After a few quiet years, Drops are back in the UK with a new importer.
The Naked is their Freeride range and comes in four sizes; 105, 112. 128 and 144 Litres. The boards are offered in one construction (produced in the same Tunisian factory as AHD) and come complete with a free boardbag (in the UK).
We have tested the 128 model shaped by Mario Vinti.
"Naked boards are high performance feeride boards, fast, easy and extremely manoeuvrable. A new generation of freerides: wider and shorter, that reach very high top speeds and (especially the two smaller models) can be used for freestyle manoeuvres." – Drops Website
The DROPS achieved a SILVER Quality rating with the following scores:
The Drops comes standard with a Select 38cm Select fin. The fin suits the board well, and proved to be a good all-round size.
2 points were awarded for the ‘Other Extras’ category because a centre rear strap is offered for novice planers and a free board bag is included within the price. A nice touch indeed.
In terms of volume, the Drops is the biggest board in test. It is also the 3rd shortest, so quite a compact shape. On the water, the board didnít feel as big as you would expect. It certainly felt smaller in feel than the Tabou, Fanatic and F2 which all have similar quoted volumes. This may however be down to the different orientation and shape of the board.
The Drops is an easy board to get planing. With its higher volume, flattish deck and inboard footstrap positions, the board is technically very easy to plane.
The wide low nose and shoulders are a little sticky to release at times, which is the only factor that prevents the board scoring a little higher.
The Drops excels not for its ultimate top speed, but for its comfort at speed. It really is a relaxed and comfortable ride – possibly more so than any other board in test.
The fin is nicely powerful and the board performs particularly well upwind. Top speed downwind is slightly limited by the shoulders on the board which feel a bit catchy when driven hard off the wind.
Some boards get nasty when the conditions get rough, but the Drops definitely belongs to the group that gets fun!
With the straps being fairly inboard, you have a nice neutral stance allowing you to control how hard you want to drive the board. This is a great feature in rougher conditions as some of the boards in this group have no option but to be driven hard, which isn’t always what you want when faced with tough conditions!
The Drops is a fun board to gybe. It has the flexibility to turn at full speed off the rail or to crank tighter turns off your back foot. The footstraps are well positioned for gybing, giving a more central stance and allowing you to enter gybes with either full commitment or less, should the situation require it.
In a similar way to the Goya, the great responsiveness of the gybe for more advanced riders is what lets the board down in the hands of slightly less experienced riders. Less nimble boards are numbed down by their lack of responsiveness and offer very stable turning platforms. These more manoeuvre orientated boards are certainly easy to gybe (and an early stage gyber will progress amicably with them), but they are just not quite as tolerant of poor technique.
The first thing you notice about the Drops Naked is that it has a very unique freeride/freestyle feel to it. The board is compact, the nose is relatively wide and your stance is comparatively inboard and neutral. It’s a nice sensation that gives the board a pleasant ‘easy going’ nature.
On smooth water, the ride is probably the most comfortable and effortless within the group. You really wonder what all the fuss is about as you blast along enjoying the ride.
When conditions get a bit lumpier, the shoulders are noticeably catchier than on most of the other boards. The consequences are not disastrous, it just gives a more ‘sticky’ feeling to the ride, which again falls in line with the freestyle emphasis of the board.
Foot comfort is fairly good. The straps are comfortable, the pads are decent, but when blasting hard you will notice the straps a little more inboard and the deck a little flatter than most.
The standard Select 38cm, does the job well. It’s quite a full-on shape and a more forgiving fin may make the board even more user friendly.
Drops claim the board will complement a sail range of 5.8-8.0m. We would agree with this recommendation but believe you could go slightly smaller (on sheltered waters) if you need to. Certainly down to 5.5m
We found the mast track to work best just aft of the track centre (about 1cm) for our 6.2m sails and just forward of the centre for our 7.7m test rigs.
The Drops would appeal to two types of rider; Firstly the ambitious freeride sailor with aspirations towards freestyle. This board will get you through the basics of freeride amicably, with enough freestyle performance to initiate you into the discipline. Alternatively, the Drops will appeal to someone looking for a well mannered freeride board for blasting and gybing. It has plenty of performance to keep you entertained around the corners, combined with a delightfully controlled ride in a straight line.
Perhaps a freestyle fin for those hell-bent on getting into the discipline.