STARBOARD ATOM IQ 104L 2017 TEST REVIEW
The AtomIQ range has been whittled down to just three sizes for 2017, this 104 being the smallest in the series. Also available in the brand’s “tough and strong” 3DX construction, it is tested here in UltraCore Carbon technology. The 104’s design remains unaltered from last year, being super wide around the shoulders and mid-section yet narrowing rapidly in the rear, behind the back-foot, to a rounded tail. The deck of the board is flat in the mid-section before becoming domed in the tail, raising the balls of the rider’s feet and dropping their heels when in the straps – more on this later. What has changed for 2017 are the graphics. Adopting a minimal visual appearance has enabled the carbon Innegra rail band (which “improves the board’s core structural stiffness”) to become visible. The 10mm double layered deck pads with square contours are also new for this season, as is the G10 fin supplied, said to be thinner in the tip for more speed and improved control, whilst remaining thick in the base for stability and traction.
“The AtomIQ introduced the super slim concept: these thinner boards, combined with a short and wide outline, have a massive wind range. They’re controllable and manoeuvrable in high winds, and plane early in light winds.”
The widest board in the test group, the Atom IQ is super stable at rest, capable of carrying the largest sail in its quoted wind range. Provide the power and it releases progressively from the water, providing the time and practicality to move back on the board and locate the straps. Once the rider is in place, the board seems to engage a hyper-drive gear, rising onto its fin and accelerating freely in every gust. The nose sits high, the shoulders well clear of any trouble and yet the tail of the board remains in constant contact with the water, providing a safe and secure attachment to the surface. Feeling planted and dependable, it is easy for the rider to vary their stance – upright and cruising, or loaded and driving hard … and the AtomIQ certainly thrives on being pushed, its iSonic rocker-line heritage beaming through. The deck-shape in the tail does take a bit of getting used to – rather than pushing with the heel of your back-foot, you simply let the power get transferred to the board naturally through both feet, the board trimming itself instinctively rather than requiring lots of input from the rider. It encourages a more passive, relaxed riding style and makes the board comfortable for use over long periods. Coupled with the excellent traction provided by the deck pads along with the super padded Drake Deluxe straps and it almost feels a shame when you’re forced to transition at the end of a run. That is until you push the AtomIQ into a gybe… fast and wide, it does take some positive influence from the rider to really bite, but keep your back foot back, just in front of the back straps, and the tapered tail takes effect, helping the radius of the turn to be tightened under more pressure.
Fast on all points of sail, performance comes easy on the AtomIQ, rewarding a relaxed passive riding style with plenty of feedback and blasting comfort.
Other sails in this test: