Well this is definitely one of the more unusual news items in the world of SUP racing. It’s also one of the most awesome: Red Paddle Co, the pioneer of inflatable stand up paddle board design, has just released a four-person, 22ft-long race board called the Red Dragon. What’s more, they’re also launching a global team racing league called the “Dragon World Series” that sounds like ridiculously good fun.
Firstly the board. This monster is 22 feet long, 34 inches wide and 8 inches thick, while it uses Red Paddle Co’s patented MSL inflatable paddle board technology (which creates a board that’s both stiff and lightweight).
As the photos (and the promo clip below) highlight, this thing can easily float a quartet of full sized paddlers; given the sheer paddle power of eight arms, plus the waterline length of a 22 foot board, this should be one hell of a fast board.
But while the board itself is pretty damn awesome, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen a four-person race board (though it is the first inflatable vesrion, as well as the first production model), so what really sets the Red Dragon apart is the teams racing concept.
The Dragon World Series (no connection to the Stand Up World Series), is a soon-to-be-launched global racing league that’ll feature a unique teams format, where four-man, four-woman or mixed squads will compete on the Dragon boards for glory, prizes and bragging rights.
There will be dozens of events around the world, culminating in a Red Dragon World Championship. As Red Paddle Co. founder John Hibbard exclaims in the official press release:
“We’re incredibly excited about the Red Dragon World Series – a dedicated, global team race series. Events will take place across the globe over the next 12 months and we’ll soon be announcing the location of the World Championships – so watch this space for more information. It’s definitely an event you won’t want to miss!”
So far there are events being planned in 15 different countries, most of which will take place next year. Most of the dates are still to be confirmed, however the Red crew told me the format will definitely be on show at the suitably-named “Dragon Run” surf ski event in Hong Kong on the 12th of November.
(It’s fairly symbolic that Hong Kong will be one of the first outings for the Red Dragon, given the region is the home of dragon boat racing.)
Though you won’t even have to wait that long to see it in the wild: The team from Red will have three Dragon boards on show at the UK SUP Clubs event at Bray Lake this weekend, and they’ve assured me they’ll grab some raw footage of this thing in action. So check back on Sunday to see exactly how it looks.
While I haven’t had a chance to paddle one of these creatures myself, I chatted with Luke Green from the Red Paddle Co team and he gave me a bit of an insight into how much fun it can be.
“All you need is good timing and communication and the board really flies! With good synchronisation the board really surges along like nothing else. Personally I think it’s a great way to enjoy racing as it brings in the camaraderie / team spirit element to it, knowing you are all sharing in the same pain!! Plus the look on people’s faces when you storm past chanting and laughing makes them quickly back track on pre-race comments!!”
And I think that’s the beauty of this board, and the accompanying racing league: it sounds like a lot of FUN. Just when we thought the world of SUP racing was getting a little stale, along comes Red Paddle Co. with an early xmas present.
I can see this board (and the teams racing format) reinvigorating a lot of regional events around the world. I think the Red Dragon strikes a perfect balance between attention-getting “novelty” and genuine paddling skill/athleticism (it’s like a more serious version of those six-a-side “Big SUP” races).
But most of all, it simply looks like a great way to have fun on the water.
Anyway, check back on the weekend for some more footage, but in the meantime you can more info about the board on the official site, with additional details about the Dragon World Series over on the Red blog.