I was given a ride on the new Fanatic Falcon 113 today. I rigged my 7.8 Ram early, screwed a 43cm Select S10 under the board and went out. The light wind performance is good given that the board feels really small for its size. It carries the 7.8m sail with the greatest of ease and feels really balanced with this sail and fin combo. The light wind test was quite harsh since there were no white caps to be seen but the board coped well and popped onto the plane as easily as my old 104 (no mean feat).
The wind picked up and suddenly the conditions went to steepish chop/overpowering wind speed. Nice!
The board keeps its composure no matter how hard you hit areas of chop and if it flies off the fin it self corrects immediately. This all gives a feeling of immense security and comfort. You can concentrate on maximizing speed without having to fight your equipment. Directional stability is phenomenal and minute changes in direction are achieved almost by thought. This allows you to pick the fast route through the peaks and troughs with no effort at all. Fantastic! Gybes are effortless whether in flat water or through chop as long as you enter with speed and commit fully. Don't hold back - the board is in its element when pushed and will reward your courage with the nicest carving gybes ever. I found that pressure on both front and back feet is perfectly balanced whether pinching upwind or screaming downwind. There is nothing more annoying than getting your new slalom board onto the water and finding that your front foot keeps dropping out of the strap. Not a problem with the Falcon.
I came in for a breather and had some good luck. Joos, who I mentioned in a previous post has found his new light wind board. He picked up a 2011 Tabou Manta 110l team edition for a good price and offered me a ride for a comparison with the Falcon. My lucky day! The Manta had a Vector Canefire 40cm under it so a nice comparison for the Select S10. The Tabou feels really small once under way just like the Falcon and handles chop at speed like a freeride board. It also carries the 7.8m sail beautifully. It feels a lot looser than the Falcon and I was not able to make the minute directional changes afforded by the Falcon but this probably boils down to a different style and getting used to the board. You may prefer this type of ride over the Falcon or vice versa. I could live very happily with either of these two awesome machines. Nice job Fanatic and nice job Tabou.
Riding these two boards brought home to me just how good the modern slalom board has become. The performance of these two boards is almost unbelievable when I compare them to my old Falcon 104. We need to give the PWA tour its due because the continuous quest for victory drives slalom board design higher and higher to the benefit of every performance orientated sailor.