WHY GO SMALLER?
80L WAVE BOARD TEST 2016
Test Editor Tris Best // Second Testers Maurin Rottenwalter,
Joe North and Dan Sallows
Photos Nick George and Alex Best // Test Location Southwest England
It was always a bit of a gamble testing such small boards and sails around the UK’s shores. Would we get the winds early enough in the season to test the kit in time for the magazine’s deadline? I have to be honest, it was a bit touch and go at one stage, calling upon friends and experienced road-trippers for their best advice on where to go. I needn’t have been so worried! Whilst most of the rest of the country have been lamenting the lack of
summer this year, most windsurfers have been rejoicing at the passage
of cyclones across the country … and simply putting up with
the odd shower or two.
This test was originally published in the November/December 2015 issue.
The truth is that if we could shift the tests back a few months, we’d (hopefully) be inundated with the kind of weather that the likes of us ‘high-wind cravers’ get a little giddy over. But such is the early release of the latest windsurfing kit and the density of the year’s test schedule, that there is no option but to get the kit tried and tested as soon as it is available. Luckily we scored it and were blessed with the test conditions and able to gain a real impression of the qualities of these boards and sails. And the pickings are rich this year…
If you’ve been windsurfing … and more importantly wave sailing for a decade or so, try casting your mind back to recall the size of the board(s) in your wave quiver 10 years ago. For most, the go-to size wave board would have been an 85L, particularly if your ‘quiver’ could only stretch to one board! With an 85L you could just about stretch your possible wind range to cover any eventuality. Push the boat out to 2 boards however, and most soon traded their 85L in for a large 90L+ bog-out beast, complimented by a 75L high wind weapon. Two boards to cover an even wider wind range – no brainer. In doing the swap, what actually happened is that you found yourself using the 90L+ board most often as the conditions were rarely quite right for your preferred smaller board. Instead, your treasured little wave machine seemed to catch more dust than waves, staying tucked away in its board bag. And what is more, the large board really did feel like a beast on the wave, returning only half the amount of fun as you recall having on the 85L board you traded in! Well, help is on hand.
Today, the top end control and carving versatility of these 80L boards makes them simply fantastic to use on a wave face as the wind turns on, easily a match for boards of around 75L from 5-10 years ago. But the crucial point is that they all possess the added benefit of more volume than that old wave nugget you lovingly kept in its bag, and brought out for an airing once in a blue moon.
Should the wind drop and the power become fickle, (which, lets face it, happens with frustrating regularity during sessions in the UK), these new boards are still useful, saving the time, energy and the heartache of changing. Most wave sailors could now get away with one of these boards as their one board only solution, complimenting it with a bigger board (that perform stunningly now as well by the way … see last month’s test) if they can rub the extra pennies together.
As with the 90L wave board test last month, there is a real mix of performances and set-ups once again in this smaller group. The Tabou and JP stand out as proper rocket ships, with a speed and liveliness that will provide bags of potential in clean cross-off conditions. But change their set-up and you can dramatically alter their feel, making them more applicable for real world cross-on mush. The two Quads of Fanatic and Starboard are both right at the top of their game, providing a truly connected feel and stunning rail-to-rail response, but both thriving on being properly powered to really make best use of their potential. The Severne Nuevo was the only twinzer in the group and brought with it the benefits of a loose sliding nature, without the typical downside of two fins such as struggling to get going or drive upwind. That leaves us with two – the RRD and the Quatro. Both were liked by all who tried them, and for similar reasons. The ability to get going early, feel compact and controllable underfoot, yet lively and inspiring in response during manoeuvres, brought these two boards to the fore. There are plenty of exceptional wave boards out there today, so get out there and get inspired to push your boundaries.
This test was conducted on UK shores, in everything from cross-offshore port tack to cross-onshore starboard tack winds. With autumn approaching we’ve had a few good ground swells, pushing fun sized waves in at very accessible locations, making conditions ideal for testing. It has meant we’ve been able to get a true sense of the real world performance of these boards and sails in dealing with typical
UK frontal patterns.
THE LINE UP