Ian Smith

Ian Smith

Professional Whitewater SUP Paddler and Racer

Owner of SurfSUP Adventures (www.surfsupadventures.com)

Founder of First Waves (www.firstwaves.org)


I bought my first ULI in 2009, shortly before starting a paddleboard guiding business called, SurfSUP Adventures.  That board, a 9’3” ULI Fat Ass Quad, is still in my fleet today, nearly a decade later.  Its longevity is not a testament to lack of use or impeccable treatment, either.  It has seen abuse that no paddleboard deserves.  It has been folded in half around a boulder against the flow of the Cheat River, stuck beneath the base of countless waterfalls, and scraped, battered, and dragged against sand, stone, dirt, and concrete.  That board has endured battle while allowing my friends, my clients, and me to explore places we couldn’t have dreamed of from the vantage of a paddleboard.


What I love about ULI Boards is the craftsmanship and performance. Innovations like the Kevlar Tensioning System and Wiki Rails really set the boards apart from anything available.  To paddle difficult whitewater or surf challenging waves, you can’t have a board that’s holding you back and not performing.  ULI has never let me down in any situation regardless of how demanding the environment.  How the board feels and performs directly translates to the experience that you have and ULI boards are designed to maximize that feeling.  Whether it’s for high performance SUP surfing, whitewater, or racing – ULI provides the ultimate inflatable for that scenario.


In addition to boards for my personal use, ULI Boards have been a vital asset for my business and for teaching others.  When I started SurfSUP, it was my goal to make sure everyone trying SUP for the first time had an amazing experience.  Being on the right board is a key ingredient for success and boards like the Steamroller and ULI Touring models have been the perfect fit.  In my experience, there isn’t a board available that is as durable as ULI’s inflatables.  They are simply built to endure the test of time, along everything a guide or outfitter can throw at them.  Even better, they do so without having to sacrifice performance or add weight.  The craftsmanship and materials do the heavy lifting and have been irreplaceable for me surviving as a small SUP business.


Aside from performance and durability, ULI Boards are the only inflatable SUP boards that are made in the United States.  Each board is crafted by hand in Vista, California.  This positions ULI to stand alone in their ability to produce custom shapes and designs on demand.  In this way, ULI perpetuates the legacy of traditional surfboard shaping through local sourcing and production, making it an option for inflatable boards.  You can call ULI with a concept or visit the shop to create your own template.  Your board will then be custom fabricated from raw materials to completed craft.  In the same way, each of the refined shapes that have been designed by the ULI team are produced by hand once your order is placed.  This relationship with ULI’s staff and the ability to customize inflatable boards to suit your needs or the needs of your business is a game-changer in the realm of standup paddleboarding.