FANATIC FALCON SLALOM TE 114L 2018 TEST REVIEW
The Falcon Slalom range of six boards remains unaltered for 2018, bar a new 98 litre version replacing the 99. They are all produced in the brand’s ‘Team Edition’ construction, using their premium Biax Carbon sandwich construction, described as providing the “perfect weight-stiffness ratio as a result of [the cloth’s] very fine weave and dynamic flex”. Whilst the two smaller sizes have a carbon deck and composite hull for better shock absorption, this 114 (as with its larger siblings) has a full carbon deck and hull for maximum stiffness and response. Tested last season, we were taken by the 114’s flighty electric nature, riding efficiently right over the surface of the water, yet remaining comfortable and manageable underfoot. It has a clean and uncomplicated design, with smaller more straightforward cutouts than many here, a recessed deck around the mast track and comes supplied with the brand’s well-established ‘Premium’ straps. The deckpads are varied throughout the Falcon range – thicker on the smaller siblings and thinner on the larger to provide more feedback and connection. Whilst the 129 and 136 are designated as ‘foil ready’, this 114 is rightly classed as a little too small for any such crossover usage.
“The Fanatic Falcons are zero compromise racing machines with exceptionally fast acceleration. Their insane top speeds are complemented with full control at all times.”
Partnered with a large 8.0m plus sail, the Falcon 114 remains one of the most potent weapons in this group in marginal winds. It releases from the water at the slightest whiff of power being delivered and accelerates with frenzied interest, feeling alert and excited underfoot. It can’t help but provoke response, engaging the rider from the off and really making them feel connected with everything around them. It can make sailing in variable winds feel thrilling and enjoyable, whilst other sailors seem to be wallowing. And yet the Falcon is by no means a handful, the footstraps are easy to locate whilst the fittings, the gradual dome to the deck and its natural stance make it both comfortable and easy to sail well. It sits high on the water’s surface, dancing over chop as it bestows the rider with lots of connection and feedback with the fin. And this is where the Falcon really shows its qualities – it is superbly tuneable and rewards the rider with feel and response as they tinker with the settings. We didn’t get a chance to use the Falcon with the North Warp, but can vouch for the fact that it works well with race sails from other brands, right through to no-cam freerace sails; you just need to spend some time tuning. Change the fin size, alter the deckplate position, or the trim of the sail and the Falcon will let you know just what it thinks. It is a precise machine (a vocal mistress if you like), that wants to be treated sweetly, and if you do so it will purr at the top of its lungs! In challenging seas, the 114 does require concentration from the pilot and prefers to be dominated – give it any chance of misbehaving and it will take it. But pin it down with power and commitment and it responds with a surprising amount of control. It needs to be bossed, but do so and it will flatter you with poise and performance. This is the same in the gybe – easy to turn in, the Falcon will bite willingly, yet really responds and drives through the corner the more the rider puts in.
The Falcon 114 remains a potent and lively rocket ship, whose flighty spirited nature is a match for any board in marginal to powered conditions. Fine tune and command it when the conditions turn on and the control is always there to compliment the performance.
Other sails in this test:
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