As mentioned previously, the Tabou team is here with a selection of their 2013 equipment for testing and photo shoots. One of the ranges they brought is the new Speedster range. The Speedster is the new name for the current Manta Free Race and I was given the opportunity to test the 65/100. The boards will come in two constructions - Standard and Limited. This particular board was in the standard construction - very heavy for me but really cool looking with the new graphics. The fin was the T-Lab 38cm fin which comes with the board.
I borrowed a Remedy 6.4m sail from my friend Tim and took to the water. The board shot onto the plane immediately and accelerated smoothly to a really good speed. Once under way it seems to shrink and my impression is that it rides like a much smaller board (it is 65cm wide after all but feels more like a 61cm board). The front and back straps are quite far apart signalling that this is a serious speed machine and the raised foot pads give nice support under the toes - (not quite as good as the JP system but good enough). The deck has a great selection of fin screw holes so you will be able to get comfortable. As with most Tabou boards, the chop is dealt with easily and hitting it at speed gives absolutely no concerns. Keep the hammer down! Gybing is really easy providing you enter at speed and commit properly. The board seems to have better directional stability than the equivalent Rocket but this is to be expected given the slalom orientation of the design.
The wind and water states for the first few runs were perfect for easy, comfort zone cruising. Going as fast as the equipment could go with no worries about the chop. The stock fin behaved well and the characteristics of the Remedy with its its direct and instant acceleration seem to suit the board perfectly. The wind then picked up substantially and the state went from comfort zone to red zone - the way we tend to sail here. This was a much better test for the board and I started blasting. The board handled the new conditions with ease but the fin let the side down. Every time I hit a patch of chop and the board lightened, the fin would spin out and when this fin spins out it does not recover until you slow down completely. I spent much of the next few runs going sideways which was exhausting and no fun at all in the white knuckle conditions.
The board then, gets a big thumbs up from me. If you are in the market for one, please factor in a proper fin. This is a high performance machine and it deserves a high tech foil. I would think that something like a 37cm (39cm?) Select S12, a 36cm Deboichet SL4 or similar. If you have access to a selection of fin brands and can try before you buy then you should do so. Try different lengths in your favourite brands and you may end up with more than one fin for different conditions and sail sizes. My personal preference for the board would be to get the Limited edition but if a bit of extra weight does not worry you then save some money and go for the standard construction. The extra weight didn't seem to bother the board I rode at all.
Talk to you soon