The Hawk was originally introduced as Fanatic’s supercross board and is now heralded as the brand’s “best-selling blend of speed and manoeuvrability”.
In the Ltd construction the Hawk is an incredibly light board – at just 6.61kg it’s by far the lightest board in this test. It’s also one of the shortest and sports one of the narrowest tail widths. The quality of fittings is excellent, as we have come to expect from Fanatic, and looking once more at the measurements it’s surprising how far back the track and straps are compared to the other boards. The back strap is an incredible 9cm further back than the RRD’s!
When you step on, the very first thing you notice is how fast the Hawk feels. It really does feel lightning quick and rightly earns the title of ‘fastest board on test’. It’s not simply that it’s faster than the other boards – it actually gives a sensation of speed that none of the other boards come close to matching. It really feels like you’re flying on the back inch of the board and every gust just accelerates the superlight hull faster and faster. In fact, everything is fantastic until you reach the top end of the wind spectrum at which point the light and exciting ride gets just a little frisky.
At the very top end, the Fanatic is a lively board to sail. It takes a bit of nerve to push to its limit when overpowered in chop, and a fair degree of skill or weight to keep it pinned down. It’s just not the sort of board you can cruise around half-throttle on.
It is worth putting this into perspective though. In conditions that ‘most’ freeriders sail in the Fanatic will simply give a lively and exciting ride which many sailors will love it for. In fact many of the boards with the best control can actually feel a bit ‘sedate’ in comfortable conditions. It’s only once you start to get overpowered (particularly in chop) that things start to become more of a handful on the Fanatic.
For general straight line performance the inboard strap positions felt just a little too inboard, so best to opt for the outboard option. The foot position is very comfortable and felt perfectly balanced at speed.
In the corners the Fanatic can crank a tight gybe as well as anything here. If you go at it with full commitment you’ll come out with a big smile on your face. If you’re a bit more hesitant in the gybe you’ll find the Hawk a little unsettled underfoot, and it doesn’t hold its line as well as some others unless driven hard.
We used the Hawk mostly with 7.2m and 6.2m sails, with which it coped perfectly. You could squeeze up to an 8.0m on it, but you probably wouldn’t want to go much smaller than 6.0m unless on pretty flat water. The mast-track worked well in the middle for most conditions, or slightly further forward (c. 130cm) for more control at the top end.
The Hawk is an absolute rocketship, offering unquestionably the most exciting ride of this group, but be prepared for a white knuckle ride at the top end. It gybes well when turned with commitment and planes early thanks to its incredibly low weight. Overall, the Hawk is a very exciting freeride board that leans slightly more towards the competent rider.