STARBOARD ATOM 130L CARBON 2015 TEST REVIEW
The 130 is the smallest of the three boards new to the Atom IQ line up for this season. Tested in Carbon construction here, it is also available in the brand’s more affordable Tufskin layup and reverts to adopting Starboard’s preferred Tuttle Box to house the 44cm G10 Drake Freeride Power fin supplied. Incorporating two rows of footstrap options as opposed to three given in the other Atom IQ sizes, the 130 nevertheless offers enough tuning options to account for most riding styles.
“As freemove boards, [the Atom IQ’s] are designed to be exciting and fast in the straight line yet highly maneuverable and aggressive with a widest wind-range and control. Efficient in light winds like a wide board 15 liters bigger, as maneuverable and controllable as a board with 15 liters less. “Plane big, gybe small. And with the right tuning, you get a wind range that covers three classic freeride boards.”
Easy and stable at rest, the Atom 130’s wide shoulders and flat deck (forward of the straps) provide good weight carrying capacity, enabling it to partner a 9.0m without issue. Typical of this new breed of wide-thin style boards, the Atom does benefit from being pushed deep off the wind to encourage release. The technique does take a bit of getting used to, particularly for less experienced riders who have to battle with the thought of losing too much ground downwind in the first place. Once released however, the Atom accelerates smoothly to a good top speed, the board’s shoulders sitting high above the water, whilst the fin supplied offers ample traction when used with an 8.0m sail and smaller. Feeling lively and loose for a board of this size, the Atom is significantly smaller and narrower in the tail than others here, going some way to explaining why it needs to be stuffed off the wind to release and doesn’t cruise through lulls as easily as others. The advantages of the narrow tail become very apparent once comfortably powered though. The 130 has a life and energy about it that belies its size, the shape of the deck under the back strap allowing the rider to really sense feedback from the fin – a type of connection more commonly associated with a much smaller board. This connection, along with the board’s captivating spirit, can’t help but inspire the rider to try new manoeuvres, and the Atom responds with good grip and smooth glide through the arc of a gybe. It displayed real versatility, keeping its speed round a long steady arc or equally happy to be driven into a tight corner with a forceful style. We were also impressed with the Atom’s response when loaded with an efficient freerace sail in a blow. Rising up to sit high on the fin, it could be pushed to a very respectable top speed, without losing its manners and practicality should the conditions become too challenging.
The Atom 130 can carry large sails with ease, but has the life, handling and manners of a much smaller board. A great tutor for the intermediate it has the performance to captivate the experienced rider alike.
Other sails in this test: