FANATIC FREEWAVE STB TE 95L 2018 TEST REVIEW
Introduced last year and based largely on the success of the class-defining Stubby concept, the STB takes centre-stage in the freewave category for Fanatic this year, the brand ceasing to produce their popular classic FreeWave designs. Somewhat boxy in appearance with its parallel rails, diamond nose and double diamond tail, it is nonetheless quite conventional in length and rocker-line (said to improve control and comfort), before the fittings and rider stance are placed right on the tail of the board to increase manoeuvrability. Available in three different constructions, it is tested here in TE technology and as with the TXTR version, comes with a thruster fin set up. The standard Biax Fibre / Full PVC Sandwich LF version is supplied with a single central fin, but retains the side slot-boxes so that it can be set up as a thruster if desired. Coming complete with the brand’s dual density deck pads and Premium straps, it must have been a big decision to move away from the heritage of the longstanding FreeWave boards, so has the wager paid off?
“A slightly longer, faster, more bump & jump oriented version of our Stubby TE, the FreeWave STB is pure dynamite and the start of a new era for the FreeWave line. Guaranteed easy wave performance, the board flies over any kind of surface like a missile. Available in sizes 85, 95, 105, plus the brand new 115L, you can choose between the super high-end TeXtreme® construction and the affordable Biax Fibre Version. The FreeWave STB is going to be your new favourite toy!”
Balanced and secure underfoot from the off, the FreeWave actively releases as soon as power is transferred, requiring little technical encouragement from the rider. The wide tail provides plenty of stability and margin for error as you move your stance rearwards, allowing the board to carry a 6.0m sail easily. Accelerating quickly, it reaches an excellent top speed, feeling lively yet controlled at all times, and covering distance on every point of sail in comfort. The fittings on the STB are excellent, the straps and deck pads providing a dependable connection, whilst the three fins offer ample feedback to push against. We did try the Fanatic with outboard straps and a more upright fin, and whilst it certainly didn’t feel out of place (keeping up with all bar one in the group) we couldn’t help but think we were asking the wrong questions of the STB. Like asking a rally car to enter a drag race. Back with inboard straps, it’s a great board for charging around a coastal environment on, and can fulfil the bump-and-jump role perfectly. It soars over broken water as if immune to any resultant turbulence, maintaining its speed and control to hit ramps confidently for aerial antics. Transitions are another real strong point for the STB, entering with speed before the thin rails in the tail take hold and help to redirect sharply. The extra width in the nose and tail then provide the stability once more to help preserve speed and composure upon exit. The same can be said in waves, the STB proving to be a truly accomplished platform for making the most of vanilla conditions, or serving as the tutor to the uninitiated.
Whilst perhaps not the most eye-catching or harmonious looking board ever seen, the FreeWave STB from Fanatic is a true performer, striking an enchanted balance of speed, control and response that will endear it to many.
Other sails in this test: