TABOU 3S LTD 106L 2017 TEST REVIEW
The 3S series has been in the Tabou range as their crossover contender for many years now, the name referring to the three styles of riding for which the board is intended – wave, freeride and freestyle. With a complete design refresh for the new season, the series is made up of four board models, from 86 to 116. Each size is available in two construction options – standard CED using full sandwich PVC technology, or LTD incorporating a carbon innegra sandwich, as tested here. Despite its new design, the 3S remains the sole single-fin board in this test group, Tabou believing that a multi-fin option is not required in a crossover / bump-and-jump design. It does however benefit from the modern shift towards compact designs, this 106 being the shortest and one of the widest here. Retaining width in the nose and tail, it possesses particularly full rails and a flat deck, providing the stability you would expect of a board of this volume. Its boxy outline is tempered with a combination of pronounced double and mono-concaves in the hull to provide the grip and purchase in a wave environment.
“New for 2017, the 3S is modern and compact, which radically increases the board’s performance in speed and maneuverability. The compact outline makes turning much easier and therefore allows us to use a straighter rocker, which means the new 3S is both faster and more maneuverable with a magic glide over the water. The shorter shape also fits better in small cars and board-bags. Additionally, the new fuller rail and flatter deck provide stability and control.”
With the 3S being such a popular all-rounder over the years, it must have been a bit of a gamble to radically change the design as Tabou have done so. But it is a gamble, which in our opinion, has paid off! This 106 is super stable and easy at rest, the 32cm single fin providing plenty of directional stability to make up for its compact length. Responding well to pumping, it releases willingly onto the plane as power is applied, accelerating smoothly to an impressive speed. With such a wide tail, you find yourself settling for double straps, or moving your back foot further out onto the rail, the dual density heel cushions providing an edge with which to drive hard against and push more power into the board. Fast on all points of sail, but particularly upwind, it sits high out of the water, riding high on its mono-concave, the fin providing plenty of useable feedback with which to push against. It glides through lulls effortlessly, when boards with narrower tails stutter and stall, and in gusts it feels alive, exciting and distinctly blasty underfoot. In heavy choppy seas, the 3S’s ride can be quite jarring, particularly off the wind, its short outline and wide shoulders emphasised by the rear hull’s unwillingness to adhere to the water’s surface. That said, the 3S rewards commitment from the rider, asking to be dominated and returning input with life and excitement. The same can be said in the turn, the board gripping beautifully the harder you push, confident that the fin will hold and the rails will do their part. In a bump and jump or wave environment, the 3S’s early planing and speed make for a super playful platform, its lively character encouraging the rider to push themselves out of their comfort zone.
The new 3S is far removed from its conventional past and will take time for loyal 3S advocates to get used to, but its ultra-modern design is fast, lively and super user-friendly, rewarding the rider with lots of performance to match the effort put in.
Other sails in this test: