Board Test (8)
The term “freestyle-wave” is now commonly found proudly displayed on the decks of many boards with volumes ranging from 75 to 95 litres. However, in our experience, despite the term clearly being in vogue at the moment with the designers and manufacturers, it’s downright off-putting to many ordinary sailors. This test looks at a variety of Freestyle-Waves (FSW) and a few Wave boards with volumes of around 85 litres, to find out exactly what’s going on, and who they’re really relevant for...
What’s in a Name? The most exciting development in small all-round high performance boards is the Freestyle-Wave (FSW) class, which has appeared over the past few years and is now supported by most of the major brands. Oh really, you may be thinking? Doesn’t sound very exciting to me... Indeed, the name is actually likely to be the biggest problem for the class, as there’s a very high likelihood that it will automatically disconnect the boards from the aspirations of most UK sailors. Let’s face it – the majority of the windsurfers in this country don’t actually do much freestyle; certainly not enough to justify buying a board designed with it (allegedly) specifically in mind. The majority of sailors in the UK also don’t do all that much wavesailing. This is mostly from lack of opportunity – if we lived in Maui we’d all be rippers, but we don’t; except for the lucky few folk who live on the best bits of the west coast and have plenty of spare time, good waves are a bit of a rarity. Consequently, while the name ‘freestyle-wave’
has been almost universally adopted by the industry as the cool new style of board, it hasn’t really been taken to the hearts of the great British windsurfing public. In short, these boards are not selling in the numbers they should be. Most ordinary windsurfers don’t get enough time on the water to be freestyle or wave superstars. Most are also honest enough to admit this to themselves and simply want to sail a board that suits their standard and meets their requirements. But actually – this is exactly what the freestyle-wave class will do. These boards are by far and away the most relevant class of 75-95 litre boards on the market, and judging by the findings of our guesters (spanning an impressive range of weights, abilities, ages and sizes) also the most universally liked. The boards in this test have much more to do with real all-round boards than what most people might understand as ‘freestylewave’ performance. This test is about boards that are capable of blasting in and out, jumping well, gybing well, planing early and easily and basically doing a bit of everything. And not surprisingly, the wave and freestyle aspects are well catered for too! These boards could just be called “all-rounders”, a name that describes most of the designs here really well but is, to say the least, a bit passe and dull (and confusing due to its application to much bigger boards as well). As the alternative we’ve got the “freestyle-wave” tag, off-putting to many but now almost universally adopted by the manufacturers as it’s more trendy and exciting. So I guess we’re stuck with it, but please, don’t let it put you off!
FREESTYLE-WAVE FRENZY ON TEST: AHD MX 84 F2 Style 250 Fanatic Goya Freewave 84 JP Freestyle Wave 84 Naish Supercross 250 RRD FSW M Tabou Rocket Wave 85 F2 Maui Project Wave 8’4” Mistral Beast 83 Starboard Evo 80
HEAVIER / LIGHTER SAILORS One of the most common questions asked in relation to board size is – should a heavier / lighter sailor simply go up / down a board size? This is an almost impossible question to answer accurately as there are so many variables at play, but our best advice is a cautious yes. Our heaviest tester, Jem (at 85kg+ ) firmly believed the 95 litre boards to be better with 5.5-6.0m sails, while our 2 lighter testers (75-80kg) believed the 85 litre boards to offer much better performance. It would also seem logical that people weighing less than 70kg might find a 75 litre version pretty good, and all three of our favourites from this test are now available in 75-77L versions as well as 95 litre versions (and some of these will be tested next month.)