The Exocet Cross 118 is the manoeuvre orientated freeride board from Exocet. It sits as the largest in a range of 4 boards spanning 84-118 litres of volume. The board is offered in standard construction (as tested) or as a carbon Pro-Model version.
All the boards in the range are shaped by Patrice Belbeoch.
"Compact, comfortable control. Meet the Cross. An exceptionally early planer that slashes burns and slides. From first time shortboarders, to all-round coastal sailors new school freestylers or heavyweight waveheads. On any given day, these 4 truly adaptable machines will appeal to everyone." – Exocet Website
The Exocet achieved a GOLD Quality rating with the following scores:
Unfortunately the footstraps on the Exocet are virtually unuseable for anyone with average to large feet (or wearing boots). The insert of the strap adjusts with no problem, but the neoprene cover won't stretch big enough to close once the strap has been enlarged. The problem has apparently been addressed for next year and in the meantime, the UK importer is offering a free upgrade to DaKine Primo straps, which has salvaged a 2 point rating for the footstraps.
A point was scored in 'Other Extras' for offering a central back strap option for novice planers.
This is a compact board. It is the shortest in the test (at 241cm), yet the second widest (at 69.5cm), narrower only than the Starboard. The Cross also has the widest tail with a '30cm off' measurement of 46.9cm.
Despite its generous width, it has the second lowest volume in the test.
With regard to technique, the Exocet is an easy board to get planing on. Your feet are positioned well inboard thanks to the footstraps, and the board doesn’t need to be headed off the wind in order to get going.
Despite the easy technique, the board is however noticeably sticky to release. Even once it gets its initial release the Cross remains quite pedestrian in reaching a decent planing speed. Having the smallest fin in the test (36cm) is certainly not going to help, but we do feel that its shortcomings are more down to the hull shape rather than the fin size.
Apparently, ‘speed kills’. If you live your life by this motto, then the Exocet is your kind of board. Like a true Frenchman, this board takes it easy.
When the alarm clock goes and the first gust of wind blows, the rest of this group start racing, chasing and generally living a life of hectic mayhem. Instead, the Exocet takes a big yawn, heads for the nearest Café and sits back to enjoy the race from the comfort of its deckpads.
In truth, it’s not going to win you any races, but if relaxed, comfortable cruising is your thing then you won’t be disappointed.
Control is something this board excels at. So much so that it’s our second best board for high wind control in chop and waves.
As we identified above, it’s not a blasting board and this pays dividends when conditions get gnarly. Your stance is more neutral, your feet are more inboard and with it's compact shape, the board has a delightfully controllable feel to it. In fact it feels almost like a freestyle/wave board to sail. When other boards are starting to get scary, the Exocet is lapping up the fun!!
Now we’re talking. This board turns sharper than a Clio on a skid pan and with twice as much fun!
Two of our Clones were adamant that it was the most fun board they had ever gybed. It really is incredible at gybing, so it was without hesitation that it came out top of the group.
Usually the responsive boards that fair well in our ‘advanced gybing’ category do not fair so well in this category as they prove too lively for novice gybers. The Exocet is an exception however. It has the responsiveness to entertain even the best gybers on the water, but thanks to its wide tail, inboard straps and impeccable gybing manners, it proves a very stable, predictable and forgiving turning platform for beginner and intermediate gybers.
Ride comfort is unsurpassed. With it's wide short plan shape, it feels like you are hovering along the surface of the water and no gust, chop or wave is going to upset the journey. It’s an extremely comfortable ride (if not a little sedentary) at 70-80% top speed. Once you try to push it harder than this, you will notice the inboard position of the straps making foot comfort a bit inadequate and the board feels generally reluctant to be pushed hard.
Even when way overpowered on 6.2 we never felt the 36cm fin getting too big. At the other end of the spectrum, in lighter winds and flatter water with the 7.7m, we would have liked a slightly bigger fin. The 36cm coped ok, but a 38 would have done the job better (and maybe helped the early planing a little).
Exocet claim a sail range of 4.7-7.5m. The board was certainly capable of taking our 7.7m’s (although we wouldn’t want to go any bigger), and with its outstanding high wind control and 32cm fin we have no reason to doubt that it could take a 4.7m if necessary.
With 6.2m sails we found the mast track position to work best around 134cms and a couple of cm’s further forward with our 7.7m’s
The board doesn’t have the option of inboard/outboard straps, coming with just one position. The position does match the characteristics of the board well though.
If you get your fun from turning rather than blasting, then we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this board to you, particularly if you are at a coastal venue, plan on using sails smaller than 7.5m and maybe even venturing into a little bit of wave riding. The board is suitable for heavyweights or lightweights alike, but if you are heavy footed, remember that this is one of the more reluctant boards when it comes to early planing.
Get a new set of footstraps (the free upgrade to DaKine Primos is a good choice). If you plan using bigger sails a lot, then a 38cm fin would be a nice addition.