A new Rocket Wide 108 arrived recently at the centre and Anthony gave me a chance to try it.
The reasons for my interest were as follows:
- I wanted to establish whether this is a beginner board or something capable of serious performance
- I had noted that the board comes with a 34cm fin. This seemed small to me for a 73cm wide board. Could I fit a longer slalom fin for open water blasting?
- I noted cut-outs around the fin area which would suggest some performance credentials. I wondered how the bottom shape would work in slightly challenging conditions and if it would live up to the promise.
The water state was perfect for the exercise – not too flat but flat enough to be able to sheet in and go as fast as possible. Nice!
Here are my impressions:
- This is one of those boards which just feels right from the moment you climb onto it and start planing. No adjustments to sailing style needed.
- The 37 slalom fin works perfectly.
- The Cross 6.4 felt like a perfect fit but the board seems so versatile that I think it will perform with most sail types.
- The straps, in the outside setting, are in the perfect position for serious blasting.
- A leisurely sailor will be absolutely comfortable tooling along on this board, a fast sailor will make it go fast and a very fast sailor will be able to extract high speeds. When you ride the fin at speed, the cut-outs come into their own and very respectable speeds are easy to achieve.
- Upwind performance was fantastic for a freeride board. This could be due to the fin but regardless, it was effortless and on a par with slalom equivalents.
- The board gybes well but favours a wider arc. This is not something which likes to be jammed round like a 3S (not in my hands anyway).
- Compared to the standard Rocket, the board feels a bit woolly in the gybes. Those of you used to gybing slalom shapes may be a bit disappointed with this aspect. Where a good slalom shape will hold you all the way through as if on rails, the 108 wallows a bit. It also stalls easily if you lack speed.
- The board is wide and flat and this, together with the forgiving bottom shape makes for an extremely comfortable ride over rough water. The impressive levels of control and comfort make this a board which can be sailed effortlessly for long sessions. Think of how punishing most slalom kit can be. This does not punish.
My final thoughts are that the Rocket Wide 108 is perfect for anyone looking for an easy, fast and versatile machine. It’s slightly vague feeling through the gybes will probably not suit serious racers but these sailors are not its target market. If you want fun and acceptable speed from a stable and supportive board, you have to include this one on your short list.
(By the way, one of Joos's Severne Turbos has arrived (6.5m). We rigged it on his lawn today. It looks stunning, feels light in the hand and rotates like a dream. Hopefully we will get a chance to sail it tomorrow. If I manage to get a ride I will report back.)