RRD FIRESTORM V4 LTD 123L 2017 TEST REVIEW
The Firestorm is now in its fourth generation, yet has only undergone the slightest design refinements for the new season. Keeping the three sizes current in the range, the so-called ‘Toro tail’ (with its wider raised deck and narrowed hull), has been moved further back, making it easier to apply pressure to the fin through the back foot. Comparing it to the brand’s V7 X-Fire slalom program, the Firestorm retains the rocker-line, hull shape and volume distribution yet has a narrower outline in the tail and mid-section, said to reduce tail-lift and improve comfort. The bottom shape of the V4 also seems to have been modified slightly, looking back at our measurements taken on its predecessor, the V3, last year. Double concaves and vee make an appearance in the stern whereas the board was flat in the tail last year. Interestingly, the literature for the V4 is nigh on identical to the previous incarnation – RRD keen to point out that the nature of the Firestorm’s ride can be altered dramatically by the position of the straps, from freeride use with inboard straps, to its “top speed setting” with outboard positions. Whether you opt for the Ltd or Wood version, the Firestorm comes complete with Da Kine Velcro straps and an MFC KPR G10 fin.
“48 months of development, over 25 prototype boards and over 300 hours of testing time in the water have not managed to improve the magic mix of the V1 and V2 Firestorm shapes. Then we have started to re-consider the program of use and we have understood that when you choose a new board around the program of “fast freeriding” the most important parameter is SPEED. So the whole concept of creating a 30% faster board whilst keeping early planing and control have given life to a completely new line of Firestorm boards: the VERSION 4.”
On the water the Firestorm has a familiar classically freerace feel, riding high out of the water and providing direct connection with the fin. It likes a committed stance from the off and responds well as soon as power is supplied, accelerating crisply and feeling directionally very stable underfoot. It covers distance with ease, finding an extra gear in gusts and thriving on being partnered with a slippery, forward-pulling sail. Being so high and buoyant out of the water, it demands a locked-in riding style and doesn’t really respond to subtle alterations in foot pressure for changes in direction. Instead – hook in, hold on and charge about the bay at speed. For such a high stance, the ride is remarkably cushioned and forgiving, the board remaining pinned to the water’s surface throughout, masking over the heavy impact and enabling the rider to keep the hammer down at all times. Blasting from A to B in comfort is one thing, but the Firestorm saves its extra trump card for the corners. Whilst far from instantaneous in response when in blasting mode, the RRD is a marvel in cornering when pushed into a gybe, biting beautifully on its rear rail and providing so much confidence to stamp and pivot it around. A perfect compliment to the Firemove in the RRD range – if you’re looking for more blasting range with eye-sucking cornering at the end of a run, the Firestorm is right up there.
With a high ‘ankle-dry’ blasting stance, coupled with immense grip for tight cornering, the Firestorm continues to impress. Requiring a more committed stance than the Firemove, it is nonetheless easy to use, giving room and breathing space for the progressing rider if required.
Other sails in this test: