First Impressions

Boardseeker

Equipment test


Team riders Ben Proffitt and Lalo Goya putting the Quads through their paces in Cape Town and Cape Verde…

QUATRO QUAD 75 & 85

Released: Oct 09
Volume: 75, 85Price: £TBC

A couple of board brands have already made it into production with their Quad fin wave boards, but Quatro are arguably the brand who has done the most research and testing into this new fin set-up. It was therefore with great anticipation that we awaited arrival of the very first production samples of the Quatro Quad 75 & 85 in mid October this year.

We were extremely privileged to be the only magazine in the World to get hold of these first boards, so have taken plenty of time to put them through their paces before reaching any conclusions – yes, yes, we know its a hard job, but someone has to do it!

We have also spent plenty of time this autumn on the Quatro Tempo (onshore twin) and Rhythm (sideshore twin) which we have grown extremely fond of and are particularly well suited to their designed conditions. It was therefore going to be very interesting to see where the Quad would position itself against these two boards.

General Feel

In a straight line, both of the Quads (75 & 85) sit quite low in the water, feeling quite ‘planted’ but have plenty of control as the wind increases (much the same way as twin fins do, but with a little more fin grip). They have reasonable speed and certainly don’t feel overly ‘draggy’, or hard to get going, but are not quite as spritely in the water as most single fins (or the Tempo).

They do however go upwind like a ‘steam train’ compared with twin fins, particularly when a bit underpowered or getting out through whitewater. They have an abundance of drive at slow speed and allow you to keep pushing through your legs where you would have to back off on most twins.

Both these Quads are fairly short and wide and they certainly feel it underfoot, delivering a very compact feeling on the water.

Keith Teboul (shaper) sent us some guide-lines on trim and mentioned that the Quads are being sailed with slightly narrower stances, with mast tracks and foot straps set slightly further back than on twins. More on this later…

Comparing the Quad, Tempo and Rhythm in a straight line, we would say that the Tempo feels the liveliest and most directional with the best release, but the Quad goes upwind a little better and has just a little more ‘fin power’ to keep it going when really underpowered. The Rhythm is technically the most difficult of the 3 boards in a straight line, requiring lighter footwork to get planing and stay planing in lighter winds and a bit more effort to get back upwind. The Tempo is noticeably more ‘exciting’ to sail in a straight line with both the Quad and Rhythm feeling quite low in the water and ‘settled’ in comparison.

Cross-On Conditions

The 75 Quad was tested in cross-on conditions using sails from 3.7m up to 4.7m whilst the 85 was used with 4.7, 5.0 and 5.3m sails.

In lighter winds, the Tempo 84 had a bit more release and liveliness to it in comparison to the Quad 85 which felt quite planted and not as quick in a straight line. The Tempo also turned more easily at slower speeds off the back foot and help snap a tighter turn off the top in softer waves.

The 75 Quad was a much more competitive prospect to the 76 Tempo and 75 Rhythm in Cross-on conditions. Which is the best, was a question that left our test Clones scratching their heads and arguing for many days afterwards with the ultimate answer being ‘they are all good for different reasons’.

Personal preference will play the biggest factor in which 75 liter board you would choose for cross-on conditions conditions…The Quad goes upwind better than the Tempo and Rhythm and has a very controlled, planted ride in rougher conditions. It isn’t however quite as quick as the Tempo in a straight line and doesn’t feel quite as lively for burning around and getting jumps on. On the wave, it feels a bit wider, slightly slower and more ‘fishy’ than the Rhythm, but when you get your weight forward, carves the grippiest, smoothest turns of the three boards.

When we tested the Starboard Quad a few months ago, we found the tail would very rarely break out in the top turn which was a bit disappointing for advanced sailors in cross-on conditions, but this trait doesn’t seem to apply to the Quatro. The level of grip in the top turn can almost be controlled by how you position your weight and trim of the board through the turn. Our advanced Clones commented that the 75 was probably the easiest board they ever sailed for doing takas on, yet at the same time, it offers unrivaled levels of grip if top turned with the right weight distribution/technique.

