THE NEW ALL-ROUNDER
95L Wave Board Test 2015
The 95L wave board has come a long way in the last 5 years. There is currently more variety of shape and style, fin count and thickness than there has ever been.
This test was originally published in the November/December 2014 issue.
As with the 4.7 sails tested last month, where there were “no lemons”, it really is the case with these boards too. Despite the variety, making a decision what to try and what to buy is not as complicated as you might think. All of the boards featured in this category are from just one of each manufacturers range, as most have “side shore” or “real world” billings to separate them. That’s enough to narrow down any initial search; but I’ll come back to that a bit later. Our reliable venue of El Medano in Tenerife, like most of the Canary Islands, didn’t have its usual relentlessly windy summer. We did however get on the water on 10 days out of 14 and mostly with 5.3 and 95L combinations; very ‘Real World’ conditions and enough to provide a very clear picture of what worked best and excited the riders the most.
The Line Up
The group included some thrusters (Fanatic, Quatro), some quads (Goya, RRD and Starboard) and some five box offerings (Tabou, Simmer and JP). Of these, the Tabou was the only board to come complete with 5 fins to get you going in both thruster and quad set-ups. The Simmer comes as a quad so you merely need to add a center fin, and the JP as a thruster requiring a rear quad pair. If adaptability and experimentation is your thing you will find plenty to keep you busy with these. But if its plug’n’play and instant gratification as top of your list then the dedicated quads (Goya, Starboard) and thrusters (Quatro and Fanatic) have the least adjustment of all. Breaking these boards out onto the ocean for the first time the test team makes a conscious effort to not think about any of the boards configurations at all. The questions we ask are: Does it require a lot of rider effort? How comfortable over chop is it? Any idiosyncrasies? Does it feel big or small? As previously mentioned, you cannot judge a sail by batten count alone and you cannot judge a board by fin count or volume either. Calling them a “big” wave board is wrong also as there are dozens of larger specialist boards available up to 120L that can be just the thing if you top 100kg. So the role of the 95 has changed to become more of an average size sailors go to board for conditions from float and ride through to gusty, squally strong winds and water conditions from little ankle snappers to double mast monsters. They find themselves really carrying a wider range of sail sizes than most other boards. Fifteen years ago the choice in boards like this was miniscule. Now we have the ultimate Christmas selection box to choose from, and you can be safe in the knowledge that all of the boards in this set are capable enough to deal with more challenges than most of us are ever likely to give them.
Are they any fun? Oh Yes with a capital Y, every board here has slightly different attributes and is the result of differing approaches to similar design briefs but we will detail the broad results we found below. The earliest planing in order were the Tabou Pocket 94L, Fanatic Tri Wave 95L and JP Thruster Quad 93L. Most comfortable for heavier riders – JP, Fanatic, Tabou. Most comfortable ride – Simmer Style, JP, Tabou. Smallest feeling boards, Starboard Quad, Goya Custom Quad, Quatro Sphere (slightly longer but narrower so feels like a smaller board).
Of course there are lots more to each of these boards as you will discover over the coming pages. Returning to the labels, side shore and onshore, we can only comment on the side-onshore performance because that’s what we had. The Boards getting the most out of a little were the Tabou, Simmer, JP and Fanatic. The RRD Cult Quad also proved itself as a capable all-rounder too. Boards that just needed a bit more power from the rig or the conditions were the Quatro, Starboard, and Goya. This was interesting as we know the Goya Quad well and it can be one of the most invisible feeling boards to ride. A clear favorite from last year’s test and our benchmark standard bearer here. This showed how lighter the conditions were for this year’s test as just 3 or 4 knots more and every board here would be right in their power band. This group really does prove that the best time ever to be a windsurfer is now. Make the most of it, go out and demo some at the very least. This size has become so versatile that it could easily be your most used board. Enjoy. JDV
Special thanks to the Tenerife Windsurf Solution (TWS) centre for hosting us – the best demo/hire centre in the world and I Love Meet and Greet Airport Valet Parking Services. The Principal Test Team were Chris Rainbow, Julian Da Vall, Brian McDowell