Our policy of testing in British conditions has again reaped rewards allowing us to put these boards through their paces in a huge range of conditions.
They were tested in the cross-on conditions of Rhosneigr, the small cross-off conditions of Dinas Dintle (both North Wales) and the bigger, logo high, cross-off conditions of Tiree, Scotland.
We were looking for a 75 litre wave board with great all-round appeal; a board that could be used in the predominantly cross-on conditions of the UK but also shine in the occasional cross-off conditions that grace our shores. We used a number of test Clones to help us determine which boards excel for different weights and abilities.
Now before you go thinking that boardseeker have gone all politically correct, please prepare yourself for the fact that this is a very good group of boards. It's clear that a lot of work has gone into polishing these designs and we can honestly say that almost anybody would be happy buying any of the boards in this test. For sure there are differences to the way they sail with strengths and weaknesses to their performances but all in all, there really isn’t anything other than very good boards in this test.
The trick is to find the board that suits your style of sailing the best and that’s exactly what our interactive overview page should help you to do.
History of 75 litre all round wave boards
There was a time when there were only ‘radical’ wave boards. These were high rocker, narrow tailed, gunny boards designed for proper wave conditions.
But then things started to change. Five years ago, Starboard introduced the Evo, which didn’t really look like a wave board was supposed to look. It was short, wide and rounded and it was for novice wave riders. Or so everyone thought until Scott McKearcher won the PWA World wave title on it.
It quickly became apparent that there was something to be gained from this new style of board. Instead of only having one range of radical boards in their line-up, most brands introduced a new second range of wider, shorter boards.
Whilst easy to plane and great for helping you through your first turns, the first of these wider boards were a bit too ‘tank like’ and de-tuned to appeal to advanced riders. With time however the gap between the ‘radical’ wave boards and the ‘wider’ wave boards has become narrower.
The wider wave boards (eg JP Real World Wave, Starboard Evo, Fanatic Allwave) have now become a lot more all-round and can appeal to advanced riders just as much as the ‘radical’ line (eg JP Radical Wave, Fanatic NewWave). In fact, the gap between the two styles of board has become so small that in some cases, brands have chosen to swap back to offering just one line of ‘all-round’ wave boards.
Twin vs Single
Just when everything was starting to get simple, along came Twin Fins. As we found from our 80-85 litre Twin fin test and ‘The truth about twin fins’ feature they are more than just hype. In 80-85 litre size they really do seem to offer a distinct advantage for riding in cross-on (and cross–off) conditions.
Interestingly in this 75 litre test, only Quatro chose to send us a Twin Fin as an ‘all-round’ wave board. Every other brand stuck with their single fin range. It’s hard to speculate at this stage where the future of Twin fins lies. In larger sizes, they do make the boards looser and help to keep speed through turns. In smaller sizes, it’s questionable whether you need the board to be looser (small boards are already pretty loose). Our guess is that we will see Twin Fins becoming the mainstream wave board for most brands in sizes over 80ish litres in years to come. Whether they also do this for their smaller sizes remains to be seen.
The Boards in this test
We invited the brands to submit, “An all-round 75 litre wave board that would work well in European cross-on conditions, but also occasionally down the line and should appeal to the widest range of user ability”
Each brand chose the board range that they thought most suited this specification. Starboard and JP went with the obvious options of Evo and Real World Wave. Fanatic chose their NewWave rather than Allwave range, RRD their Hard Core rather than Wave Cult , Exoet their U-Surf rather than X-Wave and Quatro went with their Wave Twin (twin fin) range.
Firstly Goya. Unfortunately Goya misinterpreted our spec and sent us the Custom 78 from their radical line instead of their One (all-round) range. We weren’t able to get hold of their 77 litre One in time for the test, but we have got our hands on one now, so hope to bring you first impressions within the next few weeks along with the Mistral RD 76.
Other boards missing include Tabou who didn’t quite have their Pocket wave ready in time for test and F2 who are having a later release on their 2009 boards.
The Criteria We Tested to
Each board was examined and rated for overall quality and fittings and tested on the water across 5 main performance criteria:
Get up and go – What is important to most wave sailors is not the absolute top speed of their board, or the early planing. Instead, the most important factor is how easily the board releases and accelerates to a good speed (particularly through shore break) and gets them ready for the first jump.
Jumping – A good board for jumping is a board that has good ‘get up and go', feels directional when lining up a wave, releases well from the wave and has good float and a feel in the air.
Cross-on riding – Cross-on riding is pretty self explanatory, and is usually a mixture of front side and back side riding. When riding front side, the sail is often powered up for a time between bottom turn and top turn in the clew first position. A good board should hold speed through turns, be comfortable in clew first position when the sail is powered up and be able to perform a tight radius top turn with ease.
Cross –shore riding – Again pretty self-explanatory with the wind from the side or side-off, and predominantly front side riding. The main difference is that you stay on the wave a lot more and can use the wave to generate speed more easily. Boards that excel in cross-off conditions, need control at speed, are comfortable in both wider and tighter turns and transition easily from turn to turn.
User Range – Some boards are best suited to less experienced sailors whilst others to more advanced sailors. This criteria was introduced to illustrate which ability/s of sailor each board is most suited to.
So which was the best board?
As far as we are concerned there is no one ‘best’ board. We tested boards across a set of performance criteria (described above) and ranked them for performance within each.
Using this information we are able to help you choose which is the best board for you. Your priority might be to have the fastest board in the test, or the best for cross-shore riding, or perhaps even the prettiest or cheapest. There is no one board that does it all.
Instead, we have set up the Overview Page to allow you to easily pick the best board for you, based upon the criteria that you consider most important. Using a number of filters, you will easily be able to identify the best board/s for your needs.
It is important when doing comparative testing between boards to eliminate as many variables as possible. We chose to use identical Gaastra Manics as our test sails on the boards.
The Manics are renowned for their effortless handling and good wind range. We had two quivers of 4.0, 4.5 and 5.0m sails to put the 75 litre boards through their paces on. Combined with Gaastra RDM masts and extensions, they were great rigs that allowed us to get on with the job of testing without concern.
As usual, we chose to use MFC as our test quiver of fins. It’s a real benefit to be able to try the boards with different sizes and styles of fin. The MFC 2K is the benchmark all-round wave fin, so we choose a set of 20.5, 21, 21.5, 22 and 23cm for our quiver.