An Interview with Bluefin SUP
IMAGE: Bluefin SUP
Stand-up paddle-boarding is booming. It encompasses exercise, tranquillity and adventure, offering activities from nature-spotting and paddleboard yoga to rapid-running and racing—and with no motors or batteries required, its eco-friendly credentials mean its popularity is likely to keep growing. That’s great news for Bluefin SUPs.
The UK-based company describes itself as “an ocean-spirited family business” passionate about building competitively-priced, premium inflatable SUP boards without compromising on quality.
Bluefin has spent years perfecting their boards and that work has paid off, with the company winning the #1 Best Inflatable SUP* for the last two years.
Bluefin don’t so much sell boards as complete kits. Every board comes with high-quality accessories, and the Cruise model has a conversion kit to turn the board into a kayak; a multifunctional feature that’s a tick in the green box. The boards are made using EXO Surface Laminate Technology and can withstand up to 28 PSI, with an HQ coating to protect them from UV and a Crocodile-Diamond deck pad providing comfy, no-slip grip. The premium (sometimes, military-grade) materials ensure durability and the “ever-lasting lifespan” that the company aims for. These aren’t boards to be thrown away, but boards to be kept, passed on or donated; that’s another tick in the green box, as is their strong connection to their community and their donation of boards to paddlers doing environmental work.
Bluefin are committed to producing boards for all abilities and ages, claiming “there’s a Bluefin for everyone”. So are they right? The Mammoth 18’ board is big enough for the whole family and the Cruise Junior, at 8’, is perfect for kids or adults under 5’3. Racers will want the speedy Sprint and yogis and rapid-runners will favour the extra-stable, extra-wide Voyage. However, the Cruise boards, available in a range of lengths, are all-rounders, designed to ensure one paddleboard can be used for a range of activities; multifunctionality and green thinking strikes again. It seems there might be a Bluefin for everyone—and likely that soon, almost everyone will have one!
*Based on SUPBoardGuide DE
IMAGE: Bluefin SUP
Bluefin has been making a huge splash in the inflatable SUP world and has been nominated as the #1 inflatable SUP for two years in a row. What are some of the secrets of your success?
I don't know if there is a singular secret but there are definitely a couple of things that have contributed to us gaining more visibility as a leading paddleboard brand. Firstly, our boards. The quality, time and effort that goes into our paddleboard design means that we have been able to gain a ton of amazing reviews, and clout within the industry. With the paddleboard community, people talk and it is a real opinion-led sporting industry. The fact that we are constantly listening to feedback, and improving our boards, has led to us having an amazing board that people are talking about. We are really connected to our customers, which means that we hear directly from the source as to what they want, and what we should be supplying. This leads me on to our second point; community. We are really lucky to have a super engaged Bluefin SUP Community. This not only gives us direct contact to product feedback, but also gives us access to the great pictures and videos that our customers are creating. In our marketing efforts, we now only use photos created by our paddlers. I think this has had a direct effect on us growing as a brand as people can see themselves in the content we produce. We have such a varied and amazing range of paddlers that really show how accessible paddling is.
Your SUPs have earned a reputation as one of the toughest and most rugged inflatable stand up paddle boards out there. What is it that makes Bluefin SUPs stand out from the crowd?
In terms of construction, I would agree with you there. We have ensured that our boards are made from the best quality construction. This is something that we rigorously test and has taken time to get right. As I have discussed, we have let the experts in the industry, alongside our customers, lead us to where we are in terms of board construction. In addition to the extensive research undertaken by our development team, we believe we have a unique construction and the best iSUP design out there. Elements of our board include Themosealed crocodile deck pad - the best design for grip, Reinforced drop stitch - to ensure your board stands the test of time alongside Military grade construction - these boards can go anywhere!
What advice would you give to a customer to help them choose the best SUP possible?
When a customer approaches us with no idea on which board to get, we ask them a few questions. Firstly, what will you be using the board for? It may be racing, yoga, leisure, touring, long journeys or as a sit-down kayak. We have boards for all of these different activities. Secondly, we ask them their weight and height and also if they plan to have kids on the board or their dogs (you'd be surprised how many people paddle with their pups!). Your weight and height are crucial to finding the right board for you, as being too tall may overbalance the board. Conversely, having a board that is 'too big for you' may make it difficult to paddle your board effectively. We have a comprehensive guide on our website:
We've recently been seeing more and more solid paddle boards and surfboards incorporate recycled, upcycled and renewable materials in an attempt to embed sustainability into the manufacturing process. Sadly, inflatable SUP brands haven't been so quick to adapt to the changing culture of their hard shell counterparts. Can you tell us if Bluefin is set to buck this trend?
We are currently looking into ways to make our boards as sustainable as possible. We have been enquiring about recycled plastic accessories with our boards but we need to ensure that we know where this plastic is coming from. We have heard horror stories of people sourcing 'recycled/ sustainable plastic' and it just being mixed up raw plastic. Currently, we practice sustainability by ensuring our returns process is waste-free. We repair boards and sell them (or donate them) as 'refurbished'. This, although time-consuming ensures that boards are not being disposed of. However, we are always looking at ways to increase the sustainable nature of our manufacturing and retailing process.
IMAGE: Bluefin SUP
How important is sustainability to the ethos of your company?
Very. I think it is ridiculous in the time that we live in to not have sustainability as a main priority. We operate a paper-less, recycling only office at Bluefin HQ. We also car-share and many of us bike to work. We are a super young company so we haven't been able to make these big choices yet. However, we will always keep sustainability in the top of our mind when making any decisions within every process of Bluefin.
We also support paddlers doing work for Surfers Against Sewage, 3-minute beach clean and Plastic Patrol. We donate boards to help them on their plastic collection mission. One of our paddlers, Jo Mosely, has just undertaken 'Paddleboard the North' - 167-mile journey across the width of the UK cleaning up our waterways as she goes.
SUPs are fast becoming a go-to option for sustainable tourism experiences. What is your view on the role SUPs can play towards contributing to ecotourism growth?
SUPs, especially iSUPs can definitely play a major part in ecotourism. They are motorless, without a battery and are compact enough to be carried to your destination. Additionally, our boards are affordable, which means that businesses are able to buy our boards to rent out at their resorts/beaches/ hostels etc. This brings in income for these businesses as well as further awareness of this eco-sport.
Our boards fit into a backpack, this allows for people to get to those hard to reach spots, super easily. This could mean that places that are usually quiet due to their location (remote beaches), could be accessed by paddlers.
What is your vision for the future of paddle boarding?
Paddleboarding goes hand in hand with sustainability. When paddling you are so aware of your surroundings as you are so close to the water, and away from technology. We have found that once people paddle and look around their local waterways, they are not often pleased with what they find. Plastic, rubbish and pollution litter our waterways and this is so evident when you are literally paddling through it. We have found that our customers gain a new awareness of the pollution problem we are facing. Thankfully, alongside awareness, paddleboarding does provide a solution. Paddlers are now using their boards to collect and clean-up waterways due to the ease the boards provide. This is something that we actively encourage see becoming a major part of paddleboard as a pastime.
We see the manufacturing of inflatable SUPs becoming more and more sustainable. With further research into how to make eco-boards more effective, this is something we hope to see become an industry standard. We have looked into 'GreenFin' (name pending!!) and are in talks into a recycled plastic board, but currently, we are just waiting for the technology to catch up with the ideas.
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