There's a lot of buzz in the air surrounding the March 2018 launch of iROCKER's impressive new line of BLACKFIN premium inflatables. After having the opportunity to review the BLACKFIN Model X and Model XL boards, we wanted to catch up with iROCKER SUP founders Dave Erwin and Steve Elder to get the inside scoop on this impressive new line…
I have to say, we were really impressed by both of the new BLACKFIN boards that you guys just released. What were your main motivators for launching the new BLACKFIN SUP line?
I don’t know if we could point the creation of BLACKFIN to any one or two main motivators. BLACKFIN was really more of a conversation that started almost 2 years ago. We wanted to offer a premium line of inflatables to those looking for the next step up in iSUPs. We basically took what we already had with iROCKER, which is already a very high quality paddle board that comes with very good accessories, and upgraded everything as much as we could. There is not one thing that was left out.
As far as branding goes, why did you choose to launch the new models under the BLACKFIN label vs. the popular and already well-established iROCKER brand?
The answer to this really comes back to the idea of wanting to offer the next level of iSUP. The idea behind BLACKFIN is to be the premium line of iROCKER. We have always had customers call and ask us about adding a carbon paddle to their package, or a wheeled roller bag, or adding additional grab handles, additional storage areas, D-rings, etc. So BLACKFIN really got all those things that these customers were asking for and more.
Since BLACKFIN's official launch in March, what type of feedback have you received from both existing and prospective customers?
Everything we have heard has been positive. People seem to really like the looks of the board. That is the first thing we always hear from someone, how much they like the look. And then we also started hearing from those customers who asked for those additional features. I can remember one guy who called us up and said, “iROCKER made a 35” board, well-played IROCKER, well-played.” The people who are purchasing BLACKFIN over iROCKER are the people that were looking for something extra, like a dual cargo area or a wheeled roller bag for travel.
What were some of the challenges that you encountered as you were developing this new line of premium iSUPs?
There are always challenges when putting together a package like this. We wanted to make sure that we had the best accessories included. You’d be surprised how many different ways a paddle can be configured. There are different materials, different blades, different hand grips, different locking mechanisms for the 3 different parts. All of this had to be tested, retested, and sometimes retested again to make sure that it was the best. Then there were quite a few people asking the same questions you asked, why BLACKFIN and not just stick with iROCKER? We had to answer that question for ourselves. But I think we made the right decision. There is no hiding that this is BLACKFIN by iROCKER.
What would you say sets the BLACKFIN SUP line apart from the competition?
Every detail of the BLACKFIN line was very well thought out over thousands of hours of discussion and testing. This is very apparent when just looking at the board. We also included the new Quad Layer technology in the construction of the board just like we did for iROCKER SUPs in 2018, but we also added a carbon layer for added durability and rigidity. And then we also decided to feed the pump some protein by increasing it to a dual chamber triple action hand pump which is a step up from the single chamber dual action pumps.
Do you have plans to launch additional BLACKFIN models? If so, are there any details you can give us regarding what you have in the works?
Up to this point with all the great feedback we have gotten from the launch of the new BLACKFIN boards, I don’t know how we could say no to this answer. As far as details on the expansion of BLACKFIN, I have no idea. But one thing is for sure. it will be awesome.
Going forward, will your main focus continue to be the core iROCKER SUP line, or do you view the BLACKFIN models as a top priority when it comes to the ongoing success of your company?
Our main focus is to continue to provide our customers what they want. That will continue to be iROCKER and now also will include BLACKFIN. BLACKFIN is part of iROCKER. I think it has become pretty apparent by now that our main focus when developing new products is to give our customers what they want and ask for.