A DRIVING FORCE
FREERIDE FOIL TEST 2021
Once mocked and dismissed by many as yet another of our beloved sport’s fads, foiling has now become well-established within windsurfing. Today, on certain summer days, the numbers foiling at popular windsurfing spots around the country can easily outstrip the numbers ‘fin’ windsurfing! The new Olympic class is foiling … and what is more, it’s probably the first Olympic class since the original ‘Windsurfer’ back in the mid-eighties that has a tangible relevance to the recreational windsurfer.
Foiling is undoubtedly here to stay; the benefits are clear … but if you’re still an outright opposer of the movement, all I can suggest is not to knock it until you’ve tried it. For the vast majority that wind foil, it will never replace the thrill of conventional windsurfing; the buzz of blasting and hitting ramps, or the majesty of riding a wave. But what it does mean is that the sport can be enjoyed more often, in more varied conditions. And that, surely, can’t be a bad thing.
Editor: Tris Best // Second Testers: Maurin Rottenwalter, Joe North, Scott Stallman // Test Location: Portland Harbour // Photos : Bryony Webb
As time marches on, and the demands within a discipline become better understood, it is only natural that we begin to see some joined-up thinking amongst brands and their offerings – a correlation in directions taken and a sort of standardization of foil component dimensions. Wind foil specific masts now tend to be 85-90 cm tall, and in this freeride foil sector, all are aluminium in makeup. Put simply, carbon is expensive, whilst it has been proven by many that an aluminium mast can perform wonderfully, exhibiting minimal flex or torsion. Similarly, fuselage lengths have creeped up, with lengths between 90-95 cm commonplace. As a result, stability and predictability is improved, steadying the ride and accelerating progression. The components of the foil that remain the source of much debate and discussion are the wings, and even more specifically the front wing. Whilst all agree the material of choice is carbon, the split between high aspect or low aspect is too close to call. So all brands have taken the logical sensible step and made their platforms fully modular and in doing so, they leave the decision up to you and your personal preference. The modular concept also lends itself to reconfiguration for ‘winging’, so it is also worth considering before purchase that your foil is compatible with wing foiling, if that is something you indulge in or are considering for the future.
Starting with the Freeride Plus from Starboard, it’s the missing piece in their wind foil jigsaw. It’s a smooth, stable and easy foil to use, and a great tutor for a long, well-supported career along the wind foil route. You really can take it as far as you wish, right up to PWA foiling slalom and the Olympic racing! And the beauty is you can take it one step at a time – just add another component when you see fit! The Fanatic Flow series once again proves just how dependable a platform it is, the stiffness through its mast and fuselage making the whole ride so secure and dependable. The 1000 front wing is a great addition to a quiver – fast and engaging and requiring a more refined approach than the most popular 1500 sibling. It’s a wing to grow into and reap the additional performance benefits. The Redwing from Severne is their first foiling offering and it really sets the standard, and we understand that more component parts for it are due to follow soon. A fantastic passive tutor and manoeuvre advocate, it comes from a brand that has no interest in transferring to winging, catering for the dedicated wind foiler instead. And lastly, we come to the new Hybrid 1200 from GA Sails. The all-rounder in the lineup, it offers plug and play ease and a real performance range that will endear it to most. Plus, with the purchase of a few extra component parts, the Hybrid can be transformed directly into the brand’s wing surfing foil – a veritable chameleon of a foil!
One final note: it doesn’t take an eagle-eye to realise that there are a number of notable omissions in this lineup due to delivery delays. Fear not, the foils that weren’t available at the time of this test will be included in catch-up tests in future issues.
FREERIDE FOIL TEST 2021