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New to the Y27 range is the Air Beluga Pro. With RRD’s presence on the Wingfoil World Tour it was only a matter of time before they applied their experience in creating high performance wing boards to their already successful Air Beluga model. The Air Beluga Pro complements the Air Beluga in the RRD inflatable range and aims to combine ‘hard’ board performance with inflatable board convenience allowing the rider to easily transport or travel with gear without compromising on the on-water experience. The board comes with three sets of foot strap inserts for those that want to ride straps and send airs as well as a multipurpose carry bag that doubles as a travel bag with enough space fit a pump, two wings, a full foil set and a wetsuit in there (folded, the board measures in at 88cm). We were actually blown away at how small the full package was when unpacking the box!
The Air Beluga Pro comes in seven sizes from 60 liters up to 125 liters (we tested the 70 liter / 140cm / 4’7 board) and features an extremely stiff yet light carbon base plate. The base plate is also long enough that you experience the stiffness throughout the board and has a trapezoidal shape which tapers out towards the front of the board, creating a stiffer area under the front foot. The board is pumped up to 18psi with the supplied RRD hand pump and once pumped up feels just as solid as a rigid board. The Beluga Pro was tested with the RRD Spark 900 foil on flat water in knee to shoulder high waves (rider height 175cm / 5’9 and weight 78kg / 172lbs).
The board is quick and easy to pump up using the supplied pump and standard track mounts are built into the baseplate allowing you to attach any foil with a standard base plate using the supplied track nuts and bolts (due to the shallow foil tracks). For this test we also had the RRD QuickLock Plate in use, which meant that once our mast was in the right spot, we could remove and install it with a single screw. The board is light and was easy to carry thanks to the built-in handle in the base plate on the bottom of the board.
On the water, one thing to note is that inflatable boards tend to feel more buoyant than conventional ‘hard’ boards, and when starting the Air Beluga it does feel like you are on a more buoyant board than 70 liters. Nonetheless getting going was not any different to any comparable compact shaped wing board. Despite preconceptions of inflatable boards being ‘sticky’, this wasn’t evident when testing the Beluga Pro due to the nose rocker of the board which allowed the board to plane quite well for how short it is. The board is easy to pump off the water and once off the water, in all honesty it is hard to tell the difference between the Air Beluga Pro and a ‘hard’ board. The EVA deck grip is comfortable and grippy and the foot strap placement relative to the foil boxes is spot on. In waves the board is responsive as you initiate and hold through turns and thanks to the carbon base plate the board pumps extremely well without the ‘sponginess’ that is typically associated with the thought of an inflatable foil board.
The Beluga Pro is an extremely impressive board that rides like a true performance wing board whilst offering the convenience of an inflatable. The 70L board that we tested is a great ‘one-board-quiver’ for those who travel a lot or require a smaller footprint when commuting to the spot. JM