WAVE V5 LTD 104L
2019 TEST REVIEW.
The fifth generation of Freestyle Waves was released by RRD last season, the designs remaining current for 2019. It sees the introduction of a new premium technology – Black Ribbon, using a full wrap of biaxial carbon around the board, to provide the lightest result with a distinct black polished finish on the hull. This no-compromise construction comes at a similarly pitched price, so we’re testing the 104 here in the brand’s middle construction, LTD, using biaxial carbon on the deck and glass on the hull. The last construction option is LTE, which uses a full wood laminate wrap combined with glass to provide a “light and tough” price-pointed alternative. In addition to the new material choices, there have been some seismic changes within the RRD ranks, restructuring the entire range to fit within four categories – the Pro Line, Free Line (where the FSW neatly sits), Start Line and Re-Start Line. There are also two new sizes added at both ends of the spectrum (78 and 114, available solely in LTD and Black Ribbon) to increase the range and appeal of the brand’s historically most successful series. Yet, looking at the measurements of the 104 and comparing them to the V4 we tested a couple of years ago, there seems little dimensional difference between the two. For 2019 the V5 comes supplied with Dakine Velcro straps, and a 30 cm GRP fin designed and produced by K4, yet coloured in orange for RRD rather than the customary yellow.
“The rocker is straight and fast in the mid/rear section. The volume displacement has less volume on the tail and more volume on the nose, to keep the same amazingly well balanced board in both planing and non-planing conditions.”
Directionally very stable as soon as you step on, the 104’s magic is discovered almost the instant power is supplied – it simply yearns to get planing! Requiring little technical input or encouragement, it accelerates smoothly and graciously, providing the time and stability for the rider to locate the straps. Undoubtedly one of the earliest and easiest to release, it will flatter the more nervous passenger, whilst providing the dependency for the experienced to push themselves in challenging environments. Incorporating inboard and outboard straps as standard, whichever are opted for, the rider’s stance is still very much focussed around the centreline, placing them in a comfortable, upright and manoeuvre-oriented stance. If you try to load the 104 with a powerful, efficient sail and drive it through the feet, you’ll find the stance uncomfortable and performance somewhat lacking. The 104 isn’t a slouch, but it reaches a limit and simply won’t be pushed to accelerate further. Instead, relax into a more upright posture and let the board do the work. The vee in the rear section of the hull does a wonderful job in ironing out any impact as it passes stoically over the water’s surface, complimented by the comfort provided by the straps and pads. And in the gybe the RRD continues to impress with its effortlessness, gripping almost telepathically and retaining its speed regardless, the narrow rounded tail really helping the rider to sense the level of bite throughout. Taking the 104 to a wave riding spot, we thought this carving competence would translate well, yet we have to confess we were left wanting, comparing it to some of the more freewave biased designs in the group. Whilst capable of retaining speed and riding in cross or cross-off conditions, we found we really had to concentrate through the turn in cross-onshore waves, pushing tentatively so as to not stall on the rail. Much of the RRD’s innate fluency comes from its long rocker flat, which ultimately gets shown up in a demanding wave arena, the thruster fin option doing little to combat the over-riding influence of the board’s profile.
One of the easiest boards of this size that you’ll ever find to sail, the Freestyle Wave provides a high-wind freeride / bump-and-jump master-class, with an early planing, riding comfort and gybing prowess that can’t help but be enjoyed.
Other sails in this test: