We frequently hear comments about why we shouldn’t bother
testing these boards: they’re too small for most people; most
windsurfers aren’t good enough to sail them; the shops don’t
sell enough of them, etc, etc... We hear these comments, and do you know
what? Quite frankly we don’t give a damn, because despite the perfectly
practical and sensible statements above, these are the boards that
define and showcase windsurfing to most people. These are the Ferraris,
Lamborghinis and Astons of our sport, and the boards for which common
sense is allowed to be thrown out of the window.
This is a collection of the most high performance production waveboards
on the planet. You might not all have the ability to sail them yet, but we bet
you’re still interested…
HOW MANY FINS DO YOU NEED?
It used to be one, and then two, and there’s currently a resurgence for three.
But let’s be honest, you really aren’t cool if you don’t have four fins in your board
this season. Seven of the eight boards tested here are quad-fins, with the only
exception being the Naish, which opts for a thruster / single-fin configuration.
To be fair, you might be able to strut a bit harder to the envious gaze of
onlookers as you carry your four-fin board to the water’s edge, but the truth is
that they really do work, and there is a definite practical advantage to them.
I’m not going to cover the same ground as was covered last time in my
explanation of the various fin configurations, but I will say with some confidence
that quad-fins are here to stay – at least for a while. (I think that covers me?!?)
Quads offer more grip in the turn and better upwind performance than any
other setup, and some also offer the versatility to loosen up the style by
swapping to twin-fin mode. They also offer more wind-range than any other
configuration, have more drive at the bottom end than a twin, and more
control and performance at the top end than a single.
You don’t have to be a PWA pro to gain from a quad-fin. In fact they’re
extremely relevant to ‘average’ level wavesailors – more so than twins ever
were. They achieve this because the ease of planing and straight line /
upwind performance is very good, but they still offer a much looser, tighter
turning sensation than a traditional single-fin.
They do generally prefer a steeper, more powerful wave. The better the
conditions, the better a quad-fin gets.
It’s not all plain sailing though. It seems that the more fins you have in your
board, the more sensitive their positioning becomes, and you really have
to be prepared to experiment. You can honestly transform a quad-fin from
something you hate into something you might trade your family in for just
by moving the fins a centimetre or two. Generally, if you move the rear fins
closer to the front ones the board will feel looser. If you move them apart it
gets more drivey and directional. The rest is up to you, but do take the time
to try a few different settings.
WHO KNOWS WHERE TO PUT THE FINS?
Okay, we know that many of these boards are designed to be
used with two or more fin configurations (e.g. twin or quad), and
as a buyer you want to know how they work in each. But there
is a fine line here. We’re happy to try the boards in each fin
configuration and document our findings, but it’s impossible for
us to try the board in each of its fin configurations on every day
of testing. There just isn’t the time to do this.
If a car gets sent to a motor magazine for test, it arrives with
a set of wheels and tyres to suit the purpose. Testers may
find that the car rides a little hard on the road, but is great on
the track or vice versa. A change in wheels and tyres could
completely rectify this, but cars don’t get sent to test with two
sets. At some point the manufacturer has to do their homework
and pin the tail on the donkey by speculating what best suits
the character of that car.
We are all for adaptability if it increases the range of the
board, but what’s wearing a little thin is when brands send
us a board with myriad potential fin permutations and then
give us no advice on where to start other than “See what you
like best”. And if they do this to us, we can guarantee they’re
doing it to you.
We’re happy to experiment, but a manufacturer should have
some idea of the sweet spot for fin placement in different
conditions, and it would be most helpful if they shared this
information, not just with us, but also with you. In the days
of single-fins it wasn’t so critical, and it was much easier to
experiment. Nowadays it’s very critical, and there are just so
many different potential options.
Unless you’re a compulsive tinkerer, we imagine that you’ll
experiment a little with the fins until you find something you
like and then possibly never touch them again. For the purpose
of this test we had a quick go in each of the different fin
configurations, but then stuck to the one that we thought suited
the board and purpose best and fine-tuned the fin positions
from there. In almost all cases the best all-round configuration
was quad-fin setup with big fins at the back.
For those of you who were wondering, gone I’m afraid are the
days of quiver fins for a test. The (almost ludicrous) number of
potential finbox options and fastening systems has made this a
thing of the past, as we simply can’t have enough fins to cover
the job. But to be fair, in an age where a set of fins costs around
£180, who realistically is going to buy a second set anyway?
A FEW GOOD BOARDS
With the exception of one board, which felt somewhat underfinned
in this test, the rest of these shapes were really very
good. In fact, let me rephrase that: they were absolutely top
notch. It’s easy to write a test where some products are weaker
than others. It gives us something to get our teeth into. In this
test, seven of the boards here would make almost anybody
in the market for a 75L waveboard very happy indeed, and as
such they all score very well. So instead of dishing out a slating
here and there, this test really focuses on the character of each
board to give you the best picture possible of what might best
suit you and the conditions you sail in.
A FEW GOOD MILES
Well, we covered some miles testing these boards – 7,000 to
be exact. We started the test in Tenerife (in July), then carried
on in North Wales (Rhosneigr, Dinas Dinlle and Hell’s Mouth),
had a brief trip to Redcar (NE England), had a quick stint in
Scotland, and then finished off in Gwithian (Cornwall).
The thing with these boards is that their scope covers
everything from Ho’okipa to Shoreham, and to give an accurate
test of how they perform you really have to put them through
their paces at more than one location. And we’re sure glad that
we did. If we’d written this test off the back of our first trip to
Tenerife, the conclusions would have been a little different.
It takes time to get to know these boards, adjust to them and
learn how to set them up for the best results. Not only that,
but it’s not a raw performance result we’re looking for – we’re
looking to capture the character and style of the board, and
that isn’t easy or quick.
WHAT IS THIS TEST GROUP?
These are the most radical waveboard lines from each
of the manufacturers. That’s what we asked for, and
this is what they gave us. We told them we were looking
for something around the 75L mark, and that they’d be
tested mostly with 4.0-5.0 sails in all conditions from
small cross-on waves to big down-the-line.
After a year of almost no wind it really doesn’t matter how
cold the water’s getting, it’s all about getting out, and
these are the perfect boards to meet those winter gales
with some serious intent.
There are so many variables in windsurfing that we feel
it’s important to minimise them as much as possible when
testing. As such, these waveboards have been tested using
identical rigs to ensure that the rig is playing no part in any
We chose to use the new 2011 Goya Eclipse wave sails for
this test. They have really good bottom end power, tunability
and range. You can check out a full test on the 4.7 and 5.3
in previous ssues. A big thank-you to Goya Windsurfing for
their help in supplying these rigs.
With the wind drought we all suffered through the
summer, we decided to take these boards to Tenerife in
July to kick-start this test into action. Since then we’ve
clocked up some serious miles hitting various locations
in the UK. We’d like to thank the OTC for all their help
and patience while the Clone test team were in their
Tenerifian residence. We’d also like to thank Anthony at
apartamentosmedano.com. He’s an ex-World Tour
wavesailor and now the man to speak to if you want to rent
a place in Médano. Thanks for sorting us out!
» Now proceed to the overview page!