STARBAORD ULTRAKODE 86L 2017 TEST REVIEW
The UltraKode range is completely new for 2017, the result of input from some of the most notable characters on the world’s wave scene. Jaeger Stone and his father are responsible for the two smallest sizes in the line-up (72 and 76), with PWA World Champ Philip Koester and wave specialist Dany Bruch pooling their efforts for the four largest sizes in the range. That leaves the 80L version, which is influenced by them all. The 86 looks bright and attractive in its clean, bold graphic. The fittings are excellent (more about them later) and there are good indicators for fin and deckplate positions provided by the tracks. It is tested here in the brand’s top Reflex Carbon construction and as a ‘Pure Thruster Edition’. Its weight is staggeringly light, matching the quoted 5.8kg. Starboard claims it is the “lightest wave board ever”, and we’re inclined to agree. For most, however, the standard ‘Carbon’ version with five finboxes would probably be the more affordable and versatile option.
“For every wave, for any move, for any style – it’s finally here – the UltraKode, the dream board.”. Dany Bruch
The widest in the group (both at its widest point and in its tail), the UltraKode feels very secure and stable at rest, capable of carrying weight well, or being used in a ‘float and ride’ role. Deliver power and it releases effortlessly, requiring little persuasion or input from the rider. We have to say that the fittings supplied on all the 2017 Starboards we have used to date are super comfortable, the thick deckpads providing excellent shock absorption and traction, whilst the straps are some of the most securely fitting and padded on the market. Combine this with the 86’s low planted riding style and it is easy to understand why the 86 scored highly in ease, comfort and control with all who tried it. It rides low to the water, cutting a clean confident path at speed. A small point, but worth of note, is that the 86’s nose is deceptively short and low in volume and took a little more concentration to master in the tack. Used around a break, the UltraKode’s ‘Reflex’ lightweight construction is also noticeable, feeling incredibly lively and alert underfoot. It pops and releases off the smallest ramp and can’t help but inspire you to try a few stunts on the way out … and on the wave face. Properly powered as the wind increases, the 86 retains its manners well, sitting down in the water and staying connected, whilst converting the extra energy into speed. On the wave, it grips beautifully and keeps its speed through the turn well. The radius of the turn does feel a little more prescribed and fixed compared to some others in the group, taking a more forceful style to drive the board through the back foot and make the tighter section. Tinkering with the fin setup undoubtedly helped to refine this sensation (after all, an 18cm central fin is the largest supplied in this test), and the 5-finbox UltraKode option would also provide even more scope for experimenting.
Stable, easy and perfectly mannered, the UltraKode planes instinctively and offers impeccable control through a wide range of conditions. With time spent tuning its fin setup, its raw wave riding potential can be realised.
Other sails in this test: