O’SHEA WIND+SUP 2017 REVIEW
This is the second year the Wind+SUP has been in the O’Shea line-up, refined for the new season with a pattern on its diamond-grooved and buffed deckpad, and an extra carry handle in the rear of the board. It is produced in the brand’s Premium Heavy Duty (HD) construction, using Korean ‘Mirasol’ drop-stitch (“considered the Rolls Royce of iSUP fabric”), before being wrapped twice in 1000D PVC layers. Dressed in a UV-resistant yellow outer layer, for safety and visibility, HD is the slightly heavier construction option that O’Shea offers, yet ensures a super durable board, designed to withstand even the harshest abuse such as use within windsurfing schools. It also considers stiffness in all directions, ensuring minimal twist through the board and enabling it to be used at lower pressures whilst still retaining its shape. CAD designed with input from the main man behind the brand – Farrel O’Shea – who benefits from “over 35 years of personal hydrodynamic experience”, the Wind+SUP comes complete with two 10” US boxes and two PE fins, the central fin being the larger of the two. Fittings are to a high standard as before, with heavy duty D-rings used for the towing eye on the nose and leash fixture on the tail. Whilst available to purchase on its own, O’Shea are keen to point out that they also have the perfect soft sail rig packages to match the board, from the ‘Grom’ in sizes 2.0m or 3.0m, or the ‘Wind’ rig in 4.5m or 5.5m. There is also a fully battened ‘Team’ rig alternative in 2.5m to 4.5m. And finally, it has got to be mentioned that the success of the Wind+SUP last year has led to the birth of a smaller model in the O’Shea range – the WIND 9’0” – a 160L inflatable with an ‘iRail’ for quick water release, and footstrap fittings for use in planing conditions.
“Primarily designed with windsurfing in mind with a bonus all-round iSUP appeal. Incorporates a central stabilizing fin and complete rig package, all packing down to bite-size pieces. A true family favourite for the aspiring waterman hidden in all of us.”
On the water the Wind+SUP remains an outstanding windsurfing platform. Wide in the tail, its rails remain nigh on parallel beyond the deck-plate fixing and onto its low sitting shoulders, giving the board a wonderful planted posture in the water. A great tutor for the beginner, it tracks in a straight line effortlessly, the position of its deck-plate, centre-fin and rear-fin providing just the right balance between directional stability and steering response. As the wind increases, the O’Shea responds just as you’d expect a conventional hardboard to, accelerating smoothly and enabling the rider to move back confidently on the board, to harness and distribute the sail’s power. It charges upwind as well, responding best by trimming the board flat and letting the fins do the work. Overall, an impressive windsurfing performance, with little noticeable energy lost due to the board flexing or bending. Used as a paddleboard, the O’Shea is as stable as they come for comfort and cruising. Yes, it may lose out to some here in the glide, due to weighing more than other iSUPs in this group; yet it is a perfectly palatable compromise for the benefits of strength and structure felt whilst windsurfing.
An inflatable windsurfing board that continues to impress, the Wind+SUP has become more refined visually and makes a fantastically dependable water-born plaything for both schools and families.
Other boards in this test: