Fanatic have a strong pedigree within Freestyle. Having just signed Marcilio Browne, they now have 06 (Gollito), 07 (Marcilio) and 08 (Gollito) World Champions on their brand. There are few more credible endorsements than having Freestyle World Champions sailing your boards but even without this the Fanatic Skate has established itself over the years as a pedigree performer offering ease of sailing combined with a great turn of performance.
The Skate is offered in two sizes (98 and 108) and in two constructions: Team Edition and Wood Sandwich. This test looks at the Team Edition (lightest construction) 98 litre Skate.
"With riders like 2006/7 EFPT Champion Andre Paskowski on the team, using production boards full time, we need extremely competitive shapes. Yet our Skate remains an extremely easy board to ride, even for Freestyle newcomers.
For amateurs and pros alike, planing, pop for jumping and unrivalled agility are the key, these are the aspects we have improved." – Fanatic website
The quality of Fanatic boards is very high at the moment and the Skate is another fine example of this achieving a GOLD quality rating:
The Fanatic footstraps are very good. They have a slight rigidity to them which works well for freestyle where you want the actions of your foot to be transferred directly into what the board does. Boot wearers should beware that they have the narrowest spacing between inserts of all the boards (14.5cm), so you could find them a tight fit if you have big feet.
The pads are very soft and comfortable but we would prefer just a little more texture to aid grip for freestyle manoeuvres.
The Fanatic Skate is one of the narrowest and shortest boards in the test with the narrowest tail width of all the boards. Don’t be misled by this however, as the Skate doesn’t feel as small underfoot as the numbers might indicate. It certainly feels bigger (in terms of volume and useful size) than the Mistral and Starboard.
True to form of the Team Edition models we have tested this year, the Skate tips the scales as the lightest board in the test at 5.87 kg.
The Fanatic, Starboard, Goya and Mistral all scored jointly for new school basic freestyle (vulcans, spocks, grubbys and flakas). There are subtle differences to the way they perform, but generally, all boards delivered the same level of performance, meaning a rider of a certain ability is likely to perform at the same level on all of the four boards.
The Skate pops well. The nose feels wide, flat and stable in the slide and the board feels short and compact which is nice in spinning manoeuvres.
For advanced freestyle (shakas, ponches, switch stance etc) the Skate benefits from its good carving abilities – important when initiating many of the more advanced moves – and flat deck, giving a nice foot position in switch stance.
The Skate feels slightly less reactive and agile than the Mistral, hence it scoring just slightly lower than the category winning board.
There is no question that the Skate is the best board in the test for carving. Some of the freestyle boards here are not at all happy at carving, but the Skate is so good it could give some Freestyle/Wave boards a run for their money.
We liked the Skate because it gripped without hesitation, can carve tightly and allowed the rider to adjust the carve radius through the turn.
In a straight line, the Skate is as fast as any other board in the test and gives the impression of a limitless top speed. The Skate is very settled and even in the biggest gusts, the nose stays down and the board keeps powering along.
It was a very forgiving board to sail and due to its great carving attributes (detailed below), it is a great choice if you are progressing from a Freeride board into Freestyle.
If we are being highly critical, the low nose makes chop hopping a little harder than most of the other designs in test as it feels like it punches through the small bits of chop rather than lifting over the top. Its not a major factor, but is noticeable when comparing these boards side by side.
With our smaller freestyle fins (18 and 20cm) the board did feel a little unbalanced in a straight line making you put a bit more force through your back foot to keep the board tracking straight and the nose up. Bringing the mast track further back goes some way to compensating for this but doesn’t eradicate the situation completely. Using the standard (25cm fin) did eliminate the sensation.
The Skate feels light, stiff and fast underfoot. As mentioned above, it stands out from the others because of its slightly more ‘planted’ ride, with the nose sitting lower than the other boards.
It is a forgiving, likeable feel to the way it sails and is an accomplished all-rounder, making it hard to criticise any one aspect of its performance. You will be hard pressed not to like this board!
The pads and straps are extremely comfortable, although some people who are used to other brands of board may notice the lack of texture on the pads. Boot wearers may also detect the narrow spacing of the footstrap plugs, which at 14.5 cm are the narrowest of the group.
The Fanatic comes standard with a 25cm G10 fin, which although we thought would be too big for sliding freestyle, actually worked ok. It’s a nice fin for all-round use, but if your hell bent on new school freestyle then use a shorter fin – we used 20cm, but go as short as you dare!
We used the Skate with sails from 4.7m up to 6.2m. At the top end, it was still perfectly controllable with a 4.7, yet was one of the best at carrying the bigger sails also, giving it good range.
The mast track seemed best positioned around the middle. We did find ourselves bringing it a little further back (up to 2 cm) with the smaller fin and sails.
Fanatic have done a great job with the Skate, which is why the model range is already regarded with such great acclaim. It is the best all-rounder in this test (jointly with the JP). If you are progressing from a freeride board and want to work on carving manoeuvres like the 360 and duck gybes etc etc, as well as new school sliding moves, the Skate hits the nail on the head!
A 20cm (or smaller) fin for new school freestyle.