Jun 19, 2009
Put to the Test at Punta San Carlos
Ask and you will receive. Windsport’s veteran test crew asked for true waveboards that can handle the real down-the-line conditions found at Punta San Carlos, California, and we scored big time with 11 very wave-capable sticks to play with for a few weeks. To help breakdown these boards into similar categories we’re mostly looking at the way they bottom turn on a wave. Some prefer a tighter pivoting turn with weight on the back foot, while others do better with a more drawn-out turn from weight being placed on the front foot.
Windsport’s New Test Format:
As you can tell by all the words in this test write-up, we put a lot of effort into our tests. From the head-to-head breakdown to each individual board’s review, a ton of on-water testing, discussion, measuring and research goes into the Windsport testing format. However, it has been brought to our attention that sometimes readers don’t have time to do all this reading. In response, we are introducing a graph at the bottom of each board’s review highlighting their strengths.
Onshore These conditions, where the wind and waves are traveling in the same direction, require a board that is capable of a tight radius bottom turn to fit into the wave. But since waves in onshore conditions are rarely clean it’s worth sacrificing wave riding performance for early planing and acceleration.
Sideshore When the wind direction is basically perpendicular to the waves it’s easy to find power for planing and acceleration, so board designers focus more on wave performance. A tight bottom turn is needed to reach the lip easily, but it’s also nice to have a board with a lively ride to take advantage of the accompanying perfect jumping conditions.
Side-off These are the conditions that you find at the world’s best wavesailing locations, like Punta San Carlos. Here the wind blows at an angle between sideshore and straight offshore, allowing you too easily generate speed on the wave. You always have the wind to tap into if needed, even when you’re going up to hit the lip. Since speed and acceleration is easily found on the wave it’s more important to find a board offering control and balance.
Ease of Ride Due to today’s variety of shapes for different style of wavesailors, some will have you ripping right away while others will take time to dial-in their full potential.
Small Wave The average wavesailor doesn’t get to sail the perfect waves of Punta San Carlos every session. Knowing a board’s small-wave potential can be helpful, but remember that judging a small wave can be subjective depending on a rider’s size.
Within our group of 11 test boards, two cater to those mainly riding onshore waves, six are all-around or all-wave shapes that excel in sideshore conditions but can be further broken down by their radius of bottom-turn, and there are three boards that truly let you charge San Carlos’ supreme down-the-line (DTL) side-off conditions.
The two onshore boards are the quickest planers in the test and also offer performance that a bump-and-jump sailor will appreciate. On a clean wave these larger feeling boards are not as loose and nimble as the others, but their rail still holds better than the typical freestyle wave design. In onshore conditions you don’t really get to set up a true bottom turn, so a tight back-foot turn can get you to the lip while quick acceleration helps you keep your speed immediately after.
The F2 Rebel is not only a good onshore performer but it can also double as either a great first-time sinker board for intermediates or an excellent highwind freestyle board for the more advanced rider. The Tabou Pocket Wave is a little better in the waves with a tighter turn and less effort needed to set the rail. It’s also more responsive to trim work, making it a board that better rewards more advanced riders. It too can double as highwind freestyle if needed.
The majority of the test boards have performance characteristics that shine in all conditions. They are one-board wonders for sailors who need a board to take full advantage of the perfect days while still letting you make the most of all the days in-between. All these boards tolerate a pivoting back-foot turn to let you have fun in onshore waves, and all will still hold speed through a bottom turn on a big side-off day as well. On the onshore day you may wish for a little tighter turn or more acceleration off-the-top, while on the side-off day their liveliness may make you a little hesitant as you set the rail. Of these six test boards there is a trade-off made between turning radius and liveliness. Some tolerate more pressure from your back foot while others stay more controllable when setting up for a bottom turn.
The Exocet U-Surf II is the widest board in the test and feels big, but with a great turn off the back foot it will make the most of small waves and lighter winds. Mistral’s Twinzer, with its narrower tail, turns within an incredibly tight arc and works well in larger waves. Some time is needed to get used to its quirky ride, but once dialed-in it has no limits. Both the Fanatic NewWave and JP-Australia Twinser Wave turn well off both the front and back foot making them true one-board wonders for any wave. The Fanatic gets the nod as the better sideshore waveboard with a looser ride that translates into tighter turns. The JP Twinser shows up the NewWave on flatter water though, with a directional ride that rivals that of any freestyle wave board for speed and jumping.
Compared to pure waveboards from only a couple years ago, the RRD Wave Cult and Quatro Wave would easily match their down-the-line performance. The Wave Cult planes so much easier though that it allows you to take full advantage of any ramps for jumping in sideshore conditions. The single fin Quatro Wave is the easiest board in the test for down-the-line riding. In a smaller size it likely would have been placed with the side-off boards, but with a tail that can support a back foot turn when needed it seems better suited to good sideshore wave conditions.
Down-the-line (DTL) boards are designed for side-off conditions present in places like Punta San Carlos. With a long peeling wave and wind in your sail all the way to the lip, it’s easy to find speed so control becomes a more sought-after commodity. Having the board roll smoothly onto the rail, with minimal effort and body movement, not only gives you control through a bottom turn it means that you’re less likely to find yourself over-committing once you reach the top. Control also makes these the boards of choice in bigger waves regardless of wind direction.
DTL boards have seen some notable changes in design over the last five years as riding styles have progressed. More traditional riding revolves around a high-speed drawn-out bottom turn, while today the new-school rider is trying to see how deep into the pocket they can crank a bottom turn and still hit the lip. Of our three, it’s easy to find your ideal match as they each have a very different bottom turn.
The Naish Wave has a very traditional feel on the wave with a more drawn-out bottom turn. It begs you to carry as much speed as possible at all times and when things go right there is no bigger reward from any other board. As a bonus, the speed of the Naish makes it a decent big swell bump-and-jump board as well. In the Goya Custom Wave we find a not-too-tight and not-too-wide bottom turn that seems to always have us at the lip in the perfect spot. Off the top it is very predictable and controllable with only the Starboard Evil Twin coming around with similar control. The Evil Twin rules the cutback and its bottom turn can be the tightest of the three, but it likes some help from a reasonable size wave to keep up speed through the turn.
Test Editor: Derek Rijff
Test Team: Kyle Brazell, Paddy Buckley, Cliff Cordy, Pete DeKay, Daniel Macaulay, Derek Rijff