In the Gorge, 70-80-liter boards aren’t a pipe dream. They’re a staple. So we tested some over lunch … A long lunch. One not-so-happy boss later, here’s our take on the latest quad, thruster and single-fin shapes available here at Big Winds.
Lunch Test Crew:
Matt Morrow: 180 lbs, 19 years windsurfing, loves swell slashing upwind of Doug’s.
Mark Ames: 170 lbs, 32 years of sailing, loves all windsurfing!
Eddy Patricelli: 185 lbs, 22 years on the water, former WindSurfing mag board test editor.
Lunch Test Session – First impressions matter. That’s what’s at play below: results assembled from three Big Winds staffers rifling through the shop’s demo fleet of 70-80 liter boards over a lunch break that lasted (ahem) 2.5 hours. Of course, one session in 20-30 mph winds off the Hood River Waterfront Park is not a conclusive test. It’s a starting point to help you find your perfect board. More lunch test sessions are to come. Shorter ones. Till then, try these rides for yourself. Two days of board demos ($80) can be applied to a board’s purchase.
Matt – Planing: It surprised me. It’s the only quad in this test and its planing performance hung in there with the fleet. Riding: Its bottom shape has so much vee I expected a radical ride. Instead, it was easy to sail. It tracked well and was exceptionally behaved. Not the fastest of the bunch, but fast enough. Turning: This board shined in the turns, begged to be spun around and to be put on a true wave. Best Suits: Advanced riders under 190 lbs. who want an amazing wave board that’s also suitable for freestyle in high winds.
Eddy – Planing: Not the earliest to plane. Not far off the others, but my 185 pounds felt wind lulls a bit more on this board. Riding: It’s friendly and controlled over chop. Fast too, thanks to its forgiving ride, which inspired me to keep the pedal down. If anything, I’m anxious to try the Goya Custom Quad’s larger sibling, the 84-liter model. My hunch is this quad can be ridden a size up when matched with heavier sailors. Turning: On edge, it had no rivals. Hands-down winner for swell riding and carving fun. Best Suits: Intermediate to experts looking for a fun ride that prioritizes maneuverability; anyone headed for Punta San Carlos.
Matt – I’ll break form and cut to the chase: This was my favorite board. It planed quickly, was fast and lively, yet it stuck to the water when I wanted it to. In short, the board made me feel like a hero. I planed out of my turns, jumped higher than I thought I would, and was lightning fast on a reach. I did notice the carbon construction’s stiffness in the chop, but the board was just so much fun to sail otherwise that I could not wipe the smile off my face. I would recommend this board to anyone that wants to put it in my car and get me on it again.
Eddy – Planing: It would’ve taken the top spot in planing performance if not for the Starboard Kode Freewave 81, which has a slight size advantage. Regardless, this JP had me hustling for the foot straps for the right reasons. Riding: The thruster fin setup offered what felt like all-wheel drive underfoot. On this board (and the Naish Global S) I never spun out, nor topped out — great for jumping. Turning: Good in the corners, but not quite as agile as the Goya Custom Quad or Quatro Mono, perhaps because it felt like I was entering turns with exception speed. Best Suits: Virtually everyone, with the exception of novice high-wind sailors. This model’s Pro Edition carbon construction favors experience.
Matt – Planing: Super quick to plane. It’s a board that will get you on the water when most are stuck on the beach. Riding: Through the chop I noticed the extra tail width — it wasn’t the smoothest ride — but it would be a dream board for the light-medium size sailor on a wave at the coast. Turning: The unique tail shape allowed tight snappy turns. Best Suits: Beginner to advanced wave sailors tackling onshore conditions.
Eddy – Planing: This Naish rivaled the JP Freestyle Wave 78 and the Starboard Kode Freewave 81 in early planing, but it bettered them in its ability to hold a plane in the turns and through the lulls — an ideal attribute for back-foot-heavy sailors and real-world wave conditions. Riding: Tame, controlled for me, and plenty fast. Turning: It didn’t turn as tightly as the Goya Custom Quad or Quatro Mono Single, but it did carry speed on edge better than any board I can recall … ever. Best Suits: Those seeking one board for both bump-and-jump and wave sailing. East Coasters who want a powerful board for the imperfect conditions they face.
Matt – Planing: This single-fin model shot onto a plane (and shot upwind with speed ) like no other in the test. Riding: I felt dialed in instantly, and its straight-line performance was so good I began to worry it wouldn’t turn well. Turning: As soon as I put it on its rail the Mono responded. Not with a skatey type of turn. The Mono required me to commit, and get forward to utilize the whole rail. So much fun in swells. Best suits: Gorge sailors looking for a classic single-fin shape to blast around on, tear swells apart and fly past their friends.
Mark – Planing: It’s longer and narrower than others, but it planes just as quickly. Riding: Step on and go. This “modern classic” felt settled motoring through the rough stuff. Comfortable footstraps and pads soaked up the bumps. It has great straight line tracking stability, and feels engaged — eager for rider input. Did I mention it also jumps like a rocket? Turning: It’s a blast! Drawn out jibes are a dream, and snappy, rail-to-rail quickness is there as well. After riding multi-fin wave boards for the last 2 years, the Mono felt like reuniting with an old best friend. Best Suits: Experienced sailors who want a lively, fast, more traditional feeling wave/bump board.
Eddy – Planing: I expected this single-fin board to plane earlier than the fleet. And while it was near the top, I still gave a slight planing edge to its JP and Starboard rivals. Riding: There’s comfort in things you know. This old-school shape (longer, narrower) had that favorite-pair-of-jeans quality. Easiest of the fleet to sheet in and go. Turning: Against modern shapes, it surpassed all but the Goya Custom in carving prowess on my scorecard. Not bad for a “classic”. Best Suits: Sailors looking to keep it simple. A proven shape, a single fin — why complicate what works?
Matt – Planing: It popped up onto a plane, and somehow felt like the whole board was up out of the water — almost like a hydrofoil. Riding: Control on the Sphere was unsurpassed. Its unique planing sensation translated into an extremely smooth ride. I was challenging mother nature to bring on the gusts. Turning: Turns were easy. The thruster fin setup handled tremendous amounts of pressure with no spinouts. Best Suits: This is a great board for intermediate sailors looking for fun and control, or advanced sailors looking to transition to a thruster from a single-fin background. I felt like this board was made for Gorge riding.
Mark – Planing: It’s a high-energy ride that’s quick to plane. Riding: This board really balances the characteristics of a single fin and multi-fin boards alike. Early planing and fast, but super quick rail to rail, with loads of grip in the turns. Best Suits: It’s a great choice for those who sail both coastal and inland locations, and seek a powerful, ultra-responsive wave board. 75-115 liter models offer a size for every sailor and condition.
Matt – Planing: It offers a lively, engaging ride, and it was easy to get planing. Riding: I was impressed by it’s smooth and controlled ride, probably due to the comfiest foot straps and pads that I’ve ever slipped my feet into. I did, however, have a few spinouts, but I sail with a lot of back foot pressure. Turning: For me, this was the easiest board to jibe of the test. It also carried speed through turns like no other. Best Suits: It’s a perfect high-wind board for an intermediate sailor to master their jibes or advanced sailors looking for a smooth riding bump and jump board.
Mark – Planing: The Kode Freewaves have a reputation for early planing. No exception here. This board jumped up to speed. Riding: The combination of a nicely domed deck, and the most most comfortable foot straps and deck pads I’ve ever used provided a very connected feel. The board was incredibly stable through chop. Very confidence inspiring. Turning: One of the easiest jibing boards I’ve sailed in a while. Carries speed through carves as if on autopilot, while the thruster fin setup offers a loose, playful feel. Best Suits: It’s such a comfortable, rewarding board to sail, it’ll deliver for a wide range of sailors.
Eddy – Planing: This board planed the earliest of all of ‘em for me. So early, I had to check that it was the Technora (read: not carbon) model. Riding: The low-profile nose provided a controlled, nose-down ride that kept me on the gas in the gusts. Also, the word “range” haunted my session on this board. It planed early, was the biggest board in this fleet, and somehow felt the most well-behaved when I was overpowered. That’s a big claim. Turning: Solid performance here too. Best Suits: Anyone who wants a board with an unrivaled wind range and an exceptionally smooth ride; one-board quiver seekers.
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Hood River, OR 97031