Last year, the whitewater SUP virus finally seized me. After my first Wldwasser board, the first tours and the first successes in terms of technique and difficulties, I wanted to improve my performance significantly and I've got the supposedly best SUP for it: the Hala Atcha 96!
In the meantime, I have tested and tested this board thoroughly and I do not want to deprive you of my findings on the Hala Atcha 96 in this review.
The Hala Atcha 96
Why the Hala Atcha 96? My previous whitewater SUP was ideal for the entry, for higher levels of difficulty and more uncompromising lines limits were quickly obvious. Therefore, I went in search of a board, which is also suitable for high whitewater difficulties. If you want a purebred whitewater SUP, you hardly get past the Hala Atcha 96. But why? For this purpose, the manufacturer Hala Gear called several reasons:
- A massive rocker, so the bending of the board, facilitates the Durchpaddeln of rapids and white water
- A fin, which works in stone or ground contact in the board, a so-called StompBox, facilitates driving on extremely shallow passages and thus increases the safety; This feature is found in this form only on Hala Gear Boards
- A high width and a wide tail simultaneously increase maneuverability and balance
- An extremely robust construction to cope with the high loads in white water
These arguments convinced me on the part of the manufacturer, especially after I had some dangerous departures on my previous board, when the Finn caught a stone. The StompBox was for me one of the main arguments for buying the board. A short time later, I was the proud owner of a Hala Atcha 96 and not a week later I underwent the Wildwasser SUP at the Slovenian Soca the absolute stress test.
Facts and Figures
Like every review I do, we start with the most important facts and figures:
- Length 289 cm (9'6 "feet: hence the common name Hala Atcha 96)
- Width 91 cm (36 "inches)
- Thickness 15 cm (6 "inches)
- maximum pressure: 15 psi
- Weight: 13.6 kilos
- Five carrying straps and two reinforced D-rings
- Kickpad at the stern
- StompBox-center fin
- Four sidefins optional
Compared to my previous whitewater SUP falls especially over 7 inches greater width and the modified fin constellation.
Before the board can be used for the first time, manual work is required. The patented StompBox wants to be installed. For this purpose, the middle fin is installed with a spring mechanism in the fin box glued firmly in the board. The installation is very easy and already with the installation of the Finn the principle of the StompBox becomes obvious. Thus, the first impression solidifies that this is not just marketing promises.
In addition, the Hala Atcha 96 features two massive loops at the stern and bow as well as two fabric loops at the edges, so that after a fall, it can quickly pull itself back onto the board. Absolute must and standard for whitewater SUPs! The strap in the middle of the board is covered with soft neoprene. This makes carrying the board in the inflated state much more pleasant. Remarkable in contrast to SUPs of the competition: the carrying loop is a little deepened, so that it is flush with the surrounding deck. Thus, you can safely step on the handle in the water, without being unbalanced.
Almost standard is the luggage net at the bow, which can be increased significantly with two additional eyelets. Unusual for me, however, is that the inflation valve is located at the bow. This is completely irrelevant to inflate, but makes it almost impossible to let the air out of the board by rolling it up as usual from the bow.
In the Water
Already on the first ascent you immediately feel that you have a whitewater racer under your feet. You stand stable and central on the Hala Atcha 96 and the pronounced rocker and the sweeping width convey a sense of invincibility.
Maneuverability and Responsiveness
Especially in technical whitewater with numerous blockages and sweeping waters a high level of maneuverability and responsiveness of a whitewater SUP is indispensable. In this discipline, the Hala Atcha 96 seeks its equal. With targeted draw and bow strokes, the SUP can be easily and dosed in the right direction. The board responds immediately and immediately sets every paddle stroke in motion.
Great advantage of the Hala Atchas: the maneuverability can be massively influenced by different fin constellations: only with middle fin the reaction and revving joy of the board is the greatest. If you like it a bit more leisurely, you can mount up to four sidefins of different sizes and thus reduce the revving a bit. Ideal for river walks without heavy blockages. With a total of 9 possible fin constellations, the Hala Atcha 96 can be adapted at any time to your personal driving or to the river characteristics.
Balance is one of the key skills in whitewater SUP. Without an excellent body feel and the ability to keep even in high torrents and difficult passages to maintain balance, you will have the SUP in whitewater not fun. Even if a board can not do all the work for the driver, the board can affect the stability of the driver positively and negatively. The Hala Atcha 96 is lucky to be the first! The seven-centimeter extra width compared to my previous board is worth gold here.
The thickness of 6 inches and the width of 36 inches together compensate for some chaotic water movements. Also lateral waves or high ripples are no longer rocket science on the SUP. The pronounced rocker raises the SUP over almost every wave, so that the board with the bow hardly gets caught in the water. Apruptes braking and associated unpleasant departures are thus a thing of the past.
The least demanding flowing waters are meters deep and passages are then also blocked, stones are partly just below the water surface. If the draft of the SUP is too big and you are stuck with the fin on such a stone, dangerous Departures are preprogrammed with the head ahead over the bow away. A shallow draft is therefore an absolute must of a whitewater SUP.
In this respect, the Hala Atcha 96 is absolutely top class thanks to the patented StompBox. Although the large mid-fin normally protrudes about 15 centimeters deep into the water, in the case of ground contact it folds flush into the board and, thanks to the spring mechanism, automatically shuts it off in deeper waters. This allows the draft to be reduced to almost zero. Apruptes braking or annoying transfer to shallow passages belong to the past.
However, this only affects the middle-fins. The optional side fins are not hinged. For flat flow profiles should therefore be dispensed with.
But here, too, Hala Gear has been thinking. For the Hala Atcha river fins are offered with a profile of less than 3 centimeters. As a result, the draft is hardly negatively influenced and is still unbeatable. Personally, I completely do without side fins to reach the maximum passability.
If you are traveling with the SUP in whitewater, stone contact with the board is absolutely unavoidable. Be it a rock along which the rail grinds, a stone that scrapes over the underwater ship or a gravel bank to land on. A whitewater SUP must be able to cope with a maximum of burdens.
Of course, no board is unbreakable, but the Hala Atcha 96 performs well, as expected. Particularly stressed areas of the board are reinforced by a fourth additional layer. Even massive stone contact has left even after endless tours so far only optical traces. And even if a hard contact takes its toll, Hala Gear has included a complete repair kit including industrial glue.
Shallow Water Suitability
Each SUP I also undergo a cross test. What is the behavior of a wave SUP in the wave, a touring board in the sea and a whitewater SUP in shallow water? This is important for those who can not or do not want to afford multiple specialized boards but still want to cover a large area of application. That's why I went on a shallow water tour with the Hala Atcha 96.
The Hala Atcha 96 is a purebred whitewater board and you can tell that even in shallow water. A low top speed and too high revving make the Atcha not just the favored touring SUP. But of course you get with the Hala SUP in shallow water from A to B. For the compromise of whitewater board and family or touring SUP Hala Gear but offers more suitable alternatives.
My conclusion to the Hala Atcha 96
I bought the Hala Atcha 96 for one reason: The manufacturer promises to be able to offer the best whitewater SUP on the market. This in turn would allow me to significantly improve my performance in the whitewater.
Has Hala Gear kept that promise? Definitely yes!
Without exaggeration you have to give the manufacturer right at this point! The Hala Atcha is nothing more than the currently best whitewater SUP on the market. The Atcha is well thought out from bow to stern and 100% geared for use in whitewater. In whitewater, there are no weaknesses and the board allows the rider to go completely new ways in whitewater.
So it's clear that Hala Atcha appeals to absolute experts and performance oriented whitewater SUPers. If you are only occasionally in easy flowing waters or looking for an all-round SUP, you will find better and, above all, cheaper alternatives. For me, however, the Hala Atcha 96 is the perfect board!
Review posted by Tobias Risch of Surf and Climb.