. On arrival winds were Southwest, slightly side on and lightly blowing 6-10 knots+ with 2' waves. Throughout the session I was riding it with my 7.5 Aerotech Phantom. I just wanted to share some thoughts on this board as it has really expanded my light wind ocean sailing horizons.
I know most of you have done some SUP sailing in light winds. I know you are familiar with how easy they can be to get out over the surf. Also you know how easily they uphaul, tack and jibe thanks to their volume and stability despite rock and roll ocean conditions typical of light winds, waves and swells. Also I am sure you have discovered how much fun a sailing SUP can be considering their ability to easily catch waves in light wind conditions. The WindSUP does all that too but the real significant advantage to it is that is has a daggerboard! Yet, it is not a flat water traditional windsurfing long board but a board designed like a big classic surfing long board.
Once out past the surf being able to put the daggerboard down allows you to cut way up wind just as you would expect from any traditional windsurfing longboard. The huge difference though compared to non-daggerboard sailing SUP's, is that you can you easily and quickly sail upwind even a mile or more in just a few tacks. Then swing the dagger back up and enjoy super fun downwinders zig-zagging and jibing back and forth on deep broad reaches, catching waves, riding swells on the outside etc. If you want, then head back up wind and do it all over again. Also if you inadvertently get too far downwind there is no "Walk of Shame"! You just kick the daggerboard down and sail right back up to where you started.
All in all in my opinion, it just really allows you to maximize SUP ocean and wave sailing in light winds and is a ton of fun in the process. I know that not everyone may be interested in doing much of this kind of sailing or dealing with long boards in and out of the surf. But, like the option that SUP paddling has given us to get out on the water on those low to no wind days; the WindSUP has certainly broadened the ability to maximize light wind ocean sailing. This is especially true considering the added benefit of its inherent daggerboard induced downwinder options. Let’s not forget too that it can be paddled as an SUP, used as a board to teach windsurfing, or even just an easy flat water summer cruising board too.
Is it a perfect board? No. It is heavy and therefore more strenuous to carry, take on and off racks and thus more subject to transport dings. At 11'8" long and 31" wide it takes up a lot of storage space too. The daggerboard is kind of loose and is not a high performing daggerboard set up like you would expect on a Mistral Equipe. However, for just going up wind out in the ocean, who cares? Unless you put foot straps on it, it is difficult to carry and handle when getting in and out of the surf too. Finally, there have been some well publicized cases of Exocet Wind SUP's developing cracks or breaking in the surf. Although I have used mine about 15 times since I got it last summer so far I have not had any issues. Still I worry about breaking it but also realize that any big long board in the surf is subject to damage or snapping in two. So I will keep my fingers crossed, keep sailing it, and if it does crack or break, will repair it and sail it again. It’s just too much fun not too.