RRD FREESTYLE WAVE V4 LTD 104L 2017 TEST REVIEW
The Freestyle Wave has been a true benchmark series for RRD over the years and has been completely refreshed for 2017. Now in its fourth generation, it comes in four sizes (this 104 being the largest on offer), each available in two constructions. Benefiting from advances in outline seen in the Wave Cult series, it adopts the brand’s ‘cut off tail and nose’ (or COTAN) concept, with a distinctive squared off nose for reduced swing-weight and a more compact nature. The board’s volume is placed forward, with chunky shoulders to help trim in both planing and non-planing conditions, whilst the tail is pulled in, its rails thinned down to assist in grip and wave-riding potential. Supplied with 32cm MFC fin, the 104 nonetheless comes with side-fin boxes allowing for a thruster fin set-up for use in a true wave environment. With its bright graphics, Da Kine velcro straps and MFC fin, the RRD is well finished, the striped pattern embossed in the non-slip becoming a brand trademark.
“We have re-designed the Freestyle Wave range adding to this Version 4 a COTAN touch on the nose. The new outline with Cut Out Nose helps to make this new shape even more compact than the previous version. This feature combined with the refined and thinner rails on the tail and the new thruster fins set-up make those new shapes much more free, alive and responsive to rider’s input no matter if ripping on waves, boosting a gybe or pulling out some trick.”
On the water, the Freestyle Wave V4 is one of the easiest boards in the group to release and get going. It requires little encouragement (or even turning off the wind!) before jumping out of the blocks as power is delivered. Once up and going, it is easy to find the straps, the dome in the deck making the 104 feel supremely comfortable underfoot, whilst the deckpads provide excellent padded connection. With the 32cm fin supplied in place, it provides plenty of feedback with which to push against when properly powered, the board accelerating to a good top speed. The RRD’s real trump card however is its smooth and forgiving temperament. Even in the harshest seas, it parts troubled water in a manner that Moses would be proud of, giving the rider the confidence to keep driving or adopt a more relaxed upright stance. And it is from this easy upright stance that the FSW’s passive, forgiving character can really be exploited. With its narrow tail and high nose position on the water, the FSW’s shoulders keep clear of any danger whilst the rails in the tail grip smoothly, responding silkily to changes in pressure and willingly adopting any carving radius. It’s a dream tutor for the progressing intermediate, keeping speed effortlessly through the turn and providing plenty of stability during the exit in order to finish the turn off. We were also supplied with the thruster conversion kit for the FSW – a 21cm central fin with 11cm side fins. Making it instantly looser, its straight-line drive was affected, yet any loss in early planing potential seemed minimal. Whilst not transforming the 104 into a dedicated wave-shedding machine, in our opinion the option is a fun addition, the extra looseness and response helping to push the board tighter into the pocket of small waves, and keep speed through the top turn.
Early planing and supremely comfortable, the FSW has an easy passive character, always controlled and playful, suiting any environment. The ideal tutor for intermediate progression, it becomes much looser as a thruster to flirt with vanilla wave breaks.
Other sails in this test: