For 2008 the Z-Ride range has been revised with the addition of tail cut-outs and a slightly narrower nose and tail width. The line-up consists of 6 boards ranging from 165 litres down to 110 litres. Two constructions are offered; wood and limited. All shapes are by Roberto Ricci. We tested the 120 Wood version.
"If you want to go fast and then immediately turn around on the spot, accelerate and catch top speed in 2 seconds, then these are the perfect boards to do that! Incredible sportive feeling of accessible boards!" – RRD Website
first impressions, Fixtures & fittings
The Board comes standard with a 40cm rather sporty looking RRD fin. The RRD scored a point in ‘other extras’ for offering a central strap position for novice planers.
In terms of ‘bling’ factor, it was a tough judgement call between the Italian RRD and the jazzy French Tabou. After much deliberation, the Italians edged it with their racy paint job, large white deckpads and funky looking cut outs.
The Z-Ride is the second longest board in the test (to the JP), the second narrowest (only 2mm wider than the Bic) and has the narrowest 30cm width measurement of 43.5cm. This makes the RRD quite a gunny shape overall with the narrowest tail in the test.
ease of planning
The RRD is an effective board for early planing and scored in the top half of the group. It is slightly more technical than some of the other boards in that you have to bear off the wind a little more to get going. Also the combination of narrow tail width and large cut outs mean that you have to be light on your feet to avoid unbalancing the board. Luckily, the inboard strap position makes getting into the straps very easy, so it’s not too much of a problem.
Scoring in the top half of the group again, the RRD is a quick board. It is most competitive when comfortably powered up on flat water. It is more comfortable downwind than up, but as conditions get trickier, the board can get livelier and loses some of its advantage.
In stronger winds and choppier conditions, the lively nature of the board starts to become a hindrance to control and comfort. Fundamentally, the board is able to cope with the rougher conditions, but when pushing hard for maximum speed, the ride can become quite frantic and at times a little unpredictable.
advanced Carve gybe
At full speed, the RRD is a nice board to gybe. Its quite responsive underfoot, allowing the rider to adjust the radius of their turn mid-gybe and has a safe grippy feel to it.
There is however one over-riding problem that limited the score we gave it. In outboard position, the front footstrap is too outboard and actually catches the water. It’s not a problem if you keep your speed up through the gybe, but if you lose a bit of speed, try to gybe tighter, or just turn with a bit less commitment, the front strap catches the water and acts like a water break.
Positioning the straps inboard would be a solution to this, but unfortunately in our opinion the inboard positions are set a little too inboard for all-round performance (more on this later).
Beginner / intermediate gybe
With straps set inboard, the RRD is a nice board to learn to gybe on. Its gunny shape might fool you into thinking it’s going to be a bit frisky, but it isn’t. The Z-Ride offers quite a stable, tolerant turning platform which belies its smaller size.
overall feel, ride & foot comfort
First impressions are that the board means business. It feels lean, gunny and slalom-like. Its an exciting board to sail (particularly on flat water) where its lively ride keeps you entertained and gives you a feeling that there is always extra speed at hand if you work hard enough to get it.
Most boards when wound up, will require the rider to keep an element of attention on keeping them flat ie the nose down. The RRD and Naish however are unique in that they feel as though they have less transverse stability. In other words, the rider also has to pay attention to keeping them trimmed flat from rail to rail (with heel/toe pressure) much more than the other boards in this test.
We found the footstraps a little on the soft side. Functionally they are fine, but they give less feel and control of the board than you get with some of the stiffer straps on offer. We were not altogether happy with the positioning options. Outboard the straps are very race orientated (which could be ok because it’s quite a racy feeling board anyway), but as outlined above, we had problems with them catching the water when gybing. The inboard position is ok, but really it’s too inboard for comfortable blasting.
set up recommendations
The standard fin works fine and is a good size match for this board. For slightly more forgiving performance, you may wish to try a more swept back design. Our MFC Quiver fins gave the board a bit more versatility particularly when gybing.
RRD claim a sail range of 5.4-7.5m. We would recommend stepping this up by half a meter. The board coped amicably with our 7.7 test sails and gave us no reason to believe you couldn’t go bigger. At least up to 8.0m. On the windier side of the equation, the board did start to get a bit of a handful with our 6.2m test sails and we wouldn’t like to have gone much smaller unless on flat water.
We found the mast track to work well at around 133 cm with our 6.2m sails and 135cm with our 7.7m’s.
the target buyer
The Z-Ride is an exciting board to sail and will be most suitable for people who sail in flatter water locations.