We’ve been lucky enough to get our hands on the MagicAir 150 – the smaller of two inflatable windsurfing boards, new to the JP line-up for 2018. Of course, inflatable planing hulls are nothing new to windsurfing now, with Starboard and RRD amongst other brands introducing their own versions in the past. However, we have heard good things about this JP contender, so were keen to get our hands on it.
The brand’s take:
Labelling it as providing “air-cushioned performance”, JP have high expectations for the MagicAir: “Inflatables have clear advantages over hardboards: they are super comfortable and user friendly as they are easy to transport and store. So far, their only real disadvantage was their limited planing potential. Now JP presents two all-new inflatable windsurf boards which are specially developed and tuned for planing!
“The specially developed, super clean hard rails are covered by a fibre-reinforced layer of PVC cloth and create a smooth and efficient water release. Thus, the boards plane freely, accelerate
willingly and reach good speed with little drag – similar as you know it from freeride hardboards. You’ll be surprised how much fun they are! The best possible compromise between appealing
performance and ultimate comfort. The uncompromised advantages of an inflatable come paired with planing fun that comes close to that of a hardboard.”
Build wise, the JP is right up there. It isn’t light (especially compared to JP AllRoundAir SUPs in their Superior Edition construction), but in a way that’s a positive feature – with its pre-laminated triple layer composite drop stitch technology and stringers on deck and hull, it is built to be stiff under minimal pressure … and to last. The secret to its planing performance is of course the hard-rail on the tail of the board, which has been covered with a PVC wrap to make it blend in and become a more integral part of the board. It certainly looks more considered, rather than an after-thought as we have seen from other brands. A well finished product, with a thick durable towing eye on the nose, an extended EVA deckpad across much of the board, and several footstrap options to cater for every rider ability from intermediate to advance – the MagicAIR comes supplied with a 44cm moulded Powerbox fin, a pump and repair kit and a JP branded backpack with which to transport it in.
One aspect that may serve to confuse is that JP mark the MagicAIR as the 150, yet state the volume as 200L on the dimension chart (both on the board and the website). The fact is that inflatables behave and respond in a different manner to hardboards, so JP have tried to draw your attention to this. This board may have 200L of volume in the physical sense, yet responds in a similar manner to a hardboard of 150L, so that is the best way to think about it. Clear as mud…?
On the water:
Super easy and stable underfoot, the MagicAIR is recommended for inflation up to 15 P.S.I. and can carry a 7.5m sail easily. We tried it in 7.0m weather down to 4.7m and it coped well. To initially get going, you do need to anticipate a little drag, powering the sail up and stepping back on the board as early as you dare to reach the front strap and use it as a brace to plough more power in. A few pumps though and it releases well, accelerating smoothly and cleanly. The deck of the JP is quite flat, encouraging you into an upright stance over the board … and yet it is incredibly comfortable and can be used to cruise over great distances. Don’t expect to load it and break the sound barrier, or compete with the speed specialists on the water, but for a bit of summer fun that can’t help but bring a smile to your face, the MagicAIR is ideally placed. Comfortably powered, it points upwind well, glides through lulls easily and rides efficiently over the surface of the water, its houlders sitting high, well away from danger. The straps are easy to find and don’t feel ncomfortable when in use, the heel of the rider’s back foot resting on the rail for purchase. It ould make a good tutor to the progressing rider, providing the significant extra advantage of withstanding the impacts of inevitable catapults.
The other real trump card of the MagicAIR is its ability round the corners. In the tack, it carves smoothly in the wind before providing plenty of width and stability to shuffle round the front (even for the clumsiest pilot). In the gybe, the JP carves superbly, and has plenty of buoyancy in the rails to really drive hard and confidently. It grips well and retains its speed beautifully through the turn, encouraging the rider to push harder through the back foot to tighten the radius of the arc. It again makes an ideal platform for the progressing rider, with the response and feedback to really accelerate their learning.
Whilst it takes a little more rider input than we might have hoped to get going initially, the MagicAIR can’t help but bring a smile to your face once going. Providing hours of easy cruising pleasure, it is the ideal partner for the progressing intermediate rider and offers the massive advantage of travelling practicality and storage.