When the original Starboard Carve was replaced with the Futura, it's fair to say that we weren't the biggest of fans. The Futura was certainly fast, but in our opinion it seemed to have lost the essence of what 'freeriding' was about. With its thin and wide profile it made the rider feel more like a passenger than a pilot, and it certainly didn't feel manoeuvrable underfoot. Admittedly that was just our opinion and some people loved the Futura for exactly those characteristics, but it was definitely with some anticipation that we looked forward to the arrival of the new Carve.
Weighing in a 7.33kg the Carve is the third lightest board in the test. In a trend unusual for Starboard, but seen more recently on the fantastic Kode range, the Carve is actually the longest board of the group and one of the narrowest. It also has the third narrowest tail width. The Carve is supplied with a 40cm fin as standard and sports a small set of cutaways in the tail.
On the water the Carve is instantly likeable. It's fast (second fastest in the group), comfortable, exciting and manoeuvrable - everything you could ask of a great freeride board.
In a straight line you can either cruise in comfort or blast full speed on it. At full speed the nose stays down, and only in the very biggest of gusts do you start to get any sort of control issues. Starboards often feel stiff, light and a little hard underfoot, but this Carve actually has a very comfortable ride and dampens the chop nicely.
We did find the fin a bit prone to spin-out, particularly at the bottom end with bigger sails. Once spin-out occurs it's unfortunately one of those fins that's quite difficult to bring back. It's not terrible, but it's definitely the weakest point of this board.
Foot comfort is very good and the strap position feels perfectly balanced. The inboard option is actually perfect for all-round blasting and manoeuvres - only use the outboard positions if you are a serious speed freak or have small feet.
The recommended mast-track position is bang-on for most purposes, but we did edge it forward about 5mm for control at the top end with 6.2m sails. The board could cope with sail down to 5.8m (as long as the water's not too rough) and coped fine with our 7.2m quiver sails. We probably wouldn't want to go much bigger than 7.7m though as the narrower tail starts to pay a price. This is also the case when it comes to getting planing. The Carve excels thanks to its light weight and great acceleration, but it does feel a bit smaller underfoot and requires slightly more technique than the earliest planing board(Rocket) for ease of planing.
In the gybes it's similar to the Fanatic and suits a more skilled gyber who can set the board's rail and drive it through the turn. In the hands of someone who knows how to gybe it can be carved as hard as any board here, and is a lot of fun. For less skilled gybers the narrower tail and responsiveness do make it alittle unsettled if you're hesitant.
In our opinion the Carve is the true definition of a freeride board. It's fast and manoeuvrable, exciting and comfortable, but most of all it's a lot of fun! There's plenty on ofter for all levels of freerider, but the better you get the more you'll appreciate the Carve's talents.
The Clones say:
"It does everything you'd want a freeride board to do - it goes fast, it's fun to sail, controlled and great to gybe"
"Feels lightand stiff on the water, but not too hard"
"Can push really hard into the gybe and turns surprisingly well for a board of this size"
"It's comfortable underfoot but still has enough life to get really good speed"