FANATIC FREEWAVE STB TE 105L 2017 TEST REVIEW
With the positive reception and success of their ‘Stubby’ compact wave board, it was simply the natural progression for Fanatic to extend the concept into the crossover domain. The FreeWave STB line-up of three sits alongside their popular and established FreeWave series, which itself remains unchanged for the new season. The 105 tested here is the largest of the three and, as with its smaller siblings, is available in both TE construction and Fanatic’s top end Textreme technology. Shorter and narrower than many in the group, like the Stubby it possesses a straighter outline with parallel rails, said to reduce drag and therefore increase speed. The nose is short and wide, to mitigate swing weight and maximise volume efficiency for early planing and stability; whilst the tail is wide yet thin, for ease and grip in the turns. The rider’s stance is moved right to the back of the board, the central fin positioned closer to the tail than we’ve seen on any board. And because of the use of a Power box, the single back strap plugs have to be moved forward, promoting a narrow stance. As such, be prepared to tweak the position of the brand’s Premium straps (which we have to say, along with Fanatic’s other fittings, are some of the best around), moving the front straps further forward if required.
“Last season we introduced the Stubby. This year we took our development a step further and crossed it with elements of the FreeWave into this unbelievable hybrid of pure joy! Evolving ideas with complementing concepts means that the FreeWave STB doesn’t only look hot, it’s a hot performer that you’re just going to love!”
Short and compact, the FreeWave STB 105 is very stable and easy at rest, tracking well and feeling balanced underfoot. Deliver power and it releases onto the plane in an instant – certainly one of the earliest planing in the group. The footstraps are easy to locate, encouraging an upright stance, the board controlled yet active at all times. It’s not necessarily one of the fastest in the group, preferring a more manoeuvre-oriented style of riding rather than locked in and blasting … yet with the width in the tail, it seems to glide through lulls as if it’s entirely immune to any drop in power. This low planing threshold becomes even more apparent and useful in marginal wind wave sailing, where the FreeWave became known as a bit of a secret weapon. Charging upwind as if possessed, once on the wave it can pivot on its tail, carving the tightest turn to be redirected up a face – great for having fun when the conditions could be dismissed as forgetful. The 105 bites and carries its speed, the wide shoulders and square nose providing the surface area to rebound purposefully off the white water. As the wind increases, the 105 remains planted and connected with the water. Its control is always there, yet its wide tail demands that it’s driven with a more forceful style to keep it on its rail through the turn. In effect, we’d be changing down board size sooner, onto an 80-85L wave board. It is for this reason we feel that Fanatic have left their classic FreeWave shapes in the range rather than replacing them entirely with these new stubby versions. For those that like a new challenging back foot biased style of manoeuvre riding, this 105 is a lot of fun. For everyone else the FreeWave 106 tested last year is still every bit worthy of note.
Unique in feel, the FreeWave STB offers incredible early planing ease combined with a low planing threshold, to rip apart those ‘less than ideal’ days that we are all too often subjected to.
Other sails in this test: