AHD SEALION XL 2017 REVIEW
Based on the shape of retro-fish surfboards, the SeaLion Concept is described by its creators as a WindSUP to cater for every eventuality. From SUP surfing in glassy seas to planing in strong winds, the idea is to have one board that can do it all. The XL is the largest of a three-board line-up, stemming from 115 to 150L, with each model produced in the brand’s O3S construction – a one-shot sandwich closed mould process, using a combination of PVC and glass on both the deck and hull to ensure the best strength / weight / price ratio possible. The SeaLion range is then extended to the ‘SeaLion Wings’ – a couple of boards produced in a double carbon sandwich layup that have the option to be used with a hydrofoil wing. And then there’s the SummerBoard, which is the SeaLion in this XL size, targeted squarely at surf schools. Again produced using the O3S system, it has a full EVA pad covering the whole deck and plenty of reinforcement to withstand abuse. Both the SummerBoard and this XL are said to be ideal for either “larger riders or for those who are looking for more easiness and accessibility when paddling or sailing.” Most crucially, it also has the ability to fit a central fin thanks to a Powerbox located in the centre of the board – something that isn’t present in its smaller siblings. Wide and thick throughout its length for improved stability, it would be interesting to see how it faired on both flat water and in the waves.
“The SeaLion concept is a unique WindSup concept. With outstanding performance when light wind windsurfing and freeriding or when stand up paddle surfing, the SeaLion will have you multiplying sessions in all conditions – waves, flat water, strong or absent winds; you just need one board to experience it all.”
The shortest in the group here by some margin, the SeaLion is nevertheless very directionally stable in both paddle and windsurf mode. It is understandably a little more wobbly at rest than the others, given its width and volume increments, and is not really suited for adult beginners for either sport. That said, with the blank replaced by a fin in the central Powerbox, the SeaLion XL does make an excellent windsurfing platform for the lighter rider and child, of 50kg or below. It tracks easily, points upwind well and actually gets the progressing rider into good habits from the off. (Dare we say it, it would also provide the opportunity for the experienced rider to practice in light winds and iron out any ingrained bad habits!) For those looking for a platform upon which to enjoy a bit of float and ride, the blank can be put back in place, confident that the XL can surge beautifully upwind to the line-up. With its parallel rails and well distributed volume it grips superbly along the length of its rail, helping to compliment the fins that are placed right out on the rail. Unfortunately, under the constraints of deadlines, we didn’t get a chance to fully put the SeaLion through its paces on a proper wave face, but in the few small waves we did manage to catch, we instantly got the sense that it could be a lot of fun. Smooth and progressive carving instead of sharp and snappy, it has a flowing style and had us wishing for the sight of more sets on the horizon. Whilst not for flat water planing (it ploughs rather more than releasing), and built for durability instead of lightweight response, it was a real winner amongst the team for versatility amongst a family.
An eye-catching design, the SeaLion XL has fantastic appeal for making the most of mellow wave conditions either with a paddle or sail. It also doubles up as a genuinely excellent tutor for the junior rider, giving you all the ammo you need to justify it to the other half!
Other boards in this test: