December 23, 2012
by Christopher Parker (@wheresbossman)

The Euro Board? Sneak Peek At Mistral’s New Flat Water Racer

Today we get a sneak peek at the new Mistral SUP race boards coming out of Europe. Thanks to a post on the always-on-it, we can see that the new shapes are geared entirely towards flat-water racing and borrow several design cues from kayaking as well as other SUP manufacturers (mainly the Starboard “dug out” models).

No word on the widths, but apparently the 12’6″ will come in at just 8.5kg, which would peg it around the same level as Naish’s ultra-thin, ultra-light Javelin LE12’6″. Mistral will also have a 14′ board available.

Founded in Switzerland, Mistral has been making windsurfing boards since the mid-seventies and was one of the first Euro brands to take Stand Up Paddling seriously. The company has been pushing things on the racing side of SUP the past few years, getting several innovations (such as inflatable race boards) to the market ahead of many bigger and better-known international brands.

The sport of SUP racing began in the ocean and found fame in the surf, but it’s on the flat-water bays, lakes, canals and rivers of middle America and Europe where I believe the sport is really going to grow. I’d like to hope that challenging races like the Battle of the Paddle and Molokai will always be seen as the pinnacle of SUP racing, however I also believe that flat water racing will be far more prominent than most coastal paddlers currently realise.

One place where flat-water racing is growing like crazy is Europe. The continent has already hosted several elite, international-level SUP races and 2013 looks set to be even bigger. When there’s no wind, no swells and no waves, then more and more we’re going to see specialised, flat-water-specific race boards dominate the major placings.

I’ve been waiting for a brand to step up and market the “Euro Board” for a while now. It’s not that we’ve never seen flat-water race boards, but no manufacturer has really marketed a board solely for flat-water, European-style SUP races. Will Mistral fill this hole? No idea… we’re yet to see how these new designs actually perform; for all we know they could be just another tippy race board. But we do know that they’re made in Europe and are purely flat-water designs, so they’re probably a lot closer to being the “Euro Board” than most other shapes out there.

Either way, whether it’s Mistral or one of the big international manufacturers that finally perfects it, I think it’s inevitable that we’ll see several Euro-specific, flat-water-only SUP board designs hitting retail stores in the next few years.

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