So I went back to the dock for the second round of pumping. After a few minutes of fiddling with the gauge, it finally registered that the board was pumped to only 10 psi, way too low. When it hit 15 psi, I paddled back out, and the difference was night and day: The wobble was gone and the board felt solid underfoot. In flat water, tracking was impressive, and I tried some fancy draw strokes, which felt light and natural, especially with the long adjustable carbon paddle. When I took the SUP again that afternoon in the windy chop, it was more difficult to manage, especially when the big boats and their passing wakes were rolling. But the board is fully inflated this time, making it strong enough to stay upright.
By the end of the weekend, I had rounded the island half a mile into the lake, but I still felt hesitant to paddle further, because on a lake the size of Vermilion, the wind and waves picked up quickly. And while the board felt sturdy, I wasn’t confident it would do well in thick water.
When I got back to our shallow dock area, I tried it out as a floating yoga studio and managed to kill some dogs below. Real yoginis might be comfortable practicing tree pose on a board, but it seemed too small and narrow for me to try.
For context, I asked some friends who own their own SUPs to spend some quality time on them at Lake Vermilion over the next few weekends. One reported that it was less stable than his own 12-foot solid board. The other two, however, felt it was similar, in terms of tracking and stability, to their own longer inflatable SUPs. Everyone gave it high marks for its solid design.
When building an ultralight inflatable SUP, however, Kokopelli gave me a unique dilemma: While it’s beautifully built and easy to transport and store, does it give me enough fun (and stability) on the water to pass the Marie Kondo test?