Summer is just a few months away, and you know what that means. The valley unloads onto city beaches, parking lots are never empty and the waves limp toward shore. And, most dreaded of all, blackball is everywhere, meaning no hard floatation devices from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Talk about summer doldrums.
But thanks to Jim Weir, it doesn’t have to be this way. Over the past year, he’s created the “ULI,” a functional, lightweight, foldable water sports board that’s able to shatter summer-month regulations in a single paddle-out. The boards are constructed of the same sturdy materials the Navy seals use in their inflatable boats, making them durable and UV resistant. The fins are rigid enough to hold well in a wave, yet flexible enough not harm you or any nearby swimmers. They range from 5′ to 7’10” fish-style boards. The 6’6″ model weighs just eight pounds, folds up to the size of a loaf of bread and is easily stored into a backpack.
Last year’s testing in San Diego’s swim-only zones of San Diego beaches proved that lifeguards will give the ULI (an acronym for Ultra Light Inflatable) a cautious eye of approval.
How do they ride? “Very interesting. . . a very unique feeling and a lot of fun,” said test pilot Rob Machado. “It was beyond fun, maybe it was the whole idea of riding an inflatable surfboard that made it even more enjoyable. It floats better than anything I’ve ever ridden. Plus, you can catch anything.”
Of course, the Uli isn’t the next step in high-performance surfboards. But it is a good way to surf through the summer masses — citation free. — Jason Davis
[For more information, contact ULI at: [email protected]]