Starboard Atom Wood Carbon, BOARDS (UK), Jan - Dec 2010
What's all the fuss about?
According to Starboard the Atom is 30% thinner than any other board currently on the market in this size. And we're told that this ultra-slim design allows for maximum manoeuvrability and reactivity.
What's the point?
The freeride fraternity can now buy a board they can ride strapless to allow true freedom of expression. Starboard reckon it's no longer about test scores, top speeds, or maxed-out power just pure freedom. The Atom can also be used with straps to enable conventional control, but we're urged to forget about convention and embrace independence.
At a glance
When the Atom first arrived on our doorstep we weren't too sure when to take it out. With a quoted volume of 99L we thought we'd better wait for a good Force 4 and stick a 6.0m crossover sail on it. But with its 68.5cm width and 36cm fin, surely we could stick a 7.5m and go cruising in lighter winds? Needless to say we opted to give it a go both ways.
With your feet firmly locked to the board you can take the Atom out into the swell and happily score some jumps. On flat water, it's fast, free and fun to ride. The fact that it's thinner makes it feel slightly less bouncy compared to many boards of similar width, and the lower volume doesn't seem to cause any problems when sailing with a bigger rig as long as you're powered up.
In conventional strapped mode, this board would be a good option for a flat water freeride sailor who wanted something with a little less volume but valued a bit more width for early planning. It's very enjoyable to ride - it planes quickly and, most importantly, due to its tail width and fin size is a joy to sail both upwind and downwind, allowing the sailor full freedom to head where they wish. If you want a board to simply freeride on, the Atom should surely be on your wishlist.
It certainly is different in strapless mode. Such an uncluttered deck instantly makes you feel you're back on a beginner board, but this soon changes when you realise there's only 99L of volume supporting you! It's initially quite difficult to judge where to put your feet, but with a bit of practice you soon stop looking down for the screw inserts.
At 68.5cm it's a wide platform for a 99L board, and with the 36cm fin it planes relatively quickly. But it is a little more difficult to drive the board through your feet without footstraps so takes longer to get up to full speed. Sailing along at 20+ out of the straps is quite a sensation and actually extremely god fun and pretty easy once you get used to it on flat water. In any sort of swell though it's just outright scary.
A fun board that feels very manoeuvrable for its size. Try some strapless freestyle with a small sail or go blasting with the straps screwed in and a larger rig.