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RRD mastered the art of making high performance inflatable gear many years ago with the world of inflatable SUPs, and they have now brought this knowledge to the world of wingfoiling with their new line up of Air Beluga inflatable wing boards. We had the 155 on test which comes in at 90l so a good size for a confident beginner and a solid intermediate size for most sizes of rider.
First up and the practicalities of an inflatable foil board. The Air Beluga doesn’t ‘roll’ but instead folds in two and fits neatly into a rectangular bag around 90cm long. If you don’t have a van to chuck your gear in then this means that you can definitely fit it into the trunk of your car no problem. Compared to a fat wing board, that makes a big difference…
Pumping the Air Beluga up is quicker than a SUP and less of an arm burner, and the end result is a solid, quite ‘squat’ looking board. Construction wise, there is a carbon plate under your front foot to stiffen things up and an extended carbon foil plate under your back foot. There are three lightweight straps provided and there is a stainless steel ring to attach your board leash to. If (like us) you don’t check the front pocket of the foil bag then you will wonder how the f&ck you attach your foil, as the track is super-shallow. Once you have checked the foil bag you will find an Aladdin’s cave of bespoke fittings which will attach ANY foil to the board. Good work RRD. Once your foil is on and it’s time to get going, you’ll realize that there is no hand hole on the base, so you will need to either carry the foil on your shoulder or there is a handle on the deck which you can carry it with, but it’s a bit awkward.
On the water and the Air Beluga is relatively short for its volume with extra width, which makes it a stable platform for getting onto your knees on, and the EVA grip is smooth and not a skin-shredder. We had the 155 out in some light-ish conditions and it was a little stickier to get out of the water while pumping than a solid board would be, but it did get there. In more powered conditions it popped up fine. Once you’re airborne it rides the same as a solid board – it’s as simple as that. It feels stiff and responsive and you can throw it into turns and transitions without it missing a beat. For partial touchdowns it is a little stickier due to the flat base but it’s not a big problem, just something you need to be aware of.
Overall we were impressed with the Air Beluga, the practical benefits are clear – it means that you can fit all of your wing gear into your trunk or your broom cupboard and can also travel more easily. Once you’re up and riding you really wouldn’t know it was an inflatable board and we were genuinely impressed with the stiffness of the set up.