Sunday, August 22, 2010

2011 Quads - tried and tested

This was my last day and it was a multifin day with the focus mainly on the quads. As for quads, singles and twinser generally I’d say a good analogy (not mine BTW) is to say that a single fin is like a front wheel drive car as you have a lot of certainty in the power delivery, you’re in control and they are comfortable, steady when getting going and secure (great in big waves), the twinser is like a rear wheel drive car, put too much in to it and the back end will be sliding all over the place, you need to be balanced and making sure that you read the feedback from the board all the time; and as for the quads, well they’re like an all wheel drive car, always loads of grip and yet at the same time you’re able to slide it around and concentrate on where you want to go and not where the board might want to go!

The forecast was for perfect conditions and they certainly materialised as I headed out on a 74l Goya twin fin and a 4.7 Severne; and went for a play in the south bay. Seeing as it was my last day I decided to go topless!! That soon proved to be a mistake as I suffered a very very nasty back slap from a very very poor forward!! The board was sweet and I can say that of the brands tried during the week I would say that the Goyas suited me the best with a good balance between user friendliness and radicality. After the back slapping I came in and donned my wettie before heading back out, but this time I’d managed to blag a go on the 2011 Starboard Quad. This was a very different animal to the 2010 version, mainly due to the fact that it’s a completely different shape (straight pin) and they’d swapped the fins around so as to have the larger fins at the rear and the smaller ones at the front (as per all the other 2011 Quads). In effect what this does is make the board like a twinser with stabilisers!! This board tracked up wind and I was soon up at the harbour wall. The waves weren’t as good as the Wednesday but they were still overhead in the sets although it was also a little more on shore. With the 2011 version there was more opportunity to change radius in the bottom turn and more importantly it was easier to break out the tail and slide it around. All in all I still can’t decide between the 2010 or the 2011 as to which is better but I suspect that the 2010 with smaller fins would make a big difference to the top turn. After a few waves on the Starboard I jumped onto a 74l 2011 RRD quad, shape wise it is quite radical with a gunny tail and quite a bulbous nose. The rails up front are pretty soft and generally they, as have the other shapers, realised that there are benefits from retaining a fast tail section and to then soften up the front and put some more volume there to help slide the nose around and maintain speed as the board inevitably looses speed in the top turn (unless you’re Jas P!!). As with the others quads the RRD tracked upwind with loads of grip. On the wave it was very forgiving and looser than the Starboard. It was much quicker to accelerate although the top speed wasn’t that good. On the wave it was loose and slippery but the best thing about it was the acceleration. On several waves I managed to fully slide out the tail, get it grip in and then accelerate for another full speed bottom turn before sliding off the top again. My only reservation on this board was its lack of drive off the rail, in a way whilst it was perfectly suited to the mushy waves of El Medano I think if you were out on it in a decent ground swell and clean lining up walls it would be a struggle to hold a good line, and might be a little slow. After the RRD came the Quatro Keith Taboul DTL 75l (ish) quad. This was being touted as the ultimate down the line wave machine and it certainly seemed to fit the description. One way in which the market has evolved over the last few years is the creation of much better onshore boards to the point that the local ‘hot shot’ should now ride an onshore board if the local conditions dictate and whilst the onshore version might historically have been the less radical version it has to be said that the newer boards are just better suited to what they are designed to do. So this Quattro whilst no doubt great as a DTL wave board was, in the small on-shore conditions probably the least suited of all of the boards that I tried. I tripped the rail on my first bottom turn but then found after a couple of waves the technique needed to drive off the rail to keep it tracking nicely and I found that coming off the top needed a lot of rail pressure; but at least there was the certainty of lots of grip. Generally the volume distribution was good which helped compensate for a what felt like slow acceleration (although sailing out it seemed comparable to the other boards around); but from what I tried I’d say that the on-shore range of boards would probably have been a better choice in El Medano. I didn’t get too long to try it out however as I was taken out in the break by one of the other sailors and the board ended up with a ding! The last board I tried was the Fanatic Team edition quad (79l I think). Shape wise it looked very nice with a fast outline and thin tail, and from looking at it I thought that it was possibly erring on the side off to cross shore shape however on the water the board proved to be a surprising good all-rounder with a good compromise between speed loosness and grip. In a way as equally good an all-rounder at the Starboard but more radical and better suited to the experienced sailor; my only reservation was that I got the feeling that it possibly could have been a bit of a pain in terms of loosing speed in gusty on off conditions.
So in summary, the best board as a box ticking marketable safe and yet at the same time still pretty radical was the Starboard, the only problem being that you’d probably feel that it was a little too much of a compromise after a while; the best board for smaller onshore mush was the RRD by a long way, but it would probably have been a little too lacking in directional control for big waves; the best board for bigger waves was the Quatro (they do make an onshore version that I’d liked to have tried, and from looking at the Goya it almost seemed to fit between the two Quatros) and the best board for probably not holding you back was the Fanatic.
As for fins etc. I didn’t really study them too much but it seems the market is starting to settle down and probably over the next season or two we’ll see one particular style of box establish itself as mainstream (be it mini-power box, or short US etc). the other fixtures and fittings were all good and the straps seemingly a lot more comfortable than in previous years.

Am I now a quad convert? Well it has to be said that I am. In fact I’d be so bold as to say that the quad revolution (and for that I include the twinser as part of the learning process) is as significant a step forward as Marco Copello’s revolutionary creation of the Copello Red Line back in the early 90’s. Wave sailing boards have been a long time in the waiting for something as radical as the quad/twinser revolution and it is, in my view, a welcome change!!!

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