STARBOARD FUTURA ULTRACORE CARBON 117L 2017 TEST REVIEW
The Futura line up has been completely rejuvenated for 2017, with all six boards in the range (from 90 to 137L) available in standard UltraCore Carbon construction, or the brand’s premium UltraCore Reflex Carbon technology. Shorter, thinner and wider than their predecessors, the emphasis has been on increasing range and planing efficiency, as well as ease through the gybe. The design stands out amongst the group – easily the widest here with the wide point well forward of the centre, before narrowing quickly to the smallest rounded tail, with shallow “open-angle” scalloped cutouts. It has easily the narrowest 1ft off measurement in the group, giving an indication of just how rounded the outline is. On the deck the Futura’s thin profile is sunken even more around the track and nose to increase control and accentuate the sail’s vertical resting position. There’s then some added volume in the tail, above the cutouts, to bring extra dome and comfort to the deck shape and increase glide through the corner to the gybe’s exit. Finished with visible Carbon Innegra in the rounded rails and racy graphics akin to its stable-mate iSonic, the Futura’s fittings are also well worthy of note, supplied with improved ‘hydrophobic’ Ultralight straps, designed to be stiffer and more comfortable, and Drake’s flagship ‘Ready to Race’ fins.
“For the 2017 Futuras, we focused on improving early planing, accessibility and performance in the gybe. The gybe is super easy, you can close your eyes and just gybe.”
With such a wide nose and narrow tail, the technique to get the Futura planing took a bit of getting used to initially, particularly for the heavier riders in the team. Step back too early and the tail sinks; but if you coax it off the wind and let the board do its business, the large forward area gives maximum affect as you drive through the front foot. Once released, the Futura accelerates smoothly, feeling much smaller underfoot once in the straps than its quoted width would have you believe. Fast, loose and lively, the over-riding sensation of the Futura is actually one of control. Easy to direct smoothly through foot-pressure, in a straight-line it just sits so planted on the water’s surface, the nose of the board never seeming to rise or get carried away, despite its size. It found real favour with the lighter rider, easily carrying an 8.5m sail and making the most of marginal winds, yet remaining balanced and controlled when the conditions became challenging. The fittings also play their part in this respect – the straps providing superb connection to the board without the slightest sign of twisting or digging, whilst the fin offers plenty of firm traction to push against. The narrow rounded tail also seemed to benefit the Futura’s gybing style, making it easy to initiate the turn and vary the radius according to conditions, before the wide area in the board’s mid-section provides balance and ease in the exit. While slalom boards offer little in compromise, the Futura provides accessible performance and enjoyment that will more than satisfy most.
With a little refinement in technique, the Futura can be unleashed early to provide a class-leading ‘performance-versus-control’ masterclass, making it above all, a lot of fun for blasting on whatever the conditions.
Other sails in this test: