Anthony recently took delivery of a 2014 Tabou Manta 71. Andy and I had a good look at it and spent some time with a straight edge comparing its profiles with Andy's 2013 71. The most obvious difference between the two boards is the introduction of cut-outs at the back. Tabou joins the other top slalom brands in this so I have to finally accept that these things work. I still need to ride this board but I suspect that I will be totally converted.
The rear rocker line of this board is absolutely flat where the 2013 board had a very slight negative kick starting about 30cm from the back (wtf). The rails towards the back of the new board are extremely sharp (sharper than on the 2013 model) and all the edges in the cut-out areas are knife edge sharp. The new cut-outs exhibit a confidence and maturity of design that is hard to explain but if you have a chance to examine one of these boards you will understand. All the surfaces and planes just seem to flow and to work together. If I have a chance to ride the board I may have to re-visit this impression (fancy shapes are only as good as their performance on the water after all) but I have a feeling in my stomach that this is going to be something special.
The other obvious change from 2013 involves volume distribution. The new machine has a lot more volume under the feet. They have achieved this by reducing the thickness of the board forward of the mast. I suppose that the new reduced tail also contributes some volume for this. The result of these changes (including the cut-outs) should improve speed, control and planing out of gybes. Combine these improvements with Fabien's usual offerings of sublime comfort and gybing excellence and you realize that we could be looking at a classic slalom machine here. I shall be watching Ben vd Steen's performance on the PWA circuit with interest this year.
Talk to you soon