FOIL BOARD TEST 2021 : NEWFOUND VERSATILITY
The pace of development in the foiling world continues to grab the headlines more than any other discipline in the watersports industry. And with the foils evolving, providing improved performance levels and taking new directions, so too can the conduit that conveys the foil’s sensations – the board. Long gone (thankfully) are the days when any old second-hand slalom board with a Deep Tuttle box is deemed fit for purpose, or the woeful misconception that the board’s design doesn’t really matter. “It’s in the air when you’re foiling anyway, so how can it matter?” is a comment we remember hearing in the not-too-distant past, a more misguided statement or notion we are struggling to remember!
EDITOR: TRIS BEST // SECOND TESTERS: MAURIN ROTTENWALTER, JOE NORTH, SCOTT STALLMAN // TEST LOCATION: PORTLAND HARBOUR // PHOTOS: BRYONY WEBB
There are six boards on test here. Six very different foiling platforms that, in satisfying the magazine’s brief for this test, in their own individual way, demonstrate the true versatility available on the consumer marketplace today. And the reason for the diversity? The simple answer can be found by looking at the diversity in the foils available today … and the emergence of a growing foil sport – wing surfing. If you haven’t tried winging yet, but are in the market for a foil board, perhaps it’s worth considering that you might wish to try it in the future? Half the boards here are wind foiling specific and bear no relevance, whilst the other half offer the chance to change disciplines. Whichever path you choose to go down, it’s worth also considering the foil you intend to partner with the board. Some boards here champion the adaptability to compliment very different foil types and styles, whereas other boards are quite foil critical. If you have a foil already, please do take note as we mention compatibility in the individual writeups!
Starting with the most directionally focussed in the group, the Starboard Foil Freeride 150 is a big board that can cover big distances and do so in comfort and grace. Much like a conventional freerace or slalom board demands the right fin, the Foil Freeride needs a foil that can keep pace with it and drive it sufficiently. The Alien from Severne is steadfastly wind foiling only (to adhere to the brand’s windsurfing-centric mantra), offering an ease of use and performance range that will endear it to a real cross-section of user abilities. The new Wizard from Slingshot is simply a bundle of energy – short, compact and alive under your feet. If you’re looking for a board to maximise your wind-foiling manoeuvre potential, this firecracker has got to be on your list of contenders. Onto the foiling crossover boards, and we start with the JP FreeFoil – a user-friendly wind foiling all-rounder that has been refined for 2021 to give it the added bonus of dabbling in wing foiling. It is tangibly an afterthought in some respects, yet will do the job admirably for the initial winging stages. Tabou’s Magic Carpet has real purpose and ability in both wind foiling and wing foiling, with the additional card up its sleeve of SUP foiling. Heavy in its MTE construction here, the lighter TEAM edition could (and should) be close to the real deal. That leaves the surprise package of the test – the Fanatic Bee 7’8”. A surf-specific SUP in appearance, this board really could be the one-board solution for those runs to the coast. Wind foiling or wing foiling, it was user-friendly, but most of all fun underfoot, irrespective of the chosen discipline at the time, with the option to be used as a surf SUP, SUP foil or windsurfing SUP too. A real reminder that looks can always deceive and if this is a taste of the versatility that foiling can bring to the party, then the future is as bright as the Bee’s paintjob!
THE LINE UP