The Hobie Eclipse Stand-Up Pedal Board
I have never tried stand-up paddle boarding but the idea of a stand-up pedal board seemed like fun! The Eclipse is an epoxy composite board with integrated Mirage Drive slot and slot-in handle bars. The handle bar levers control the rudder found beneath the stern of the board. The Mirage Drive is powered by stepping alternately on two foot pads, which in turn drives two fins side-to-side beneath the board propelling you forwards. The whole idea of this on a stand-up board is quite novel! Hobie have released two models, a 10.5ft and 12ft model. I would be testing the longer Eclipse 12.0.
Testing the Eclipse 12.0 SUP
The whole things is quick and easy to set up. Slot-in the handle bars and connect the steering control cords. Slot the rudder blade into the housing beneath the board and then drop the Mirage Drive into the drive slot.... the whole thing takes less than 2 minutes. Holly was eager to try the Eclipse so she had the first go whilst i took to my Revolution 16.
She had the hang of it from the off and was soon zooming around! She was initially concerned about its stability but was soon at ease and realised that it was near impossible to fall off! I had the Raymarine Dragonfly on my Revolution 16 so could measure the speed of the board. It was happily doing 3 knots and 4 knots was achievable with a bit more effort..... awesome! She done a few laps of the harbour before i had a turn. It was just a case of raising the handle bars and away i went.
The first thing you notice is the stability.... this thing is solid! The handle bars give a re-assuring feel. It was a good workout too especially when sprinting fast. The board feels very light under the feet, you don't need to put too much effort in and this thing shoots forward! The 'Flow-Fins' on the Eclipse drive are much larger than that on my Mirage Drive 180, but then again you are powering this drive with your whole body weight. It was a noticeable difference from powering the heavier Revolution 16, especially when loaded up with all my fishing gear. It literally feels like you are walking on water, maybe Hobie should have called it the Jesus Board!
The steering is not as responsive as i'd have liked but after a while i got used to it. With no way of slowing the board you have to pay a little attention as to how close you get to obstacles. Once you are familiar with it's turning circle this isn't much of a problem. Care must also be taken when coming into shallow water. The fins protrude around 30cm below the hull so you must flutter the fins or not pedal when in shallow water to prevent damaging the fins. We only had to go a few yards off the beach before we could pedal away without worry.
On the flat calm waters of Hayle harbour the board was in it's element, and so was i as i zoomed around. As i became more confident i was leaning into turns and the board was responding better. It was great fun! Testing the stability, i could happily sit down on the board, or sit on its edge with my feet in the water.
The sun was setting and we were having a great time.
It was Holly's first go in a Hobie Kayak too and whilst she got on well with it, she actually preferred the Eclipse board!
She was soon back on the Eclipse as we spent the last half hour cruising around the harbour as the light faded.
This thing is great fun! As a way to enjoy a few hours on the water, it is brilliant. It would be ideal for cruising calm estuaries, harbours, rivers and inland waters. I'm not so sure it would be as enjoyable in choppy waters on open coastline though. It was simple to set up, easy to pedal and was more than capable of keeping up with my Revolution 16, so performance-wise i was impressed. It would be good to see a more responsive rudder system installed on future models, along with a bow handle to make carrying off the water easier. As with any composite craft, care must be taken near solid objects so that collisions and damage does not occur. It would be good to see a plastic version released, or perhaps a water brake installed - i'm sure a brake lever which forces a flap down under the hull could be incorporated. Holly and myself left the water with smiles on our faces so that says it all. Overall the Eclipse SUP is a great bit of fun!
Update: 2018 models include a bow handle and there are also plastic versions available!
If you are interested in buying a Hobie Eclipse SUP, check out Cornwall Canoes who stock the range.
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