The STX Inflatable Windsurf 280 is the board that initially introduced me to the STX brand. I first discovered the board on display in a shop and it’s simplicity, versatility and price point immediately appealed to me. I had sailed a few WindSUPs, but this board seemed like it had more to offer. On paper it seemed to be a “Jack of all trades” which could be used by beginner and intermediate windsurfers, but with straps and a release edge so that planning was also possible. I was immediately interested in the concept and contacted STX to try and get my hands on a test board.
The Board is 280cm long and has 280 litres of volume. The shape is very simple with a rounded nose and square tail and a glued on “rail” starting from approximately where you would expect the planning area to start. This rail is to help with water release assisting the board in getting onto the plane. Most inflatable boards have rounded edges which sucks into the water and prevents the board from releasing.
The STX features two fin boxes in the rear of the board and one centre fin in the middle. The centre fin is removable for planning conditions in the hands of more advanced riders. All three fin boxes protrude from the base of the board which does increase drag and there is a little flex in the rear fins when loaded laterally at higher speeds. The rear fin boxes are US slot boxes with a screw fin system and the centre box uses a slide in fin with a clip similar to what is found on the other STX Stand Up Paddle Boards.
The mast base is a single threaded hole in the board and STX recommend that you use a “cardan” (hinged) mastfoot with this board to reduce loads which could potentially pull the mast base out of the board. The mast foot thread is covered with a sticker saying “recreational use only” when you first unpack the board.
The STX 280 Windsurf comes in the same bag as all STX inflatable SUPs. In the bag there is the same high quality pump supplied with all STX boards (The deflate function comes in handy with this model), three fins and the repair kit. The 280 Windsurf does not come with a paddle.
When first unrolling the board it is worthwhile remembering how it was folded up and packed in the bag as with the extra fin box it is not necessarily obvious how to best fold the board to pack it away at the end of the session.
With the supplied pump the STX Windsurf board pumps in under 10 minutes. The board feels quite hard and stiff for an inflatable board when on the water with 15 psi of pressure. The valve on the board states that it can take up to 20 psi, but I am not aware of how this might affect your warranty.
On the Water
For a more advanced sailor the board definitely feels different to a hard board. But it would be unfair to compare a 899CHF inflatable windsurf board to a 2000CHF+ Carbon board. At 80kg I could feel a very slight give in the deck which felt similar to how a slightly delaminated hard board might feel.
The volume is immediately evident and if you are used to sailing smaller boards it does take a moment to get used to this. But, bearing away in about 18 knots of wind the board started to rise onto the plane as you would expect with just a little extra drag compared to a hard board. Once planing you do feel a little drag from the external fin boxes but the board does release to give a proper sensation of windsurfing. I managed to get almost 20 knots out of the board which was not much slower than the speed I was going on my wave board in the same conditions.
The volume makes the board very stable off the plane and normal low speed maneuvers like tacking and gybing are very easy on this board. Due to the good quality deckpad which provides considerable grip the board is ideal for practicing any manouvers you might want to learn in lighter winds. Once planing foot steering works, but the board is quite challenging to plane through a gybe preferring a flarve technique of foot steering in and flaring the board out.
The high volume of the STX along with the soft edges and good deck pad lend it to being an ideal beginner/intermediate board. I’ve thought beginners up to 100kg on the STX over the summer of 2019 and it has proven to be a very dependable board for those taking their first steps.
The relatively short length and centre fin make the board very maneuverable and with flat water conditions most beginners can learn and progress quickly. The stable platform allows total beginners to concentrate on learning how to handle the sail and progressing sailors can use this stability to think about their technique rather than just trying to stay on the board.
I would go as far as to say that this is possibly one of the boards that I have had most success with in teaching beginner and intermediate windsurfers.
While developed primarily as a Windsurf board, the 280 Windsurf also works quite well as a Stand Up Paddle board. At 9’2″ the board is shorter than most other inflatables, but offers great stability and maneuverability at the cost of a very slight reduction in gliding ability. When paddling with someone else on a 10’6″ inflatable I did not really feel disadvantaged, but the board did feel like it needed just a tiny bit more energy over a standard SUP. The only thing missing (in my opinion) for using the 280 Windsurf as a SUP board would be some bungee cord on the nose to allow carrying a drybag along when going for a paddle.
Some taller or heavier people I’ve had out to try out a range of SUPs actually choose the STX Windsurf board as their SUP of choice, due to it’s stability. So, the STX 280 Windsurf can definitely also be used as a SUP board if you are so inclined (paddle sold separately)
Packing was probably the most challenging element of using the STX 280 Windsurf, but with a little practice this can also be mastered. Due to the box for the centre fin the board can not be simply rolled up like other iSUPs. The board first needs to be folded from the nose to about half way along it’s length, then the tail needs to be folded over the back of the fin boxes and the board folded from the tail to meet the section which has been folded from the nose. Using this method ensures that the board can fit easily in the bag despite the extra fin box. Using the deflate function on the supplied pump to remove all the air from the board definitely makes folding the board easier.
- Ease of Use
- A toy for the whole family
- Lighter than a hard board of similar volume
- A little cumbersome to pack up at first
The STX 280 Windsurf is a great value for money board for a family who would like one board to do it all for Stand Up Paddle or Windsurfing. The ability to store the board in it’s backpack greatly helps with storage and transport. For those who already windsurf at a higher level the board is a great toy for lighter winds in the summer or to teach your family and friends to the sport. If like me you are generally sailing in higher winds on small wave boards the STX can be a great compliment and allow you to get out and play in the summer on days when you would otherwise sit on the beach.