The Naish Global Freeride is touted as the “ultimate freeride performance” board of the Naish range. For lighter wind and flat water, Naish would suggest their Freewide range instead.
It’s perhaps no surprise therefore that the Naish looks quite manoeuvre-orientated compared to many of the others here. At 115 litres it’s the smallest board of the group and by far the narrowest, with a tail width nearly 8cm less than the widest board here. That’s quite a difference, but Naish were still keen to pitch this board against the rest of this group, particularly as their Freewide 120 had already been favourably tested in a previous issue.
So, let’s get the size issue out of the way first. This board really is too small to fairly match the rest of this test group. It may only be a few litres smaller, but in practice it feels a lot smaller, particularly when not planing. Most of the other boards in this group can support an 80kg Clone standing comfortably with both feet behind the mast-track not planing. The Naish, however, feels very low volume in the tail in comparison, and is the only board that properly sinks at the tail unless you stand near the mast-track (with an 80kg rider). It’s not just a matter of the volume being less, but the shape itself is quite narrow-tailed, which means that if you’re thinking of buying a Global Freeride you should probably err towards the larger size of the volume range you may be considering. (In this case 130L.) All further comments will therefore take into account that the board is smaller than the others.
Once on the water the feeling of the board is quite different to the others. It’s a very lively ride in a straight line. At speed, most of the boards have a very stable ‘skimming’ feel to them, whereas the Naish feels more like a big waveboard might – i.e. comparatively very manoeuvrable and responsive underfoot and not as stable or directional at speed.
The Naish was much more comfortable with our 6.2m test sails than the 7.2s, but surprisingly (considering its size) that lively ride didn’t allow it to reap the expected rewards in the control stakes. It’s possible that using a smaller fin would help in this respect, as proportionally the supplied fin is the largest of the group considering the width of the tail.
Early planing was obviously going to suffer against the rest of this group on account of the board’s size. However, the narrow tail and slightly heavier weight also took their toll on acceleration, making the Naish noticeably the slowest of the group to get up to top speed.
It’s fair to say that it wasn’t looking so great for the Naish – until we started to gybe it. In the gybes that narrow tail really starts to justify itself. It’s extremely responsive underfoot and can carve as tightly as any board here. It’s a fun board to crank gybes on, especially in rougher water off bits of swell or chop.
Bearing in mind that it’s probably a little too small for this test group, the Global Freeride is a board that leans very heavily towards the corners rather than the straights. It’s lively (and somewhat traditional feeling) in a straight line, and can crank gybes as hard as anything here in the hands of a competent rider. If straight line performance and ease of planing is more your thing, you should definitely take a look at the Naish Freewide range.