John Hibbard On Red Paddle Co’s MSL Fusion Technology
Single Layer? Double Layer? None of the above, here comes the MSL Fusion technology! Red Paddle Co., the global SUP brand specialised in inflatable boards, has introduced and rolled its new Monocoque Structural Laminate technology to its entire 2016 range. What does it mean exactly? Well, John Hibbard, Co-Founder of the company, tells us all about it in an exclusive video for TotalSUP followed by an interview.
Exclusive: John Hibbard introduces Red Paddle Co’s new MSL technology
Hi John, first of all, thank you for giving TotalSUP an exclusivity over this brand new video! Can you tell us how Red Paddle Co was born and has managed to become a leading brand on the inflatable segment?
We started Red Paddle Co back in 2008 as a germ of an idea. Paddle boarding was just getting going in the mainstream. The biggest stumbling block we were seeing around the world was the size and bulk of hard boards. It was a real barrier to entry. Inflatable boards were available but almost all were being sold as just a vacation product to use when you didn’t have access to a hard board. This meant they were mostly low quality and their performance was not far removed from a pool toy. We saw an opportunity to challenge this status quo and build boards with real performance.
We based our headquarters in a beautiful part of the English countryside on the South West coast. We are surrounded by water on 3 sides and can choose from river paddling, coastal cruising or surfing. This diverse paddling environment helps us deliver on our mission.
We now sell boards in over 60 countries around the world, through a brilliant team of distributors who are as passionate about the sport, the brand and the technology as we are. It’s been an amazing journey so far and we don’t plan on slowing up any time soon.
How did Red Paddle Co come up with the idea of the MSL Fusion technology?
From the beginning we’ve had a two-fold mantra: we believe riding an inflatable board shouldn’t be a compromise.
We make boards that deliver an authentic paddleboarding experience. We had achieved this by using a process known as Double Layering (DL). This means we take the basic drop stitch material (known as single layer) and hand laminate a second layer of reinforced PVC on top of it. Through careful panel shaping and rail/edge taping we were able to create a board that was substantially stiffer than most others without having to resort to making the boards overly thick (a thick board means you tower above the water, which makes it unstable and they are also harder to inflate).
There are though 2 disadvantages to the DL technology. The first is the weight. While the DL boards were not too heavy they were tipping the scales at between 10-14 kgs, which did make them a little hard for smaller people to carry around. The other disadvantage was the the DL process was exposed to human error in terms of the glue application between the layers. This could lead to cosmetic blemishes or structural inconsistency.
So 2 years ago we started working with our raw material supplier to develop a process of fusing the second layer directly on to the drop stitch by machine. It’s taken lots of testing and tweaking to get it right but the result is MSL. A material that has almost no cosmetic blemishes, is not exposed to human error and is up to 2kgs lighter than before.
The best thing about the MSL technology is that it is even slightly stiffer than the DL process. So we have been able to remove all the negative factors Single and Double layer presented and increase the performance and feel of owning an inflatable board. We believe that MSL is the future of inflatable technology and allows us to make the very best inflatable boards available.
Lighter but stiffer… How is that possible?
The DL process is carried out in the board factory. We would stretch out the material and glue it to the board by hand. The MSL process is done at the raw material stage and therefore we use machines to tension and fuse the second layer onto the drop stitch. This machine process increases the skin tension of the material in its deflated state. Then, when you inflate the board the internal pressure further increases the material tension, which increases the stiffness.
What type of riders can most benefit from this new technology ?
Pretty much every type of paddler. We’ve been very careful not to make the boards too light. If a board is too light it handles badly and actually makes it harder to control. The weight of the MSL boards make them easier to transport and carry and give an improved performance on the water. The MSL material is also easier to roll up – further enhancing the experience.
What other innovations have you applied to your 2016 range?
Our focus is to make SUP an accessible sport for all. We are committed to making boards that offer the best performance and the best experience. All our innovations are designed to meet this goal. We have our patented RSS stiffing system and our legendary Titan Pump that just making using a Red Board that much better.
Thank you John for taking the time to reply to our questions.