This post continues on the topic of selecting an optimal board quiver. I covered the first 2 slalom boards last time so here is the third and final slalom board I suggest. This board will be a pure slalom design and will have a width of between 60 and 62 cm. Recommended models are Starboard's iSonic 90litre/60cm, Tabou's Manta 95litre/61cm, Fanatic's Falcon 99litre/62cm and RRD's X-Fire 98litre/62cm. Each one of these boards is phenomenal in what it does - dynamite speed with ease of use. Be sure to take the trouble and time to choose the right fin as this can have a huge effect on ease of use, speed and general enjoyment. I am suggesting RRD's X-Fire without ever having sailed one but based on reviews on the Internet and my feelings about the brand I feel safe in making the recommendation.
If you are listening RRD, send me a 98 X-Fire and I will get you the most comprehensive test from a large number of good recreational sailors that you will get anywhere. We are fully back on the water from October to March (worth a try!).
The fin for this board will be a Select 33cm S12. I have used a Deboichet 34 SL4 on the Falcon 99 and it works beautifully but costs more of course. Try before you buy if at all possible. This board can be used when the wind strengthens and the water state is not too wild. It works extremely well with your 5.5m and 6.5m soft sails (to be discussed in coming posts). This is the board on which you will achieve personal best speeds. It is the board which will allow you to out pace your mates and may even allow you to frighten one or two race guys on their full blown racing rigs.
Having said all of this, this particular slalom board is probably the one you would exclude from the suggested range if you have cost/space/hassle constraints. The 95litre freeride board could be used in the above conditions and will work with the same sails.
The next two boards are the freeride models. What I suggest is a larger board of around 66cm wide and a smaller board of around 58cm wide. The ideal boards for our particular conditions would be Tabou's Rocket Limited 115litres and Rocket Limited 95litres. These particular boards are fast, easy to use and incredibly versatile. In winter we get winds from the opposite direction to our summer winds and large swells come in from the open ocean. You need boards suited for sailing at speed over this vastly different water state. The Rockets are perfectly suited to this type of sailing and are also fast over the wilder, steeper chop which develops in the strong summer winds. A really good fin for the 115l board will be a Select 39cm S12. The fin for the 95l board will be the 31cm S12. The standard fins which come with the boards are fine but better suited for wavy conditions and are a bit vague for serious blasting.
If your water conditions are a bit flatter in strong winds then Starboard's Futura could be something to consider if you need a really fast freeride board. They are not as good as the Rockets over chop but over flatter water are virtually as fast as pure slalom machines. Awesome designs! You would go for the Futura 101litre for the big board and 93litre for the small one. In fact the 93litre model could be a perfect substitute for the 61cm wide slalom. Save money on a board! My only reservation is that these boards are virtually slalom in nature so you don't get enough of a differentiation between the two types of board.
I have always had a soft spot for Fanatic Hawks as well. You would be looking at the 110l and the 100l Hawks. Sebastian has the ability to imbue his designs with a special excitement when you ride them. I'm not sure how they stack up in pure speed but for sheer fun they are hard to beat.
That is all for now. In the next post I will discuss some of the issues around the smallest board in the quiver. I would personally go for the Rocket 95 but you could have sailing conditions which demand a completely different type of board.
Talk to you soon