on the beach
When we first tested the Futura three years ago we were a bit reserved about it. The reason for this was that Starboard were marketing it as their freeride board, and in our opinion it wasn’t quite that. It felt much more like a detuned racer than an allround freerider. Three years later Starboard now have the fantastic Carve as their ‘freeride’ offering and the tweaked and tuned Futura now sits much more naturally as their ‘freerace’ design.
When it comes to race boards Starboard have a heck of a pedigree. They were the first to bring in the wide concept (with the original Formula board), and have dominated the slalom board market pretty much ever since with their hugely successful iSonic range.
The Futura takes a lot of its design characteristics from the iSonic, and the similarities in performance are evident as soon as you get it wet. At 238cm it’s actually one of the longer boards in this group, but also one of the widest at 67.5cm. It’s available in three construction options and we were supplied with the lightest (Wood Carbon), which weighed in at a very impressive 6.8kg (third lightest in test).
On flat water the Futura is instantly likeable. It feels very locked down, fast, and easy to sail. There is really good ‘bite’ from the fin and the rail, which allows you to get into a stance to drive hard against it. When a gust hits, the board stays locked down with no control issues and you can just push harder and harder against the board to make the most of each gust. It accelerates rapidly in the gusts and, while easy to sail, still has enough responsiveness for a good sailor to squeeze a bit extra out of it when required. Underpowered or overpowered, the Futura was the fastest board of this group on flat water, and impressively one of the easiest to get the best from. You really don’t need much technique to go fast on this board, and it rides so comfortably at speed as well.
In bigger chop and waves, it isn’t quite so controllable. We found the low nose can get knocked around a bit by the waves, sometimes sending the board off the wind, but most of the time just tapping the water enough to slow the board down a bit. If you can steer it through the flatter sections it’s rocket fast, but in conditions where the nose / shoulders of the board are hitting chop it loses out slightly to the higher, more technical riding boards such as the Fanatic and Naish.
Early planing is very good on the Futura – best in the group in fact. The light hull, flat ride and good drive from the fin / rail help you to capitalise on every ounce of power from the sail to get planing. And the board stays nicely settled while moving back into the straps / sailing position.
The Futura is also really nice in the gybes. It grips well from the rails through the turn and lets you drive as hard as you like. Advanced gybers and racers will be impressed with the ease at which you can change the arc of the turn mid-gybe. It really does feel quite nimble through the gybe, and the wide flat deck also makes it feel reassuringly safe through the foot transition.
Starboard have their excellent ‘recommended mast-track position’, which again seems bang on the mark. We had it slightly towards the rear of this position on 5.8m sails (to give the board a more balanced feel) and right in the middle with 7.0m. Our 80kg Clones were happy with the fin size, but our 118kg Clone would have preferred something bigger. This board does seem to have a pretty big wind range, so there would be no harm in experimenting with a few different fin sizes to get the best out of it.
Price: £1549 (Wood Carbon)
Weight (bare): 6.8kg
Range sizes: 93, 101, 111, 122, 131, 141
In our opinion the Futura fits the bill of a freerace board perfectly. There is no doubting its racing pedigree; it has a racy feel to it and draws many similarities from the iSonic, yet at the same time manages to blend a good dose of ‘ease of use’ into the mix. It’s the fastest board in the group on flat water, great to gybe, and one of the easiest to sail fast on. It starts to get a little less comfortable in rough chop, where the low nose and locked down feel start to take their toll, but still has a decent turn of speed in these conditions, particularly off the wind.