Backside turns are another area where the Quad excels. The extra grip from the fins really lets you snap the board around hard off the top with full control, without worry of the tail breaking or bouncing out on you.

Overall, we would suggest that in UK conditions you will probably be better off with the Tempo in 85 liter weather as in these lighter, cross-on conditions, the livelier feel and ease of keeping speed on the wave are more important than ultimate turning ability on a steep face. However as the wind picks up and reaches 75 liter conditions, its much more a matter of personal preference of whether to choose the Tempo, Rhythm or Quad.

Side-shore conditions

We were fortunate to get some good down-the-line conditions on both the 75 and 85 Quad in Tiree and Gwithian and were also able to compare the 75 Quad head to head with the Rhythm 75.

There are a lot of things to like about these Quads in down the line conditions. The Rhythm is an awesome down the line board (best in our wave board test last year), but when you get on the Quad after sailing the Rhythm, its like the chop has gone out of your bottom turn. The Quad is just so much smoother and more drivey through the bottom turn. It really cuts its way through the chop and gives huge amounts of grip and confidence. The faster you go, the tighter you seem to be able to turn and the more grip the board delivers.

Its not just the bottom turn thats different however. Whilst the Rhythm snaps impressively tight turns off the top, it feels like it is the tail of the board that gives you the grip through the turn. In comparison, the Quad feels like its the shoulders of the board (around the mast track area) that provide the grip. This encourages you to get your weight more forward on the turn and lets you crank full-radius turns with total confidence.

In steeper sections, this turning ability is unsurpassed by any board we have ever sailed before. The Quad seems to get away with turns in critical sections of the wave that you just wouldn’t get away with on a twin or single fin board.

However, it’s not just carving turns where the Quad excels. Off the top, the Quad seems to generate power and acceleration unmatched by any other board that we have sailed. Unfortunately, as of yet, we have no scientific explanation to why this might be, it just simply does!

There are a couple of drawbacks of the Quad however. If you aren’t able to get your weight forward in the bottom turn (for instance when you are overpowered) the board isn’t so keen on turning off your back foot. This was most noticeable when overpowered on the 85 where it was actually quite a struggle to get a full radius bottom turn. You can initiate the turn no problem, but half way through the turn the board kind of ‘locks up’ and doesn’t want to turn any more.

The other drawback is when top turning in softer waves. On the twin fin, if the wave isn’t properly formed or lacks power, you can still snap quite a tight turn, throw some spray and make things look perhaps a little more impressive than they should do in those conditions.

With the Quad however you don’t get the same snappiness and as described above, the board wants to turn more off the shoulders. This is great in steep, powerful waves, but in softer waves, it’s hard to force an aggressive turn unless you have the speed or steepness of wave to allow it. You basically can’t ‘fake’ a good turn off a poor wave like you can with a twin fin.

Summary

So who wants a Quad?! Well, thats a hard one to answer…In proper down-the-line conditions, there is no doubting that the Quatro Quad is the best board we have ever sailed. It turns tightly with immense amounts of grip, control and speed.. However, the advantages will be noticed mostly by advanced sailors who can turn well and have the ability to work with the steepest/most critical sections of the wave in comfortably powered up conditions. The Quad also has the added advantage of going upwind really well, so maximizes your time on the wave face, particularly in lighter conditions.

In cross-on conditions, the 75 presents a better argument than the 85 for all-round performance, with the 85 feeling just a little slow and wave-riding orientated when compared with the Tempo/other onshore biased boards.

The Quad 75 generally isn’t as exciting as the Tempo 76 in a straight line, but gains some favour for having good drive when underpowered and going upwind so well. On the wave, its down to a matter of personal preference. If you like a board to feel compact, grippy, flowing and surfy in feel, then you may prefer the Quad over the Tempo or Rhythm in cross-on conditions. If you prefer your board to feel loose, fast and gunny, then you may prefer the Rhythm and if straight line performance and maintaining speed through the turns is your priority, then the Tempo could be for you.

Good luck with your choice!

Cape Town shots:  Cape Sessions
Cape Verde shots:  Quatro International

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