Exocet have two styles of wave board in their range, the X-Wave and the U-Surf, both offered in two constructions; Wood/Carbon and Carbon/Technora (Pro Model).
The X-Wave is the all-round wave board, whilst the U-Surf, which is new this year, leans more towards riding. Exocet chose to send us the U-Surf 76 for this test in Pro Model construction.
" Classic wave riding in anything from big hollow surf to small mushy waves. The aggressive squash tail provides flawless release. Snappy and manoeuvrable, the U-surf shatters the myth that only narrow boards turn. A true surfboard feeling " – Exocet Website
The Exocet achieved a SILVER Quality rating with the following scores:
Whilst an attractive board to look at, there are a few details that let the quality rating of the Exocet down against some of the other boards.
The straps are poor and feel like they are made for size 15 feet. The screw holes are a massive 16cm apart (2cm more than some of the other boards in this group) and the straps themselves feel wide and unrefined. Luckily UK importer Surf Sales has stepped in and is offering a free upgrade to DaKine Primo straps upon request. We recommend you take it!
The shape of the Exocet is quite unique. It is both the shortest and widest board in the test. It is a remarkable 12cm shorter than the Fanatic yet 3.5cm wider (maximum width).
Perhaps most noteworthy of all is the tail width which at 38.2cm is nearly 6cm wider than the Quatro!
Despite its generous width, it has the second lowest volume in the test.
The Exocet scores mid-group for get up and go. Its certainly easy to get planing on and no slouch in a straight line, but with it's smaller fin and easier going nature it's not quite as quick off the blocks as boards like the Fanatic and JP.
The U-Surf’s wider shape gives it great stability on approach to the wave and in the air the board is nice and compact. If your priority is boosting the biggest airs possible, then you may crave for a little more speed but overall there can be very little criticism of the boards jumping qualities.
Less experienced riders will find the U-Surf an extremely well-mannered board in cross on conditions. It has a smooth and settled feel to the way it turns and is more tolerant of clumsy technique than some of the twitchier, more sensitive boards in this group. It holds speed well through the turns, but isn’t quite as versatile or snappy as the front runners of the group.
More advanced sailors will notice the slight lack of looseness and ‘snap’ and would perhaps be better looking at Exocets X-Wave (or one of the other boards in this group) if they sail in predominantly cross-on conditions.
The U-Surf is such an easy and forgiving board to ride waves on and is great fun for all abilities. Exocet claim ‘a true surfboard feeling’ and they aren’t wrong. Its got such a brilliant, smooth flowing nature to the way it rides. In small waves it shines for it's ability to hold speed even on the softest of waves and in bigger conditions, for it's reliability and stability through manoeuvres.
Being critical, the U-Surf is not quite as snappy and ‘loose’ as some of the other boards in this group (particularly noticeable on smaller, softer waves where you are forcing turns more), but only wave sailors of fairly high skill level are likely to pick up on this. Advanced sailors will however love the way you can attack the vertical sections of more powerful waves, where the board offers a huge amount of control and stability.
First and foremost, the U-Surf is perfect for less experienced wave sailors who will really enjoy the relaxed, easy going sailing style of the board and its ability to maintain speed through turns.
The U-Surf also accommodates the more experienced rider with its unique surfing sensation and stability when smacking the lip of more powerful waves.
In the motor industry, the Germans are renowned for their impeccable attention to detail, engineering precision and class leading performance, whilst the French vehicles are generally recognised for their style, comfort and ‘out there’ thinking.
Just as Citroën revolutionised passenger comfort with their air suspension, Exocet seem to have brought a formula to board design that makes their boards (at least the ones we have tried so far), sail with a level of ease, comfort and control that is unique to the brand. The U-Surf is no exception and is without doubt the most ‘easy going’ board of the group.
Unfortunately for Exocet, the parallels don’t quite stop there. Another thing the French are renowned for in their cars is poor build quality. Whilst the hull of the Exocet appears as well built and robust as any other board in test, the foot straps are a real let down. There is no excuse (particularly for a brand as established as Exocet) for making straps like this and anyone buying the board would be well advised to upgrade. As mentioned above, if you are in the UK, you can take advantage of the free upgrade (to DaKine Primo straps) that UK importer Surf Sales are offering.
As mentioned above, the footstrap fixtures are probably too wide for anyone sailing barefoot or in boots with small to medium sized feet. It is actually possible to fix this to some extent. The back strap can be fixed by using two holes that are closer together (eg back of front insert and second from back of rear insert), whilst the front straps can be made tighter by using large penny washers on each of the screws, which effectively squeezes the strap closer together and makes it narrower for the foot.
The U-Surf comes standard with a 21.5cm fin, which seems to suit the boards style nicely. It’s a little bit smaller than most of the fins supplied with the other boards and for early planing/big sails, a 22.5/23cm will boost performance a bit, but otherwise the standard fin is a nice match.
The mast track seemed to work best around middle to 1cm further back. The fin track is especially long, so positioning is critical. Luckily Exocet have put a trim guide on there recommending the best positions for onshore and cross shore riding – a nice touch.
The U-surf was well matched to our 4.0m- 5.0m test sails. In light of the great control that the Exocet offers, a 3.7m would probably work ok (but a smaller board would be a better option if you plan using this size of sail regularly) and up to 5.5m would be possible at a push.
A lot of people will enjoy the U-Surf thanks to its user-friendly characteristics, hence suiting less experienced riders in a whole range of conditions.
More advanced riders will find the board most appealing in side shore conditions.
A new set of footstraps and a 22.5cm fin for lighter/onshore conditions.