With the Guruu Union 320 on my back, I set off to conquer new frontiers. This board is affordable, inflatable and designed as an all-round and touring board for lakes. On top of all this, it looks rather pretty, too – all in all, just what a rookie like me is looking for. But before it carries me, I have to carry the board to the lake. Weight is a really important factor when it comes to inflatable equipment. I’ve suffered quite a bit in the past, as I dragged along my fold-up kayak in its bag. This SUP, however, only weighs 7.5 kg and comes in a transport bag with all necessary accessories, so it’s not too heavy on my shoulders. And still, all this is included:
I arrive at Lake Zurich and spread out all the parts on the grass. I’ve only ever seen inflated SUP boards, but my Guruu has no air in it yet. I grab the pump; a rather decent one, by the look of it. I attach the hose to the valve and am ready to go. It doesn’t take long until the board looks fully inflated, but the pressure indicator on the pump shows that I’m nowhere near done. Reaching the advised pressure of 1,03 bar is quite hard work. I actually work up a sweat. I didn’t realise SUPing was this much of a workout before you even enter the water. Not that I mind – there are worse ways to warm up. After a while, I decide to give my arms a break and switch to single-action for the last bit. This allows me to get enough air into the board. I’m done, but it wasn’t easy.
All in all, getting the board ready took me about five minutes and the result is impressive: 3.20 metres long, 81 centimetres wide and 12 centimetres high. My Guruu. With its two layers and anti-slip deck, you wouldn’t know this is an inflatable board. It seems really solid and I have no doubts that the manufacturer was right in writing this board is «suitable for riders of up to 130 kg». Despite all this, I can easily grab the handle and spin the board around. I’d almost forgotten that – despite its size – it still only weighs 7.5 kg. I click the fin into place and off I go.
I lower the board into the lake and place the paddle across it. It’s now gently rocking in the water and I’m standing next to it, unsure what to do. Jump onto it? Crawl onto in on all fours? I decide to play it safe and kneel down on the board first before I carefully try to stand up. That’s when I realise there’s no need to worry – this board is much more stable than I thought it would be and I’m not making a fool of myself by falling off it in front of everyone. I might be upright now, but I’m floating around without a paddle and running the risk of beaching myself before I’ve even taken off properly.
The Guruu comes with an aluminium and plastic paddle with adjustable length. All you need to do is open the clip, extend the paddle as much as necessary and close the clip. Then you’re ready to go – if you know how to. My first attempts at paddling prove that this is the tricky part. I have trouble keeping balance and moving the board in the intended direction at the same time. All my manoeuvring, correcting and realigning happens in slow motion.
After my first few successful paddle strokes, I pick up a bit of speed and begin to enjoy the new perspective. Instead of moving just above the water surface and working your arms in front of your body – as you do in a kayak – I’m much higher up and in a more relaxed position on my SUP board. Standing up straight gives me a lot of room to move and I can really make the most of every paddle stroke. If you up the frequency of your strokes, you get a good workout for your arms and shoulders as well as your legs and core muscles.
But I don’t take things this far on my first SUP attempt. I concentrate on standing as stable as possible and paddling correctly while I move along the lakeshore. That’s enough of an adventure for the time being and I don’t have the necessary equipment for a longer trip anyway. According to Swiss law, you need to wear a life jacket to venture further than 300 metres into the lake.
I’m beginning to understand why so many people enjoy spending hours on their SUP. It allows you to have loads of fun without needing loads of equipment. Plus, with a bit of practice, you can cover quite long distances on your SUP. On top of this, you’re only a few centimetres from the water, you can sit or even lay down on the board if you need a break and move much more freely than in a boat or kayak. You may sense it; I’m not making fun of stand up paddlers anymore. I’ve turned from sceptic to fan.
My enthusiasm doesn't stop when I arrive back at the lakeside where I started off. Oh the fights I've had with inflatable boats and kayaks when I tried to deflate them properly and put them away neatly. Not so with my Guruu: Within short time, it's as flat as at it was at the start and I find it hard to believe it was carrying me over the water just a few seconds earlier. I can't offer you a comparison with other stand up paddle boards, but if you'd like to take up this sport and don't want to invest too much money, I can absolutely recommend the Guruu Union 320. There's no faulting this board. My Guruu and I – we'll definitely spend some more time together.
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