Earlier this month I packed up my rig and headed for Florida. Surf Expo was being held in Orlando ahead of Hurricane Irma, and it felt a little funny to be driving against the early evacuation exodus out of south Florida. Surf Expo is one of the longest and largest running water-sports trade shows. The paddling scene has been slowly growing within its walls. So, I headed down to check it out. First off, I like Orlando. I'm definitely a rustic kind of fella, but I like to get my tropical city swag on occasionally, and Florida gives me that chance.
After getting reacclimatized I rolled over the the Demo site to test out some new paddle craft. The main show was scheduled to run for three days, but had to be cut short to one day after the Demo. It was a hectic time and I feel for the crew trying to navigate the Hurricane madness. But in that time I did get to lay eyes on some cool products, and here is what I came across.
The BIC Sup 12' Cross Board - This cool new full deck pad SUP is ready for fishing adventure. "The new 12’ Cross is a larger version of our award-winning 10’ and 11’ Cross flat-water hybrid shapes. Featuring the same user-friendly stability and versatility as its smaller siblings, the 12’ Cross offers higher capacity (up to 350lbs), incredible stability and ease of paddling thanks to the unique keeled nose featured on all Cross models. Available in a standard version with 12 attachment points as well as a Fishing version which adds a full-length deck pad and three integrated tracks optimally placed for fishing accessories."
The New Hobie Pro Angler Fishing Kayak has fresh logo font, an improved ARC crank arms adjustment and new mounting boards that come standard. The ultimate kayak fishing rig just got an upgrade.
"Hobie’s original Pro Angler packs extreme fishing utility, with scads of (that’s six) horizontal rod lockers, enough tackle compartments to empty a store, and an elevated Vantage ST seat that’s as much easy chair as captain’s perch.
There’s a non-skid deck for standing—a huge advantage for sight fishing—and veritable acres of H-Rail for mounting rod holders and electronics. All this on a spacious 14-foot platform, with no need for a gas tank. Hobie’s unique MirageDrive with Glide Technology provides efficient, quiet propulsion."
The Yakima Easyrider Trailer is a sharp looking transport for kayaks. "Haul it all with the new EasyRider High utility trailer – perfect for hauling fishing kayaks, paddleboards, bikes, and cargo. Carry up to 500 pounds of gear with two levels of storage and our widest heavy-duty bars. Shock absorbers provide a plush ride for your gear. The smart handle lets you use it as a handcart, and the aluminum construction is strong and light. The trailer is highway-friendly for long trips, and also great for shorter adventures. Storage is easy- just fold in the tongue and roll it out of the way. Accessories, including the SpareTire, TentKit and LongTongue, are also available."
The crew at YakAttack was there with a pile of new stuff, including Leverage Landing nets with a new super rubbery net.
The Bonafide Kayaks crew was there drawing attention for their new SS127. Y'all know the deal, this is the newest entry into the kayak fishing market and it's garnered much praise.
Hobie also showed their new Eclipse Sup Pedal boards in the Dura Series. Designed for Commercial use.
Now, for those items outside of our immediate market that caught my eye.
Shout out to Rovr wheeled cooler with the pop up bin. This looked like the ultimate camping and beach cooler set up. I was digging it.
Shout out to the full face snorkel mask that makes you look like the old cartoon The Snorks. My little girls would love these total snorkel masks.
I also spied these steam punk looking bikes. I'm sure the boards were what I was supposed to focus on, but it was the bikes that got my attention.
The folks from HippyTree were there. They have nice apparel, but it was the booth that really wowed me. That is a big teepee.
The iShade folks had an impressive inflatable set up called the Bali Island that caught my attention. Looked like a cool way to enjoy some time on the water, and have a recreational relaxation zone.
And finally shout out to the folks from MyPakage who hooked me up with a couple pairs of their new drawers. Their tagline is the World's Greatest Underwear for Men. "Our patented KeyHole Comfort Technology™ creates the best and most comfortable underwear experience for men."
They are comfortable.
Surf Expo is a hip scene that brings together a large community of watersports vendors, retailers, pros, and industry professionals. The show was greatly impacted by the approach of Hurricane Irma so I didn't get an accurate sense of the show, but from what I saw, there is promise in the ability of paddlesports to reach other, similar markets. And maybe some of the hip, youth centric culture of surf and wake could inspire and foster continued forward progress in paddlesports as we move into the future.