The Ocean Rodeo Go Joe is an inflatable board recovery aid for kiteboarding. It’s not hard to lose your board when kiteboarding, especially when first learning. The normal thing to do when you are separated from your board is to body drag back to it. That’s cool and you should know how to body drag, but as a beginner you can lose your board a lot and spending most of your session drinking water as you get pulled back to your board gets old fast.
The Go Joe does three things to help out:
- turns your board right side up [this allows it to go downwind towards you faster]
- makes the boards more visible in waves and chop
- acts like a sail to catch the wind and push the board towards you
All this means you’ll be back up and riding a lot faster.
When I was learning I got a board leash to attach the board to me so I couldn’t lose it. It works great except that it has a nasty habit of loading up like a bungee and firing the board straight at you – ouch! Not ideal. =-( The Go Joe won’t do this so you can use it without fear of your own equipment hurting you. I don’t recommend using a leash – not worth it!
I got a Go Joe from Bellingham Kiteboarding [best prices and service for OR gear that I've found] for Sharon to help her make the most of her time on the water as she learns to kiteboard and to reduce the frustration of board recovery. The best part about the Go Joe is that it allows you to use your body dragging skills to get back to your board. Eventually you’ll get good enough at riding that you won’t lose your board often and your body dragging skills will get good enough that recovering your board is painless.
Installation is a snap. The top video goes through all the steps. Basically you attach the Go Joe via the two bolts holding your board’s grab handle to the board. The Go Joe is made of very strong material similar to the leading edge of a high quality kite and has an inflatable bladder inside with a one way valve you attach a kite pump to. I liked the fact the one way valve kept the air in while I inserted the valve plug. I wish my kites had valves like that! The Go Joe is durable enough to withstand a lot of abuse and you don’t have to baby it.
The Go Joe stays attached your board between sessions and you simply deflate at the end of the day to store/transport the board. Installation is so easy you can move it between boards in 2-4 mins.
The Go Joe is generally considered a product targeted at beginner riders. And while it’s certainly useful for new kiteboarders there are times when even experienced riders can use help getting their boards back. If conditions are extreme and even seeing your board is tough in the waves and chop the Go Joe’s added visibility can be very handy to help you spot your board and make recovery easier. Some kiteboarding sites have difficult currents to deal with that can move a board away from you faster than you can body drag upwind. With the Go Joe the board will resist the currents and let you get it back.
Although I bough this Go Joe for Sharon I’m sure I’ll be using it from time to time when circumstances warrant. I won’t risk losing an $700 – $800 board because I was too lazy or proud to use every tool at my disposal! Of course we did get the black Go Joe which is much easier to see than a board upside down in the waves, but at the same time it doesn’t scream newbie! A decent compromise…=-) It’s easy enough to wrap some neon flagging tape around the top of the Go Joe when we need max visibility.
So far at Nihtnat this summer I’ve heard of several boards that have gone missing and have been too hard to spot in the large lake. So their owners had to give up riding or borrow a board until they could find a new one to buy. At $700 – $800 a new kite board is not cheap.
Even on Sharon’s relatively small [130cm] board the Go Joe doesn’t interfere with riding. It’s flexible enough that if your leg touches it the Go Joe can bend out of the way so it doesn’t inhibit your freedom of movement. This black Go Joe is also largely invisible with all the spray and speed involved with riding around on the water. You can pretty much forget about it until you need it.
You’ll notice that the Go Joe has a tapered bottom and wide top. The tapered bottom is designed so it doesn’t catch spray from the board when riding and slow you down. The wide top is what pops the board upright and acts like a sail to push the board downwind to you.
Anyways that’s all for now – I’ll post a detailed review next spring once Sharon has had time to put the Go Joe to a long term test.