A lot of new stuff is breaking cover in our industry and I will mention a few pieces in the next post but here is some feedback from our lagoon:
Every one who has bought a 2013 116/71 Manta is absolutely stoked. Local Andy was the first I think and he has been smoking but Inland Andy (visiting speed demon) is proving almost impossible to catch on his just-out-of-the-box 116. Karel (another hot visiting sailor) was unsuccessful in getting the 116 he ordered but borrowed local Andy's and after one of the most epic sessions ever, I think he is considering stealing the board! Very nice Tabou - please don't change this too much - it is pretty near perfect.
Joos and local Andy have both purchased 2014 Rocket 115's. I have ridden Joos's board and it is simply fantastic. I thought that last year's Rocket would be difficult to improve on but this board does it. It has to be one of the top blasting boards in existence right now. Add decent fin, sail and mast and you will fall in love. Look out for the Tabous with the yellow paint.
Ellie purchased a 2014 (yellow paint) Tabou 3S 116 Ltd for us and we have been having a ball. What a fantastic thing it is. Like the 3S 96, it dances over the chop imparting huge confidence. This makes it possible to keep pushing the speed in wild conditions. In completely overpowered conditions I screw a Select Eagle 31 fin in and use a fully downhauled Gaastra Remedy 6.0m. This combination allows me to blast in ridiculously overpowered conditions and to hang with all comers. I' m not saying that I beat the power sailors but I'm not far behind. Awesome!
The two negative points of the board for me involve weight and strap position options. Even the Ltd model is too heavy for me. Having said this, it is so stiff and crisp that you don't feel the weight on the water. The other minus is the fact that even the outside strap position is too far inboard for real high speed blasting with a slalom fin. Tabou will tell me that for blasting, I should simply buy a Rocket. Good point and I get it but what if I am someone who sails predominately in swells, jumps and likes doing the odd trick but once in a while, when conditions warrant it, wants to plug his fast 7.0 blasting sail in and blow others off the water? I promise that the 3S can do this with a vengeance but not with the straps in the middle of the deck. Please Fabien - just a few additional fin bolt holes (please!)
Dan Aeberli is here working on the 2015 Fanatic Hawk and Falcon designs. A few of us got to sail some of these boards yesterday and all I can say is watch out for them next year- seriously! Joos rode a Hawk proto and was blown away by how the board seems to shrink once you get going. Huge speeds and fantastic control.
I rode a Falcon 102 proto. The board feels tiny but gets up and going so easily. Just move your weight back a bit and you are planing. Johnny (local racer with Fanatic connections) let me ride the 102 with his 2014 North Warp 7.0. A great sail of course but unfortunately the wind was a bit light for me on the combination so I had less planing than I would have liked. The problem was compounded because I recently put my back out and my spine is shaped like a coat-hanger. When I got going, the experience was mind blowing and worth the pain. I would really like to have a go on this board with my Cross 6.4 in strong wind - light, direct and pretty close to sailing nirvana I would think. Dan seems capable of incorporating some form of witchcraft into his designs. Very, very impressive.
Andy broke some equipment a while ago and was swept away. The guys noticed his disappearance to late and he spent hours in the sea before being rescued. I need to give you a list of what he did right and what he did wrong so that we can all learn but this post will only be after the next new equipment post.
Talk to you soon