STARBOARD ATOM IQ 100L CARBON 2015 TEST REVIEW
For 2015, the Atom IQ range has been extended to include three larger sizes, whilst the existing boards (including this 100L version), remain unchanged. Available in Tufskin instead of Technora construction this year, we test the lighter carbon model here, complete with its new G10 fin.
“The original ultra-slim board with a huge wind range. As freemove boards, the Atom IQs are designed to be exciting and fast in the straight line yet highly manoeuvrable and aggressive with the widest wind-range and control. Plane big, gybe small: efficient in light winds like a wide board 15 litres bigger; as manoeuvrable and controllable as a board with 15 litres less. With the right tuning, you get a wind range that covers three classic freeride boards.”
On the water, the Atom IQ delivers such a stunning performance that we are struggling to identify a type of rider that wouldn’t get on with it. Early planing, it accelerates smoothly yet rapidly, exhibiting a perfect balance of excitement and control. It can sit there, happily cruising along at half speed, providing an easy passive ride so as to not unnerve the intermediate sailor. But plug an efficient sail in to load the Atom and it simply devours the power, sitting high on the water and skipping over chop. It seems to have a limitless top speed, much like a slalom board … but unlike a slalom board, you can throttle back, stand upright and instantly regain control if you ever feel it is getting away from you. This mix of straight-line potential and control would, in our opinion, make the Atom pure dynamite for amateur competition, where so many are ultimately let down by their ability to control their hard-railed slalom guns in severe conditions or around the corners. The Atom could keep up with most on the straights, and would provide the stability and user-friendliness to get round a gybe radius of the rider’s choosing.
The rails are thin and bite well whilst the tail’s width enables the board to retain speed and cruise through an arc to finish the turn off if the power is released prematurely. Our only slight niggle with the Atom is the fin. Whilst an improvement on the version supplied with the board last year, we still found it quite nervous, slipping easily if loaded too aggressively. Instead, we found the Atom rewards good technique, using the board’s leeward rail rather than relying solely on the fin, particularly when pushing hard upwind. If the fin did lose traction it was very easy to recover, pulling the board’s tail back underneath you, although partner the board with a more performance oriented fin and the Atom’s abilities are extended further!
The Atom IQ 100 remains a class act, combining near slalom like potential with a level of ease and practicality that makes it applicable to most. And the best news is that it has even come down in price for 2015. Highly recommended.
Other sails in this test: