RE: Kombat 107
With all due respect, comparing a freestyle board, with a dinky fin designed to spin out and not go that fast so that you can do spocks and flakas and other new school stuff at moderate to low speed planing, to a full on slalom board, designed to rip cross and downwind maximally powered up at very high speeds and maintaing biting control in the jibes, and then saying that the width is irrelevant is one of the more egregious cases of comparing apples to oranges I've seen in a while. Moreover, the whole industry is increasingly noting the importance of width, a trend which I first caught with my Berky 295 back in ~1996, and so you're disputing that trend is kind of odd. If you'd compared Kombats to Evos, then you'd be on better ground, but you can't because in that comparison the size ranges are very similar.
So again, the question looms - what's a Carve good for? Blasting, carving, moderately challenging planing maneuvers (i.e., old school freestyle). Fins on top and bottom end, and a very good set up for the Carve part of a quiver is a C12x or C13x for that, reserving the 6.5 and down realm for more B&J / swell type sailing (i.e., the Kombat or Evo / Acid). Using SB's own rating sizes, the K9x and E9x are better suited to filling the gap at the 6.5 end than are the smaller sizes. Not that it can't be done on the 80 liter boards, but the 90 liter boards are just going to ride a bit better in (especially) the lulls. Far more sailors are rewarded by getting a bit bigger fin, a bit bigger board, and living with a slightly rougher ride than going the other way. This is especially so for neophytes to higher wind sailing.
Thus, I stand by my statement, using SB's OWN SPECS, your advice was off. I'm glad that he got the K97 because I think it'll suit him better and he'll ride it a lot more than he would a smaller board.
That said, I finally got to ride my own K96, on fresh water, with winds averaging 25 (mph) and gusts to mid 30's (measured on iWindsurf sensor). On this lake, swells were setting up at about .5 meters (my first time at this site, and given the reputation of Seneca Lake I was a bit disappointed - in such winds my usual location (wrong direction for this particular day) would have been 1.5 meter plus. When I got there, the wind was at it's peak, so I rigged a 4.7 and that ended up being a bit small, as most sailors were on 5.5's. Foostraps forward and inboard; mast base set about 49 cm in front of the forward straps. Equipped with a TrueAmes 10.25 (28 cm) Surfgrass set all the way forward in the box, the K96 handled very very nicely, only when the wind was at it's biggest did it get a bit bouncy. It was my first time on a legit wave board, but I'd studied pretty thoroughly and was able to do some small frontside / backwind off-the-lip aerials and cutbacks that got the attention of more experienced wave sailors, and I was definitely getting more air than everyone else despite being less powered. I also rode it with a 9.5 (25 cm) Surfgrass, and the extra fin size was definitely helpful in projecting up and down the swells and in getting upwind. With the bigger fin, I had no difficulty getting as far upwind as everyone else, though I suspect a better setup would have been a 5.5 and the smaller fin. I have a lot to learn to keep my weight forward on the bottom turns and cutbacks in the lulls - a bigger sail also would have helped keep me from stalling to a schlog at times. It's definitely a great board. I hope I get some more chances before the lakes turn to ice...