Sebastjan Sitar had been thinking a lot about electric bicycles by the time his wife and daughters ran into trouble on the water. They were in a calm lagoon aboard stand-up paddleboards, having a great time, but they got tired and struggled to get back to shore. “If you are going uphill with a bike, you can say, ‘Enough! I don’t want to do this anymore,’ and you can get back,” Sitar says. “I thought there should be the same thing for the water, a safety motor assist.”
He created the company SipaBoards, which he launched with a Kickstarter campaign in 2015. Since then, more than 5,000 SipaBoards have been sold in 26 countries. A few months ago, the SipaBoards Drive Collection was unveiled with three updated board-and-power combos: the Neo ($3,255), Tourer ($3,900) and Allrounder ($3,900). Each has a new modular power-pack system that allows for quicker charging, in addition to a self-inflate system to ease the task of getting the boards ready to use.
“It’s so difficult to inflate the board if you are not super strong,” he says. “With this, you press two or three buttons, and the board is ready. It assists you.”
The whole system is controlled through a smartphone app or a Bluetooth-enabled remote. The newest boards, Sitar says, are 48 percent lighter than the original ones. And, he adds, the newest motor is a lot quieter.
“We work a lot on being as quiet as possible,” he says. “If you want to go on an early-morning paddle, you don’t want to hear the noise of starting up an engine.”
The most common question he receives from yacht owners is whether the battery technology is safe. SipaBoards locate the battery in a fire-resistant housing to prevent problems, he says, adding that other safety considerations have also been top of mind during the product development: “We did a lot to be as harmless as possible for water life, nature,” Sitar says. “We have a small jet that cannot hurt you, that doesn’t damage the environment.”
It all gives yacht owners and guests the option of adding a power-assist to their daily paddle. “You can still do a good workout if you want to,” he says, “but you also have this.”