SB Impressions from NC Windfest
Just got back from "Frisco Woods Windfest" demo event in North Carolina. I got to try a few starboards. The water was shallow and weedy, so the boards were set up with relatively small weed fins, which probably affected their behavior. Here are my impressions.
Phantom 301- I used it with a small sail in dying winds so I didn't get to dial it in, but I felt that it had nice glide for a "short" longboard and an effortless transition to planing, as advertised. The hull looks funny because it's round from the nose to the footstraps, then it transitions to flat for planing. It was lighter than the Exocet Kona.
Serenity- WOW! Believe the hype, this board was awesome! With a 7.5 in about 9 knots the board was much much faster than anything else on the water. Absolutely in a league of its own and ultra-fun. I felt like I was getting the same speed and upwind angle that I get on a formula board, even with the short weed fin on the Serenity. I knew I was going fast because the board made the same "schlup schlup" noise as it slid over chop that a planing hull makes. It was very responsive to how I trimmed it with my feet, and went much faster when heeled slightly to leeward.
Phantom Race Prototype (320?)- I didn't get to try it, but those who did seemed to be going faster in non-planing mode than anything besides the Serenity.
Apollo- I didn't plane in the 7-8 knots of wind I rode it in, but I blame it on the fact that I only had an 8.5 sail and the board was set up with a 40 cm weed fin that didn't give any grip or leverage to pump against. The hull felt like it "wanted" to plane though, and didn't push water as much as my formula board.
Gemini- I wanted to try it with my girlfriend, but they didn't have it out on Saturday, because on Friday some people broke 2 masts on it at once, in light wind! Apparently the rear mast snapped for no reason (manufacturing defect), causing a crash in which the front rider catapulted onto the steep nose rocker, which cracked the front mast in half near the base. I heard a rumor that this is a common occurance on the Gemini.
Conclusions- For light wind fun I'd pick the Serenity over the Apollo because I could get high performance without a big sail and fin, and have more low-wind range. The Phantom would be pretty versatile for a one-board quiver, and I think it would be a good transitional board for someone who learned on a wide board. Uh... unfortunately the lightwind board with the versatility and price to best suit my needs was the Exocet Kona, which I bought on the way home $950 usd.