Fanatic Shaper Kai Steimer tells us more about the shape highlights and the R&D process he is doing in cooperation with our top riders for our raceboard range Blitz, Strike and Falcon.
Kai, can you tell us briefly what´s new for the 2022 Blitz?
We have a couple of new features. Like the new semi-recess on the deck allowing a better transfer of power combined with increased grip, balance and positional awareness. Furthermore, the optimized rail shape results in improved stability and a safe stance in all conditions.
The nose shape looks different as well – why did you change that?
The new sharper nose on the bottom results in a better flatwater glide and easy paddling against chop and the rounded rails on the bottom before and after the standing area gives the board great maneuverability and easy turning. The slightly V on top of the nose directs the water better to the right and left and thus avoids unnecessary water inflow into the recess.
Where are you testing/in which conditions?
The Blitz is our allround-racing machine and should be working in aggressive chop, huge surf as well as on flat water. That´s why it´s super important that the protos get tested in several conditions and spots like in France, Tarifa, Klitmoeller or the Baltic Sea.
How many test runs did you do before the final proto?
We did several prototypes and test rounds between Arthur, Christian, Fred and myself over a period of several months. All riders give me their input and I change what I think makes most sense. The reference board is always the actual model.
There will be two different shapes for the two new models, is that correct?
Yes, there is an own outline for the 25.5” Blitz with extra stability due to a longer parallel outline than the 23.5” – works for beginners to open ocean paddlers.
Can you tell us a bit more about general R&D process/how that works?
To start off, we get as much feedback as possible on the actual model from our dealers, agents, reps, team riders and opinion leaders; and filter all the information to learn what improvements or changes they would like to get. I add my ideas and we build prototypes and then ship it to whatever destination we require to test this particular shape for the first time. I always make sure at least two riders are testing the same proto to have two inputs. Sometimes we also get some national riders involved as well. I summarize all information and feedback after every session and make sure the relevant changes will be done for the next round of testing.
For SUP racing, what would you say is the hardest feature to design?
The perfect race board should be fast, stable, stay comfortable and turn easy – even in tricky conditions. You need to play with all the different
aspects to find the right option. Most people think the fastest board will win. Without acceleration and control you will never win any races. You have to find the perfect balance between all features.
What happens if you don’t all agree on the best board?
At the end of the day we choose the best prototype which works for everyone at the highest level of competition. If not It´s up to me to find a balance between all the riders, but mostly we all agree.
Do you test boards from other brands?
Yes, and it’s important to compare to the other brands for various reasons. You can learn a lot trying some other board. When something is good, why not try to be better! But our ‘old’ model is always the main reference while testing.
What´s the main difference between the Blitz, the Falcon and the Strike?
The Strike and the Falcon are our two specialized race boards, the Blitz is sitting in between and combines both worlds. The Strike is our dedicated flatwater board and offers the best flatwater speed and glide, due to his sharp bow, the flat bottom curve it has the longest waterline between all race boards. The Falcon is our downwind machine and offers the best glide on pumps during a downwind run. With his voluminous nose and the narrow tail, it offers the perfect balance between catching effortlessly waves and forgiveness while running from the back into pumps.
The Blitz combines both worlds. It has the same bottom curve as the Falcon and due to the light recess the board is more versatile. The nose is optimized for flatwater glide and can handle everything from bumps or chop to flatwater grind and draft trains!
What´s your favorite race SUP model?
Coming from Germany I am mostly paddling on flatwater, so the Strike is definitely the board I use the most. It offers many small design details I have developed over the years. The Falcon and the Blitz are also amazing boards and I love to ride them when the conditions are suitable.
Do you have any tips on who should get which model?
When you paddle mostly on rivers or lakes you should get the Strike. If you live on the coast and you like to paddle in choppy conditions, surf some waves or do sometimes a downwinder the Blitz is your board. The Falcon is the board for open ocean downwind. If you like to go with the wind and surf pumps that’s your board.