on the beach
The Tabou Manta FR sits in the Tabou range between the Manta Race and the highly successful Rocket. It actually uses the same shape as the Manta Race board, but offers more tunability through a wider range of footstrap positioning options – outboard for speed, inboard for control and manoeuvrability.
In profile it’s the shortest board of the group (at 230.5cm) and jointly the widest at 68.8cm. It is supplied with a 40cm fin, has no cut-outs in the tail and, impressively, is the second lightest board of the group at 6.76kg.
The first thing you notice about the Manta FR is how controlled and comfortable it is to sail. The deckpads are by far the most cushioned of the test group and the straps are also very good. But it’s the design of the board that contributes mostly to the great control and comfort. The rougher and windier the conditions get, the more controlled (and faster) the Tabou becomes compared to the rest of the group. When overpowered in chop and rougher conditions it is the fastest board of the group thanks to its comfort and excellent control.
In more controlled conditions – flatter water and less powered up – the Manta is a very easy board to go fast on and requires less technique than most to get the best out of it. Even when you’re ‘just cruising’ on this board it’s going fast, whereas some of the other boards in this group need to be locked down with full concentration to get the best from them. The consequence of all this ease, comfort and control is that on flatter water and less powered conditions, the Tabou doesn’t have that extra boost of speed that a good sailor can squeeze out of a few of the other boards when required.
On the straights it sits nicely on the water in a very comfortable blasting position, driving off the tail but in full control. There’s no lifting, spin-out or wheelies when the gusts hit – just acceleration.
In the gybe the Tabou remains true to form, being extremely controlled, safe, predictable and easy to turn. It’s probably the easiest of all the boards here to gybe and maintains its speed through the turn better than any. However, where it lacks is when trying to turn through a tighter arc. The Tabou likes to set its arc and see you through the turn on that track. If you try and adjust midturn (as you might have to in a racing situation) or if you simply want to turn it more tightly, the Tabou definitely feels less agile than some of the other boards.
Tabou recommend a sail range of just 6.7 to 8.4m, but this does seem to lean towards the conservative side. We had this board fully stacked in head-high chop and swell with a 5.8 sail and suffered no control issues at all. You wouldn’t want to go much smaller than this as the balance of the board wouldn’t be right, but don’t be put off by the quoted 6.7 minimum sail size. We used the mast-track pretty much in the middle for all sizes of sail. You can nudge it forward a centimetre or two for more control or back a centimetre for a more responsive, ‘faster’ feel.
Ease of planing is good, but not ‘top of the pile’ as we might have expected considering it’s the widest board of the group. However, if you’re looking for the earliest planing performance with larger sails you should consider perhaps using a 42 or even 44cm fin. The Manta should handle this size of fin with ease (particularly if you’re heavy).
Weight (bare): 6.76kg
Range sizes: 100, 110, 115, 125, 135
There is no doubting the Manta FR is a potent board, but it’s the ease with which it achieves its performance that makes it most notable. It’s such a comfortable, controllable and easy board to get the best out of – both on the straights and around the corners. Advanced riders will love the control in rougher conditions, while less experienced riders are likely to get better speed and gybing performance from the Manta than from the more technical boards within this group thanks to its fantastic ease of use.