on the beach
Mistral is firmly back on the map under the careful supervision of former PWA superstar Anders Bringdal, and with the reborn brand comes the return of the legendary Screamer.
The Screamer in its latest incarnation comes out of the same mould as the full-on Mistral Race board, but appears in a different construction and with slightly inboard strap positions to make it more forgiving to ride and gybe.
In an age where almost every brand is popping boards out of the Cobra Factory, it’s refreshing to see a major brand coming from somewhere else. The Mistral weighs in at a respectable 6.98kg and sports a few different touches than we see on the Cobra boards, such as the Gore-Tex air vent. The DaKine footstraps are excellent – firmer than the versions supplied on the RRD boards, but supercomfortable at the same time. The deckpads are also good.
The Screamer is one of the narrower (max width) and shorter boards of the test group, but actually has the widest tail width. In profile it does look wider in the tail than most and a little more straight-sided.
On the water, the Mistral sits somewhere in the middle of the group in terms of riding style. It’s less locked down than the JP and Starboard, but not quite as lively and ‘free’ as the Fanatic and Naish. When blasting at speed the nose stays fairly low, and you ride the board from the tail slightly trimmed to one side for top speed. It requires a reasonable amount of rider involvement to keep the board trimmed (from rail to rail) and actually felt most comfortable and potent with a more upright stance, letting the board glide over the chop, slightly on the rail.
While the wide tail, fairly outboard strap positions and low ride give the impression that the board will be most competitive sailing closer to the wind, it’s actually off the wind where you get the best from the Screamer. Point it on a broad reach (particularly where you can ride a bit more over the board rather than driving sideways against it) and the Mistral can hold with almost everything in test. On a tighter reach it needs a bit more effort to hold with the best, and is probably at its weakest for speedsailing upwind in lighter, choppier conditions.
Although the Mistral is by no means a heavy board at 6.98kg, it does take a little more power than most to get going and get the best from – the smaller fin also probably contributes to this somewhat. It feels a little stickier to release and a bit slower to accelerate in the gusts than the very best of this group.
The Screamer is a nice board to gybe. It sits somewhere in the middle of this group, feeling more agile than the Fanatic and Thommen, but at the same time not quite as grippy and potent as the RRD and JP for advanced riders. It is, however, nimble enough to adjust the turn mid-gybe (great for racing situations) and is pretty reactive to foot pressure.
The Screamer felt completely comfortable with our 7.0m test sails and was probably at its top end with our 5.8 sails. The mast-track is positioned the furthest back of the group at 120cm from the tail to the rear of the track. We had ours set around middle for most conditions, and a nudge further forward in the rougher stuff for extra control.
Weight (bare): 6.98kg
Range sizes: 95, 110, 123
The Mistral has a lively, engaging feel but at the same time decent control and ease of use, particularly in flatter conditions. It’s a little slower to get planing than some of the boards in this group, but a bigger fin may help a bit with this. Gybing is nice, and when pointed off the wind the Screamer can hold its own for speed against pretty much anything.