SUP Awards: 2023 Gear of the Year Winners

SAN DIEGO, California - After more than 6 weeks of deliberation the staff here at Supconnect is excited to announce the 2023 Gear of the Year Awards winners from our 14th Annual Supconnect Awards. As a brief background of the Gear of the Year awards, there were 7 categories for products to be nominated. The 2023 Supconnect Gear of the Year Awards launched on September 15th and with support from voters and feedback from retailers and our advisory board, winners have been chosen. So, without further ado, here are the category winners for the 2023 Supconnect Gear of the Year: 

All Around - Starboard Generation

sup awards 2023 allaround

The Starboard Generation is just that: a board for the new generation of standup paddling. The Generation is a board that excels in multiple water conditions; whether it’s a touring adventure, a local race or even paddling into some waves, the versatility of the Generation stands out. A few of the features that the Generation includes: the board is fairly parallel, which delivers a predictable and controlled glide. The wide nose delivers fast acceleration when sprinting as it floats on top of the water. The tail is pulled into a square shape, making it easier to sink for fast buoy turns and most responsive to turn sharply in surf. These are just a few of the many features and you can see the thought that went into this board was not taken lightly. And to put the board to the test, our editorial team did a full review of the Generation to say it lives up to the hype is an understatement. This board was So. Much. Fun! What’s more, when we check in with retailers about what boards are a hit with consumers this board was one that continued to be brought up and highlighted. In saying all of that, this is why we’re giving the Starboard Generation the 2023 Supconnect Gear of the Year Award for Best All Around Board.


Inflatable - Jobe Yarra Elite

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Finding a quality yet affordable inflatable standup paddle board can be quite a challenge with the market heavily saturated in inflatable paddle board products. There are so many products to choose from and it’s not always easy to find something that’s affordable yet has great quality and is a good all around package. Enter JOBE’s Yarra Elite paddleboard. This board checks all the boxes that we look for in an inflatable paddle board. Quality? Check. Full package? Check. Fun on the water? Priced well? Check, check. In fact, we had a chance to get our hands on this board earlier this year and it is one of the most complete packages that we've ever seen where all items included are really good quality. Sometimes when you get a great board, you get some not so great accessories that are included. That's not the case here. Everything in this inflatable package is premium which really shows the intent of giving its paddler a good experience in all touchpoints. For that, JOBE’s Yarra Elite inflatable wins 2023’s Best Inflatable Standup Paddle Board.


Race - Starboard Gen-R

sup awards 2023 race
Buzz and popularity by themselves are not enough to earn one of Supconnect’s awards. But sometimes, all the chatter around a product has real substance behind it. And here is where Starboard’s all-new Gen-R comes in. The Gen-R is a board design that sits in-between the well known Sprint and All Star models which are arguably a couple of the winningest paddle boards on the market so you know this new design is a good one. The Gen-R was built with technical racing in mind and has design features that are meant to help its rider excel in punching through waves and choppy conditions while maintaining its speed. And for bonus points, this board even works well for petite or youth paddlers due to its lighter weight and slimmed down design features. Pro athletes Connor Baxter, Noic Garioud and Michael Booth have all added this board to their equipment lineup so that's even further testament to its capability. And to add further validation to the Gen-R, retailers we've talked to are really excited about this board too. Our editorial team also had the chance to check out this board in person and it's the real deal folks. Here, innovation, quality, buzz and performance are the byproducts of a truly extraordinary SUP race board, Starboard’s Gen-R, Race Board of the Year for the 2023 Supconnect Awards.


Surf - Infinity New Deal

sup awards 2023 surf

The balancing act between production and custom surfboards is no easy feat. Learning from the design features that empower the best surfers in the world to shine, but then importing them into a board for your average consumer to rip is one of the toughest challenges for board designers. And there are few products that strike that ever-fleeting balance. Infinity’s New Deal is one of them. Infinity’s roots are in surfing so it’s no surprise that their standup paddle surfboards are of top quality and performance. The New Deal is a performance longboard shape with a thin rail and concave like a shortboard underneath. Essentially, this board is the best of both worlds with both longboard and shortboard features incorporated into its design, and it’s made to rip. Plus, it’s got the stamp of approval from retailers. With that incredible balancing act Infinity's New Deal (for the 3rd year in a row) has earned the 2023 SUP Surfboard of the Year in the Supconnect Awards.


Touring - SIC Maui Okeanos

sup awards 2023 touring

We hate to sound repetitive, but the enthusiasm for the SIC Maui Okeanos is palpable. Retailers, consumers, and even our editorial team can't seem to get enough of this exceptional board. The Okeanos effortlessly meets all the criteria for a top-tier touring board. Its ample gear platform, stability, smooth glide, comfortable deck, and convenient handle tick all the right boxes. Beyond that, it's the epitome of fun. Our initial experience with the prototype in 2019 left a lasting impression, and subsequent testing of various iterations solidified its status as one of the best boards available. The Okeanos guarantees a great time, thanks to its well-distributed volume that provides stability across the entire board, whether you're executing fancy footwork or embarking on a gear-laden adventure. The graphics, a departure from SIC's previous designs, inject a vibrant flair into the board's appearance, complementing SIC Maui's renowned solid colors. Additionally, the inflatable version is a convenient choice for those seeking a more compact option. The Okeanos excels primarily in flat water, earning the applause of retailers. Considering all these aspects, it's no surprise that the Okeanos has once again earned Supconnect’s Best Touring SUP award for 2023.


Graphics - Surftech Chameleon

sup awards 2023 graphics

This is one of our favorite categories to award since it highlights the creativity of the folks behind the scenes. It's not about performance or buzz but rather focuses on beauty, something that doesn't always get the appreciation that it deserves. And there is no shortage of beauty in our sport which is always encouraging. Whether it be a collaborative effort or special editions this category is one where the graphics and construction jump out of the shelf, immediately connecting at some deeper level. This year, the Chameleon from Surftech stood out. Surftech has consistently produced products with stunning graphics that when you look at the board alone make you want one, just because of its graphics and that's exactly what the Chameleon did for us this year. That says quite a lot. But our opinion isn't the sole decision maker here either and that's why we also take retailer and public, and industry feedback into consideration when making a final decision. And as it would appear, we weren't alone in the sentiment for the graphics on the Chameleon as the design had high marks across the board which is why the Chameleon receives the 2023 Supconnect Award for Best Graphics in our Gear of the Year category.


Tech - Starboard Welded Rail

sup awards 2023 tech
Starboard's Welded Rail Technology is the result of five years of development, and since its introduction, all Starboard inflatable SUPs have been built with this innovative technology. Starboard’s Welded Rail Technology has been tested against the industry standard glued rails, and the results speak for themselves: a decrease in warranty rates concerning leakage to under 2 out of 1000 boards since its introduction in 2018. The technology has been proven to last longer than conventionally glued boards, offering customers peace of mind when it comes to the durability and longevity of their board. And because of this new technology, Starboard now offers an unprecedented 6-year warranty on these inflatables which is a testament to the quality and durability of its Welded Rail Technology. And for that, we think this tech deserves 2023's SUP Gear of the Year award for technology.

Congratulations to all the hardworking folks behind the scenes who continue to produce these amazing products year after year! Stay tuned for the athlete and brand winners...

Last modified onFriday, 13 October 2023 14:36

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