A couple times a year, kayak retailers put on a “Demo Day” to allow perspective new kayakers to try out various paddle and pedal watercraft. Attending this event is the best way to find the perfect boat for your needs and enjoy a day on the water.
This year, Hobie released their new Mirage Eclipse 10.5 and 12 just before demo day and they had a couple on-hand to take for a spin. I stood in line to give it a whirl. It’s a head turning ride and an interesting concept, so there was always a few people in queue. I only had a chance to test out the 10.5, as the 12 foot model was always in use.
I have been on traditional stand-up paddle boards before, my marsh kayak is a stand-up paddle boat so I am used to standing. I enjoy the vantage point for both fishing and sight seeing.
The first few moments on the Mirage Eclipse are a bit odd for anyone with prior SUP experience or even Hobie pedal drive experience. You are standing and pumping the drive similar to the stair master exercise equipment. It is more like a stair machine than an elliptical machine, despite what the name “Eclipse” may somewhat suggest. Your brain tells you that by making this motion on this board, you are going to rock the boat on fall off, but you have to be brave and just go with it. Once you get in the groove of the motion and find the balance point – it’s a fun ride and it’s super stable.
The next feature on the Eclipse is the handle bar and lever controlled rudder. Despite being warned to make minor rudder adjustments, I squeezed the crap out of it and almost fell off. At least I felt like I was about to fall. The rudder turns hard and fast with a good squeeze and the boat will lean immediately. The handle bar however, gives you instant support in that unbalanced moment, a moment that would normally result in a quick dunk on SUP.
This was a really fun ride and I imagine it opening up a new outdoor activity for those that have not had the best of luck balanceing on SUPs or those that want to take their cardio workout out of the gym and into the outdoors.
The 12 foot model runs $2600 and the 10.5 runs $2500 with a weight capacity of 275 and 225 lbs. respectively. While the sticker price may shock some, the price is right in line with other Hobie products, high-end paddle boards and elliptical exercise machines (which is it’s true competition and rival). In my opinion, traditional SUPers will remain traditional. The Mirage Eclipse will tap into a new user base and get more people outdoors and enjoying the water. In my book, that is ALWAYS a GOOD thing.
Additional specifications available here: http://www.hobiecat.com/stand-ups/mirage-eclipse/