Our wind started off well yesterday, blowing moderate to fresh south easterly. This usually means flat water, constant wind and long high speed runs from the top bouy back to our beach. I went down quite early hoping to get a ride on the new Manta 71 and was in luck. Anthony had it rigged with a VMax 39cm (version 1) fin and the mast foot right in the middle of the track.
I took the board out with my 7.0 Vandal Stitch (fully downhauled) and was instantly on the plane. The board is fantastic in these conditions. It is really light and dances over the water. The nose lifts willingly allowing you to fly off the fin easily. Not once did I lose control or tailwalk. The ride is easy but engaging and seriously fast. The board feels alive and responds instantly to rider inputs. Three fastish guys were among the sailors on the water and I have to say that passing each of them was ridiculously easy. On the long runs I opened up huge gaps with no effort at all.
Some top slalom boards are fast but have a dead feeling under foot. This is not one of those boards. It allows the rider to distribute weight perfectly between front and back foot, is lively and above all – great fun. I did not once feel the water with my back heel. Despite the outboard position of the strap, the sculpted wing over the cut-outs sits right under the heel, keeping it off the water. The board seems to shrink as you speed off, feeling much smaller than 116/71. I suppose that this is due to the cut-outs.
One of the things the board does is to emphasize weakness in other parts of the rig. I could feel that my Vandal is not completely up to the task of maximizing speed. I could easily have had a fully cammed, 7.0 race sail (Loft Blade maybe?) and this would have elicited even better pace. If I were racing-strong, I could easily have had a 7.8 race sail to really haul out of the gybes.
The VMax fin is great for downwind blasting but if you need something to power you upwind at optimal speeds – probably not the best thing. I believe that Joos’s Vector Canefire carbon 40cm is probably a way better bet for this type of sailing. This Manta makes it easy to assess these things because it is so balanced and performs its own function so effortlessly. A really good platform on which to test slalom sails and fins I would think. Magazine guys - look no further!
I tried the board with my Cross 6.4 as well just to get a feel and it performed beautifully. It adopts the playfulness of the Cross easily while maintaining a high rate of knots over the water. Later, Gareth came out as the wind dropped. I rigged the 7.0 again and had some great runs. Gareth wanted to try his new VMax 39 on his Rocket 115. A good combo it turns out but not in the same league as what I was on. The wind continued to drop and I have to say that in light wind the 71 is no fun at all. Horrible in fact! If you are falling off the plane and entering gybes slowly – use a bigger sail and/or a bigger board. Slow is not what this machine is about - overpowered is the way to go. All in all - one hell of a board! I will try to get a ride over rougher water and will give feedback if I do.
As I was leaving the windsurfing center, Andy appeared from the shed with the 2015 Vandal Mission 7.8 with his 2013 Manta 71. I discussed this 2cam freerace sail a while ago. I watched for a bit and the sail looked super cool on the water but we need to hear his impressions directly. I will pass these on when I have spoken to him.
Talk to you soon