TABOU ROCKET WIDE LTD 118L 2016 TEST REVIEW
Unaltered for 2016 apart from a graphics update and refinement to the footstrap plugs, the 118 is the larger sibling of the much celebrated 108 Rocket Wide we tested last year. At 78cm, it is easily the widest in the group and features Tabou’s now familiar bottom shape of pronounced double with vee in the shoulders, reducing to straight double by the front straps … and a mono-concave with cutouts in the tail! A very unique hull design compared to the rest of the group here. Available in standard CED construction or LTD as tested here, it is supplied with a conventional 38cm freeride fin, Cobra supplied Velcro straps and plenty of strap options on the flat deck.
“The Rocket Wide is like the Rocket but wider and a little thinner, which gives 3 main benefits: early planing, quicker acceleration, and the ability to fly through lulls. What does that mean for a freerider? For one, this board keeps its speed and stays balanced during gybes, which means that you make more gybes and come out of them faster. Widening the Rocket also lets you ride bigger sails. For example, the 118 Rocket Wide works with a 6.0m Pilot or an 8.5 Phantom freerace. So, if the Rocket Wide becomes your first board, as you improve you will never run out of speed.”
On the water the 118 provided the stand out performance of the group with a blend of ease and raw ability that will flatter even the most experienced rider. The width provides enough stability to take an 8.0m sail readily, making good use of the power and planing super early once turned off the wind. Wide-and-thin style boards favour use of the hull to exact early planing and this is certainly true with the Tabou. Once on the plane, the 118 is composed and balanced underfoot, requiring little rider input to trim efficiently. Happy cruising around at half speed with an upright stance, it glides through prolonged lulls as if they aren’t there; yet deliver more power and the Rocket Wide responds with more speed and acceleration, particularly off the wind. In the gybe the 118 continues to massage any inaccuracies and exits the turn with speed more often than not, as if on autopilot. It can also be pushed into the carve with real force and aggression, confident that it will bite and hold, able to project through impossibly tight turns for a board of this size and still come out unscathed. Taking the board out into severe conditions at the upper reaches of its wind range, we thought we would easily find the 118’s limits, being that much wider than the rest of the crowd. And yet its bottom shape seems to eliminate any potential rocking from rail to rail as you would expect in large chop, helping the board to retain control and composure.
Although in its second year, the Rocket Wide 118 is a true talisman of the modern wide-thin concept, making it a stunning contender for intermediate to advanced riders alike. Ease, practicality and effortless performance combine to make it a real favourite amongst the team. Well recommended.
Other sails in this test: