Monday, January 21, 2019

Wrestling waves, Sumo-style

Water-sports enthusiasts continually seeking new and more thrilling ways to be on, in, or man-handled by water are the bread and butter for companies producing aquatic recreational gear.   Take, for example, Sportstuff, Inc. (parent company, Airhead Sports Group) which produces various inflatable gadgets for various types of aquatic fun.  The company has a fairly long list of patented equipment, such as numerous inflatable towable vehicles (US 6,010,381, US6283811) for the adrenaline junkies, a floating trampoline (US 6,447,426) for those preferring dramatic, aerial entries into the water, and a floating island (US D504,488) for those seeking a more leisurely pace, thus providing options encompassing a wide range of physical activity.

One of their most interesting (and entertaining) innovations may be the Sumo Tube, with its listing in the “Totally Absurd Inventions” website a telling indication about the appeal of this particular product.  The Sumo Tube may provide the wearer with a physique loosely resembling that of a Sumo Wrestling and, perhaps more importantly, endowing the wearer with a protective layer that will be appreciated by anyone who has been accidently towed behind a speed boat belly-down or bodysurfed in pounding shore break.   Fortunately this inflatable device is protected under a design patent (US D501,907), thwarting the throngs of likely knockoffs that might otherwise ensue and litter the faces of highly desirable surf breaks with bouncy, spinning, PVC objects vaguely resembling giant floating bells with protruding limbs.  Regardless of the aesthetics, skipping along the face of a steep wave, encased in an inflatable suit, appears to combine a love of surfing, bodyboarding, body surfing, as well as water skiing (when towed) all into one bright orange, wearable buoy readily available on Amazon and easily packed thanks to its patented speed safety valve (US 6,814,639).


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