STARBOARD ULTRAKODE FLAX BALSA 93L 2019 TEST REVIEW
New for 2019, the UltraKodes have a rounded-pin tail shape but the rest of the 93 litre UltraKode shape is the same design as the 2017/18 model. Also fresh for 2019 are subtle changes in construction and fittings. The board on test here is in the brand’s new innovative Flax Balsa construction, the intention of which is to produce boards with the lowest possible carbon footprint. To quote their own line, “The best boards for the world.” A natural end grain balsa is used for the hull, whilst flax fibres and carbon strips are incorporated to stiffen the most vulnerable areas. At 7.42 kg, it is quite easily the heaviest board on review here, so we were keen to evaluate its effect on performance in testing. If lightness is key for you though, look no further than Starboard’s premium ‘Carbon Reflex’ construction using the lightest biaxial carbon, which they claim gives “the lightest wave boards on the market”. Starboard are also keen to highlight their new Yulex footstraps, which use natural rubber in their layup, reducing the amount of CO2 emitted in their manufacturing process. The footstraps use the brand’s established K9 anti-twist plugs and sit on top of some 10mm thick deckpads, with deep diamond grooves for traction and wear resistance. The widest board here, it has a clean and uncomplicated outline, with a rounded nose and rounded pintail. The bottom shape transitions smoothly from mono-concave in the front to straight double between the straps and vee in the tail. The 93 comes supplied with, new for 2019, Jaeger Stone’s signature Stone Surf G-10 thruster fins by Drake. With five Starboxes in the tail, Starboard claim that the resultant setup versatility comes at no additional weight.
“The dream wave board by the dream wave team. The ultra-all-rounder: thruster, quad or twin; side-shore, onshore, small waves or big waves. The choice of World Champions Philip Köster, Iballa Moreno, Daida Moreno and Australian Champion Jaeger Stone.”
Said to possess a straighter rocker-line compared to older Starboard wave board ranges, the UltraKode 93 releases early and easily despite its additional weight. It accelerates well and feels supremely connected to the water, with a low, planted stance. Everything happens smoothly, responding to changes in foot pressure in a flowing easy manner with a dependable nature that will settle even the most nervous passenger. There is plenty of traction from the fins, enabling the UltraKode to point upwind well and glide through lulls. With the volume and balance to make a great float and ride companion, it’s just a very relaxing board to sail, even as the conditions turn on or the sea state gets churned up. There is just so much stability and comfort in the ride, the board feeling secure underfoot and encouraging the rider to venture into unchartered territory. With good speed it can be used to hit ramps purposefully, and whilst its physical weight is noticeable in the air, the traction on the pads and straps is excellent. But it was on the wave face that the UltraKode really exhibited its pedigree. It has a classic carving nature, loving to be lead by front foot pressure and holding its rail into the turn so well. Its connected nature continues throughout and you can really sense the level of grip provided as the board transitions sympathetically from rail to rail. More of an accomplished carver than a slashy new-school stick, it loves to complete each turn, keeping them linked and flowing. The 93’s wide rounded outline and thin tail help it to hold the tight arcs when pushed, fitting into the smallest cross-onshore pockets. You just need to carve and push harder and it responds. If you’re looking for a modern wave board with a classic familiar carving spirit, you can’t go wrong with the UltraKode.
Early to plane and incredibly planted, the UltraKode was a pleasure to use, feeling comfortable and secure through a massive wind range. It has modern wave board dimensions, yet a distinct bias towards front foot full rail turns and just loves to be carved as hard as you dare to push.
Other boards in this test: