FANATIC VIPER AIR 315 REVIEW
The Viper Air is named after Fanatic’s longstanding entry-level board, giving an idea of its intended market. There are two sizes available – the largest coming in at 11’0” and packing in 358L, or this 9’10” version. There is also the Ripper Air Windsurf (8’10” / 29”), designed specifically for kids, using a slightly different construction method on the rails to make the board lighter and more manageable.
“Without a doubt the Viper Air is the most desirable inflatable WindSUP ever. Lighter and tougher than traditional boards, it’s the ideal watersports toy. Pure fun for the whole family, schools and clubs. Windsurf enthusiasts and SUP lovers are equally stoked about the diversity the Viper Air has to offer. With years of experience in building the best entry level windsurf boards, we made sure that the Viper Air is spiced with similar characteristics; optimum glide, stable platform, great turning potential and all round manoeuvrability. For super easy transportation, we’ve packed the Viper Air in our premium Wheely Backpack with padded straps, belly belt and compartments to have all the accessories in place, including our new Fanatic Power Pump.”
The Viper Air is constructed from what Fanatic are calling their “high quality double layer technology”, resulting in three material layers in the rail to ensure improved stiffness and durability. On the deck the Viper is largely covered with the diamond-grooved deckpad, providing excellent traction, leaving enough room for a deck net on the nose. With three padded-webbing handles incorporated, the Viper Air is easy to carry individually or in pairs and comes complete with a wheeled-backpack bag, Fanatic’s power pump, a repair kit and two identical plastic US box fins.
Packing 6” in thickness and 33.5” in width, the Viper Air is an incredibly stable and dependable board underfoot, even for the larger, clumsier pilot. It sits high on the water’s surface and glides very well, converting any power provided (either via paddle or sail) effortlessly into forward motion. In windsurfing mode, it was a pleasure to use in light marginal winds, feeling relatively compact and manoeuvrable, whilst the extra width (and volume) in the tail makes it very forgiving as you step back. Although it won’t win any races to windward, the central fin helps it track admirably and makes the Viper Air perfectly applicable as an entry-level tutor. As the wind increased and we pushed more power into the Viper Air, it accelerates and planes yet doesn’t really feel at home, the rounded rails gripping the water and causing drag whilst the board’s thickness makes it feel corky and vulnerable in choppy seas. Instead, the Viper Air’s strength is in light winds where its buoyant yet compact nature make it fun for the whole family in both paddle and windsurf guises – from teaching and cruising to being the dream light-wind freestyle platform.
Other boards in this test: