TABOU SPEEDSTER LTD 118L 2017 TEST REVIEW
The Speedster remains unchanged for 2017, except for a graphic update to bring it in line with the rest of the 2017 Tabou range. The 118 is one of an extensive six board line-up stemming from 100 to 148L to cater for every weight, preference and desired wind range of the “weekend racer”. It has a classic modern freerace design, with hard, defined rails that display minimal tuck, and deep complex cutouts in the tail. The deck is scooped in front of the mast track yet flat behind, before becoming domed in the tail. The most noticeable aspect of the Speedster’s tail however, is that it plays home to the board’s unique deckpads, with significant raised sections under the balls and toes of the rider’s feet. The idea is to provide ergonomic foot positions and thereby increase ease and comfort for long periods of use. Available in both of the brand’s established technologies – LTD and CED – the Speedster comes supplied with an upright slalom focussed G10 fin from T-Lab.
“We dreamed of combining the performance of a slalom board with the easy feeling of a freeride board, so we made the Speedster. We started with the knowledge learned from making the Manta, the board our team races on for the World Tour, and we added features from the Rocket to create an easier gybe and a smoother ride that is more in contact with the water.”
Unchanged for another year, the Speedster remains every bit the archetypal freerace blasting machine. It feels smaller underfoot than most in the group, comfortable with an 8.5m at a push but really coming into its own when properly lit in 7.5m weather and stronger. Accelerating feverishly as soon as power is applied, it’s as if it is in a rush to get somewhere. The straps are relatively inboard and easy to find, whereas the deckpads provide real comfort as well as traction. As we found last year, it needs to be powered by a fast freerace / slalom sail – something that can feed its insatiable power craving. Flighty on the fin, it keeps the rider honest and will punish bad technique, particularly in heavy seas and gusty conditions. Yet stand more upright over the board and it soon settles, the inboard straps and EVA wedges in the deckpad providing the reassurance to keep driving. Learn to play the Speedster’s manner and it will reward with bags of performance, floating through lulls, accelerating in gusts and providing the balance between ‘control’ and ‘feedback’ through the fin to really hone your blasting speed. Short and boxy, its rockered low-volume nose is thinner than you might realise and took a few by surprise in the tack, but enter the gybe with speed and the 75 will have you projected out of the turn with such force you’ll wonder what just happened. It feels twitchy and alert through the arc, asking to be pushed harder, its sharp rails gripping as if on the edge of a cliff and your life depended on it.
Sharp, responsive and alive, the Speedster behaves just as you’d expect from a model freerace example. Rewarding good technique with masses of potency, it will charge as
far as you dare to push it.
Other sails in this test: