GA IQ FREE WS 10’7” 2017 REVIEW
Once branded as Vandal, the IQ Free range of inflatable SUPs has now been elevated to exhibit GA branding. Produced in the brand’s new Double Rail Structure (DRS), it is combined with a double layer bottom stringer and single layer top stringer, to maximise the board’s stiffness. On the underside there are a couple of moulded thruster fins to compliment the two 10” US boxes for the rear and central fin. With clean graphics, padded central handle and soft multi-coloured deckpad, the GA has quite a rounded conventional outline, more akin to a surf-board than a wide-bodied entry-level windsurf platform. Supplied with a “tall high pressure pump designed for ease of use”, a couple of dolphin-style plastic fins, and a heavy-duty backpack and repair kit, the IQ Free is the complete package, and inflated easily to the recommended 15 P.S.I.
“You can now transform your inflatable SUP into a perfect windsurfing beginner’s board with the FREE windSUP option! The windSUP’s come with an included centre fin option which allows the user to greatly improve stability and control for windsurfing.”
Used for paddling, the IQ Free seems to sit a little lower in the water than many here, yet remains stable and tracks very well thanks to the addition of the thruster fins in the tail. The EVA deck is soft and comfortable underfoot, its longitudinal contours providing good traction without inflicting pins-and-needles after long periods of use. In transition it is noticeable how narrow the IQ’s tail is, feeling quite tippy as you step back. Get the balance right however and the tapered tail can be used to great affect, whipping the board around nicely. The same can be felt when using the board in windsurfing mode. It tracks well, can point close to the wind and holds its course through gusts. As the wind increases, stepping back towards the narrower tail helps to maintain control whilst putting more effort through the tail engages the three fins and maintains directional stability. A good all-rounder, it is more technical to use than some of the more entry-level boards in the group, yet remains well within the scope of light to medium weight riders and offers plenty of performance to explore. One real plus we found to the Free was that when used by youngsters with sails of 1.5m and smaller, the tail fin can be removed, leaving the side fins to provide ample directional stability. In transition though, the removal of the rearward fin helped the small sail to influence the back of the board and complete the turn – particularly noticeable during the tack in powered conditions. It is certainly a consideration if you intend to use the board to teach the younger members of your family.
The IQ Free is a well thought out and finished product, with real attention to detail in its features. One of the all-rounders in the group, it performs well in both windsurfing and paddling mode, displaying an excellent balance between directional stability and manoeuvrability.
Other boards in this test: