on the beach
RRD have a very comprehensive line-up of flat-water boards. They start their range with the new Fire Move for freemove sailing between their very successful Freestyle Wave and the Fire Ride for all-out freeride, next is the Fire Storm (tested here) for fast freeride, then Fire Race for freerace and finally the X Fire for race.
RRD decided to supply us with a Fire Storm for this test because they claim it offers great gybing and easy sailing combined with a very competitive top speed. The Fire Storm opts for no cut-outs in the tail and weighed in at 7.29kg, putting it slightly on the heavier side of this group. It is the second shortest board here, and also one of the widest. The 42cm MFC fin is (jointly with Goya) the biggest in test, and the Fire Storm comes fitted with very soft and comfortable DaKine straps as standard.
The mast-track is one of the furthest forward of the group, and particularly with smaller sails we found ourselves getting the best performance with it positioned just rear of centre. The board is actually very sensitive to mast-track position, and it’s well worth experimenting with this to get the best out of it. Too far forward and the shoulders get a bit catchy, too far back and it can suffer a bit from control. Spend some time to get it right and be prepared to adjust it for different sail sizes and conditions.
On the water the RRD sailing position is very comfortable and the outboard straps are well placed for blasting. The DaKine straps are very comfortable. For waveriding it’s great to have soft straps, but for straight line performance and freeriding some riders might prefer a slightly stiffer strap to give more feel and feedback from the board. The only criticism of comfort would be the rear deckpad, which (if you have big feet) finishes just under your heel when you’re in the outboard straps. This means that when blasting hard your heel is half on and half off the pad. It’s not a big problem, but noticeable nonetheless in the outboard rear strap position.
On flat water, with the track set correctly, the RRD is a fast board, but more importantly an easy board to sail. It can hold its own against most of this group for speed, but doesn’t require as much technique as some to get the best from it. The riding style is unique in that the board rides nicely off the fin, but at the same time feels like the shoulders are quite low. This makes the ride more controlled and a little less fast in feel.
In chop the RRD takes full advantage of its very good control. The windier and rougher it gets, the more the RRD excels. In very short, close chop, the low shoulders can catch a little, but in bigger chop and swell they help to give the board an extra element of control.
Where this board really excels, however, is in the gybe – it was the clear winner of this group when it came to the corners. The rails grip exceptionally well, delivering a very smooth arc that can be tightened at any point with ease. It’s slightly more sensitive to foot pressure than some of the other boards, but this is one of the factors that make it so great for more experienced gybers, while still remaining fully relevant for the less experienced. No matter how choppy the water or how overpowered our Clones were, there was never any sign of the RRD giving up in the turn.
RRD recommend a sail range of 6.0-7.5m for the Fire Storm, and we’d be inclined to agree. It definitely felt like we were on the limit with our 5.8 quiver sails, but the board was really comfortable with 7.0. For faster straight-line performance, particularly with smaller sails, you may want to try a 40cm fin – though the 42cm fin really helped with upwind performance with the bigger sails and ease of planing.
Weight (bare): 7.29kg
Range sizes: 111, 120, 138
The Fire Storm is exactly what it claims to be – a fast freeride board. It definitely felt like it leans more towards ‘freeride’ than ‘race’, but still had speed to hang with the best in most conditions – particularly when the going got rough. The gybing performance was exceptional, and overall the RRD is a very easy board to get the best from.