Sea Eagle is a family owned company and has been in the inflatable watercraft business since 1968. They pride themselves on delivering quality products at affordable prices and offer up a wide variety of inflatable kayaks, SUPs, boats and canoes. We’ll be taking a closer look at the Sea Eagle NeedleNose NN116 Stand Up Paddle Board in this review, so read on.
Yup, a SUP and Kayak in one.
The NeedleNose NN116 gets its name from its 11’6” length, it’s also 30” wide, 6” thick and weighs only 23 pounds. This board is ideally suited for beginner and intermediate paddlers under 200lbs. The lightweight drop stitch material construction uses thousands of high tensile strength threads to connect the top and bottom fabric layers, this creates a multitude of I-beam supports which increases the overall rigidity of the board while maintaining its durability and lightweight.
The obvious difference between this SUP and most others is the NeedleNose bow which uses a unique wave piercing design. Sea Eagle basically added a pointed cap to the NeedleNose NN116 which enables it to cut through the water with ease as it redirects water around the SUP which reduces overall drag. Traditional inflatable SUP’s use a rounded nosed which slows you down on longer paddles. The hydrodynamically curved touring shape and straight-line hull design mean that the NeedleNose NN116 is more efficient to paddle which allows you to go further and have more fun.
On top of the board you’ll find a Diamond Deck EVA Foam Pad, for comfort and grip along with a built-in PaddlePocket which accommodates the blade of your paddle and holds it in place while carrying the board. There are several D-rings located in the front and mid section of the SUP for securing gear and a bungee cargo net for those items you need to access quickly. At the back of the board there is a built in kick tail which allows for sharp pivot turns.
The biggest features of the NeedleNose NN116 SUP has to be its ability to convert to a kayak. Sea Eagle provides you with a four-piece kayak paddle and an inflatable kayak seat which clips to the SUP’s D-rings. The seat is comfortable and provides plenty of back and a higher perch from which to paddle. The kayak option is particularly useful for when the wind picks up and the lake water becomes too choppy to paddle on a SUP. The conversion from SUP to Kayak only takes a matter of minutes and provides a versatile option for everyone in the family.
This is the smallest of the three boards in Sea Eagle’s NeedleNose lineup, there’s also NN126 and NN14 versions available.
The inflatable seat is a nice touch and takes a bit more time to rig up but makes for a mighty perch from which to paddle.
The Sea Eagle NeedleNose NN116 Stand Up Paddle Board has the ability to convert over to a kayak which is super handy when it’s too windy to SUP. With the addition of the inflatable seat and kayak paddle instead of the SUP paddle, the NeedleNose NN116 becomes a sit-on-top kayak. While this is a really interesting option for most paddlers I think there is still room for improvement. I’d prefer to see the switch from SUP to Kayak be more seamless. By this I mean it would be nice to be able to convert the NeedleNose NN116 to a kayak on the fly without having to carry a bulky seat, pump and additional paddle. If the kayak seat didn’t require inflation and the SUP paddle could be converted to a kayak paddle then you could store these additional items under the bungie cord tie-downs and have everything you need on the water to convert to kayak mode in an instant. As it stands now you need to either paddle the NeedleNose as a SUP or a Kayak and go back to shore to convert it over. While this is a lot to ask of the NeedleNose I think some design tweaks could make it happen!
The NeedleNose bow design is the other big innovation, while it does looks funny and unconventional—it works. Other inflatable SUP’s have a rounded nose which slows you down considerably on longer paddles. Solid stand up paddle boards use displacement hull designs to improve paddling efficiency and the NeedleNose is Sea Eagle’s answer to this. Looks aside, the NeedleNose design slices through flat water and wavy conditions alike. While I did not find the NeedleNose NN116 as laterally stable as other inflatable SUP’s it was much sure more efficient to paddle.
The Sea Eagle NeedleNose NN116 is economically priced at under a thousand dollars US, which is pretty impressive considering all that you get (SUP, high pressure pump, three part adjustable composite fibreglass paddle, repair kit, kayak paddle, inflatable kayak seat, foot pump and carry all backpack). While the paddle board itself is of relatively high quality as are the materials used, the paddles and pack are not. The paddles are heavy and the length adjustment on the SUP paddle is a frustrating turn and lock system which is not conducive to keeping the handle and blade in alignment. The pack I was supplied had no attachment point for one of the pack straps and I found the draw string closure and mesh design to be of poor quality and cheap feeling. I doubt the pack will stand up to any abuse and is definitely not designed for air travel.
Overall the Sea Eagle NeedleNose NN116 provides good value considering what you get for your money, just don’t expect the add on’s to be of super high quality. If you are an intro paddler or looking for a SUP that will keep the entire family entertained (no matter the wind conditions) then this could be the SUP for you.
Price: $999US ($899 without the kayak paddle, foot pump and seat)
Weight: 13kg / 23lb
Dimensions: 325x76x15cm / 11’6”x30”x6”
Capacity: 90kg / 200lbs
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