The hugely successful JP X-Cite Ride range remains completely unchanged for 2010 (except for graphics). This is a move that we very much favour. Why change for the sake of change if the board works well? If nothing else, keeping it the same for two years should give the board better residual value for those who decide to invest.
The range is offered in two constructions: full wood sandwich and Pro Edition (lightest). The JP is the second longest board in the test and a little narrower than average, particularly in the tail, whose width is very similar to the Fanatic and Starboard. It comes equipped with the usual very high quality JP fittings and carries the smallest fin of the test at 38cm.
On the water the JP is an instantly likeable board. It’s another one of those boards that ‘just works’. It feels fun and relatively exciting, yet also very user-friendly underfoot.
In a straight line the JP feels very comfortable, balanced and sails in a lively fashion off the fin at top speed. It has quite a bit of nose rocker, which gives it a very secure and safe feel – particularly in chop and when headed broad off the wind. This really helps the top end control, which is second only to the Tabou Rocket. The inboard strap positions are perfect for all-round freeriding. Only the speed hungry (and big sail blasters) might want to opt for the outermost positions.
In lighter winds the ease of planing is fairly good thanks in some part to the board’s light weight and the well positioned footstraps. It can’t quite match the much wider (and bigger finned) Tabou and Exocet, but is pretty evenly matched with the similarly proportioned Starboard and Fanatic.
In the gybes the JP is very good – particularly for more advanced riders who want a board to turn tightly at speed. The shoulders don’t catch at all (as they do on some of the other boards) and it can be cranked around very tight indeed when required. Less experienced gybers will find the board relatively stable (although not as stable as some of the others within this group) and pretty good at maintaining speed through the turns. It scores slightly higher than the Starboard for beginner gybes thanks to being ever so slightly less responsive to foot pressure.
JP recommends a sail size range of 5.5m to 8.0m, which we think is bang on the money. Both of our test sails (7.2m and 6.2m) felt very balanced on the board.
It’s hard to pinpoint a ‘target buyer’ for the JP because it will appeal to just about every freerider from flat water improvers to advanced riders who sail in coastal conditions. It’s a very similar performer to the Starboard, but offers ever so slightly more ease of use to the less proficient rider at the cost of a tiny bit of agility and liveliness. A fantastic all-round freeride board.