STARBOARD REACTOR 82L LIMITED 2017 TEST REVIEW
Now in its second year of production, the Reactor has been completely revised for 2017, with a shorter nose and faster rocker, combined with new footstrap and fin positions. The fins themselves have also been replaced with fast options and present the brand’s new StarBox to us for the first time – a US box combined with a single slot box slug at the rear to assist in fin placement accuracy and speed. It’s a useful innovation and seems to work well. The Reactor is one of only two boards that make up Starboard’s streamlined wave board range, the other being the Ultrakode, which can be set up as a twinzer, thruster or quad, (also available as a pure thruster edition). The 82 is tested here in the brand’s UltraCore Reflex Carbon construction, claimed to be the world’s lightest, and coming in at a premium price. It is a limited edition product and is only available on special order. The ‘carbon’ version is equivalent to the brand’s elite 2016 construction and will be the choice for most.
“Two times faster. The new Reactors are much faster to move from the niche wave category into the mainstream. Speed mixed with the same magnified ability to exploit the lightest and smallest waves.”
Despite its comparatively similar width, the Reactor reflects it quoted volume as we stepped on it for the first time, easily feeling the smallest in the group. That said, its stance is very balanced and measured, the board sinking uniformly underneath you rather than pitching or trying to tip you off. The difference between its predecessor is immediately apparent as power is delivered however. The new Reactor responds willingly and accelerates purposefully, feeling directionally stable and super comfortable underfoot. Some of the guest testers not used to Starboard’s fittings commented on just how comfortable the deckpads and straps were, whilst noting that the standard distance between the front and back straps seems wider than on other boards. The Reactor is also undoubtedly faster than its 2016 incarnate and despite its smaller size, its response makes it capable for use in marginal 5.3m weather, although it really comes into its own in comfortable 4.7m conditions. Now capable of speeds comparable to others, whilst remaining smooth and comfortable underfoot, the Reactor is thankfully no less potent on a wave face. If anything, its extra speed makes it even more useful around a break. It’s as close to the feel of a surfboard as we have felt, the thin rails gripping and fins biting precisely as you transfer weight through both the front and back foot. It’s an addictive sensation, allowing you to really feel the wave and the smooth grip provided, inspiring you to charge tighter sections and place the board into areas you’d doubt yourself on with other boards. The Reactor is still more niche than others in the group, yet has practical qualities that make its wave riding potency infinitely more accessible.
As close to a surfboard with a sail as you’re likely to experience, the Reactor is comfortable and balanced underfoot, and offers an incredibly connected feel as you play on the wave.
Other sails in this test: