Single in 2008, twin fin in 2009, Quad in 2010, what's next for 2011? While we wait, we might as well test this latest offer from Starboard, the first test of the very first production Quad board of our modern era.
After the first experiences on protos on Maui that were less than conclusive, we have to admit that our chief tester was not optimistic, but he had to find out.
The fins multiply themselves, with big fins in front
The particularity of this board compared other quad fin protos that we tried is in the placement of the fins: the big pair of fins is in the front: 16cm in front, 11cm in the back. Just like surf boards. The finboxes used are also not the usual US box, but mini–tuttle box and Surfinz boxes in the back. These fin boxes are lighter than the conventional US box. The weight of the board in WoodCarbon won't break records though, with a noted weight of 7.2kg, which is in the average.
Early planing and upwind ability: big surprise!
On the water, totally the opposite of the protos we tried in March in Hawaii, the Starboard immediately surprised us with the traction we got from the fins. There's enough grip to sail the board flat as usual and you can push super hard and still not spin out. This also helps early planing, which is very competitive. Once up and going, you're riding a board that is riding with a lower nose angle, which gives you more control. This lets the board ride fast, but it's especially upwind that you can see a difference against twin fins, even most single fins. The Starboard Quad 81 allowed us to hit some nice jumps in small waves and onshore conditions, thanks to its combination of speed and upwind ability, when on other boards, it really less obvious. In summary, against expectations, the Quad 81 planes up fast and tracks upwind really well. In these two categories, it's comparable to the performance of freewave boards.
Grip and using the rails in the surf
With its compact shape and width, the Quad isn't a technical board to ride and it is forgiving to foot misplacements by the windsurfer. It generates some good speed in small waves, like a fish. What you immediately feel with this board in the wave is, on one hand, the amount of grip you have in a carve, on the bottom turn or on the top turn, and on the other hand, the amount of grip you have when you make contact with the foam. This makes you maintain your grip when finishing turns in white water. You're always in control. It's the same thing when you make late contact with the lip or in the most critical parts of the wave. In more details, we also liked the speed you get in surfing, especially the speed during carving transitions. You're basically faster than single fin or twin fin boards on the rails. This is how the board turns best. The Starboard Quad needs to (or allows you to, depending on your point of view) use the rails more than on average, especially at the end of the tight bottom turns where most boards end up pivoting on your back foot. With the Quad, you can push on the back foot and carve it to turn the best way. The board also has what we call stretch, allowing it to go fast in longer, drawn out turns. The cut back is as aggressive as, if not more than twin fin boards. For more demanding waveriders, we can also adjust the front fins to smaller ones, which will increase even further maneuverability and reactivity.
Even with its width, the control in high–wind and/or at high speed in the wave is good, which means that overall this Starboard does have a very wide range of use. It worked very well as a unique board for a rider of say 78kg, from 5.5 to 4.0.
In summary, we were firstly pleasantly surprised by the behavior of the board outside of the wave: its early planing and upwind traction is really good and makes it an efficient board in onshore conditions. We clearly see a difference with current boards on the market today. In the wave, with its super grip and its speed, the board will allow you to control the board to more critical sections and use the rails more. Your ride, your positioning in the wave and your choice of trajectory becomes closer to the style of surfers – but luckily, you're still windsurfing! Let's see what Starboard's competition will follow with for 2010 now! For us at Wind magazine, this simply means more testing of these new generations of multi fin boards against the classics. See you in the September issue.
Wind Interview with Tiesda You
Tiesda You, Brand manager and designer at Starboard, wanted to keep the development of this board top secret. When we visited their HQ a few months ago, we did spy a prototype in the workshop, but we were so busy with the iSonic R&D story and its cutaway designs we didn't quite latch on. What a shame! To get our revenge, we now bombarded Tiesda's inbox to ask him to give us more details on the development of these production Quad boards.
Wind: when did you guys start with the development?
What did you start from? Twin fin boards?
Our new Quad 76, 81 and 86 are new shapes that have been designed around two and four fins. We finally kept the four fin option, as it made the twin fin option obsolete. Once we finished the shapes, we went back and tested them as single fins (to check out the convertible option) and surprisingly, they worked even better everywhere than the Evos of 2009, whether waveriding or for bump and jump. The Quad 66 and 71 are based on the Evo 66 and Evo 70 shapes of 2009. The key was the placement and selection of the four fins of course.
According to Scott McKercher, one of the key points on the Quads is the choice of fins, with two big ones in front and two small ones in the back. How about the shape itself? Was there a lot of adaptation needed?
Did the work on SUP development help in the development of the Quads?
Our chief tester, Erwan Joffroy, has tested four fin protos before on Maui. To summarise his test, even though he says there could be a breakthrough for advanced riders of high skill level, he noted many disadvantages (not accessible to use, catching waves / take off was a problem, comfort) for the average rider. Are you not worried that this four fin configuration will be too technical for the many riders who buy a waveboard just to ride in high winds with small sails?
What development was done on the fins?
What other wave boards will you have next to the Quads in 2010?
The work on quad fin setups has only just started and even though it's pushed the limits of waveriding and many pros have adopted it, do you think you will work on quad setups on other programs (freeride, freestyle etc.)?
In terms of wave shapes, the best riders in wave windsurfing want to get closer and closer to pure surfing. Where would this R&D take us? An ultra–small SUP Quad with a sail?
Last question: will these new boards influence the profiles of sails? What is Severne working on?