Witchcraft, who were formerly known as a purely custom brand, are based in Fuerteventura and started making production boards in 1997. Founder Bouke Becker is an engineer and having met him this year on our test trip, he is a man who approaches everything with a scientific approach and huge attention to detail. We have long heard about the unique construction that Witchcraft boards have; so strong you can hit the HDD versions with a hammer without causing damage…and yes we did try! What we hadn’t heard much about is how the shapes work, so it was with great interest that we included this Witchcraft Chakra into test.
Looking at the measurements, the Chakra weighs in as the second lightest board in the group at 6.6kg’s. The maximum width and length are pretty much middle of this group, but most noticeable is the tail width, which is particularly narrow. At 30cm from the tail, it’s a whole 1cm narrow than the next board (RRD) and more than 2cm narrower than the widest Starboard.
The quality of the board looks to be very good and is certainly unique in terms of being the only board in this group not to come out of the Cobra Factory. The footstraps are wider ‘kitesurf’ style straps, which you will probably either love or hate. In a straight line they are very comfortable (spreading the load across the top of your foot) and give a very secure feel, however in the turns, your foot does feel less able to release quickly from them. The footpads have an extra ridge on them to give better grip under your foot, which seems to work nicely. The fin set-up is tri-fin and our board was supplied with some very sophisticated carbon fins with pre-twist moulded into them. As I mentioned above, Bouke is extremely scientific in his approach to board design and the fins are just one area where he has put a lot of development into.
On the water the first thing you notice is how quickly the Chakra accelerates. It feels the smallest board in this group underfoot (and by volume it is the smallest board), but as soon as the board releases, it accelerates unbelievably quickly up to top speed with a real frictionless feel to it. Once blasting the board doesn’t have quite the same secure, locked in ‘freeride’ feel to it that some of the others do in this test. It feels more manoeuvrable underfoot and more wave-board like in nature – probably attributed a fair bit to that narrower tail and flatter deck. The shoulders sit quite low and give it a more ‘planted’ feel than most.
On the wave is where the Chakra feels most at home. It has a very surfy, manoeuvrable feel, particularly for a freewave board, transitioning easily from rail to rail as you gain speed on the wave. As you initiate the bottom turn, it has plenty of reassuring grip and a very smooth, safe feel to the way it turns, holding speed very well even if your technique leaves a bit to be desired. Turned on its natural arc, it is really good through the bottom turn. However, we did find that it doesn’t like to be pushed much tighter, seeming to resist this and return you to its natural arc. The same is true of the top turn. Go with the flow and it has all the grip, drive, smoothness and performance that you could ever want. Try and crank it tighter to really throw some spray and it resists. Putting this back into context however, this is not a full on wave board – it’s a freewave and from that respect it’s very good on the wave. Novice and intermediate wave riders will love the way it turns, with only advanced and really aggressive riders feeling they need a little more tightness in the turns at times.
When it comes to freestyle, the Chakra was actually one of the best performing boards thanks to its great slide and wide, low shoulders giving it a reassuringly stable feel. It also feels very compact underfoot which is great for jumping.
The Chakra is probably the most wave-orientated board of this group, although still perfectly capable in the flat. It planes well, goes upwind really well and has a very loose, surfy feel to it on the wave. Those looking to learn front side waveriding will love the way this board holds speed, grip and smoothness through the turn. Heavier and more brutal riders will love the durability of the construction and only advanced riders looking to turn more tightly on the wave face would be better looking at the more dedicated wave boards within the Witchcraft range.
right to reply
Bouke Becker, shaper of Witchcraft, gives his response to the test
“We fully subscribe Adrian’s findings. What maybe did not show as clear within the test period is the extended windrange of the trifin because of the shorter centre fin which also gives the more planted feeling. The Chakra is a cross over between wave and FW with a wide appeal. It’s often been described as the easiest board possible to gybe and the bigger sizes are even being rated highly by teachers for teaching planing gybes. It’s also recommended to read the reports on the Boards forum for additional info from a wide range of users on what it can and can´t do. The Chakra V2 is going in it´s 4th year now but it´s still very much up to date and we still would not know what to improve. For those who want to crank really tight turns we have the Wave or the Shaman ranges.”