JP FREESTYLE WAVE PRO 102L 2017 TEST REVIEW
The self-professed original crossover contender, the Freestyle Wave series from JP hasn’t been changed for 2017, bar a graphic tune up. The 102 is the second largest of a five board line-up and comes available in either Pro or Full Wood Sandwich construction. The extra charge for the Pro version (over and above the paint job) is the fact that the 102 now comes complete with resin transfer moulded side fins, reducing weight and improving flex performance. Long and narrow, it has a somewhat conventional appearance compared to others in the group, tapering smoothly from a low pointed nose to a narrow rounded tail shape. With a domed deck throughout, its rails are thinned right down, whilst the front outboard footstrap options are more outboard than on most. Fittings and finish are as you’d expect of the JP brand, the strap’s anti-twist system working well and the dual density deck pads providing noticeable padding and comfort under the heel.
“The Freestyle Waves also qualify as JP’s fastest wave boards, suited for advanced riders with only little wave experience or for heavier riders or for those who sail in varying conditions. Due to their speed it is easy to accelerate to ‘your’ perfect section of the onshore wave or side shore roller.”
As we found with last year’s 102, the JP is supplied with a lot of fin area. Using the 27cm central fin with the two 10cm side fins, there is plenty of traction available and helps the board to rise up onto the water’s surface very easily. It feels solid and planted underfoot, not really releasing or flying on its fin, but accelerating to a good top speed nonetheless. With such a large amount of traction, it’s not surprising that the JP tracks upwind very well – it’s as if the board is influenced by a tractor beam, pulling it upwind unnaturally. Experimenting with the fins a little is well worthwhile – replacing the side-fins with blanks and the 102 provides more conventional feedback, flying on its fin when properly powered. Returning the side-fins into the mix and replacing the central fin with a 21cm foil and it feels much looser, ready to be put on its rails. There is a real versatility to the board, its stance and response adapting to the different set ups. And yet, whichever option you choose there are certain endearing features to the board’s character that are consistent throughout. Firstly, it offers a perfect balance between response and control, captivating the experienced pilot whilst forgiving enough for the progressing rider. It feels alert and responsive, and transitions smoothly as pressure shifted from heel to toe, the narrow tail and tapered rails gripping intuitively. Secondly, it travels through troubled water with near impunity, encouraging the rider to keep the pedal to the metal and push more power into the board. And with both control and speed, the FSW is a wonderful advocate for a bump and jump theatre.
The JP is a versatile performer, its conventional feel providing ease and accessibility to its high-end nature. Play with the fin set up to really discover its potential.
Other sails in this test: