Here is a review of the new F-one 5’6 x45cm, signature bamboo surfboard
I used last year's model a couple of times and was pleasantly surprised already by the feel of it and the amount of volume for such a small board for me. I’ m 6’ and 200 lbs + and my bread and butter board is a Neptune 6 ‘quad wave board shaped by Jeff Kafka (the one that kited Maverick last year) .
I have used the new 2009 F-one signature 5’ 6’’ in side shore south wind, and side-on northwest wind at Ocean Beach in San Francisco, and had a blast on both tacks using a f-one 12m bandidos in 12 to 18 knots , a 9m in 15 to 25 and a 7m on nuclear Monday ( 3/2/09) in 25-35 knots.
Compare to my 6’, it feels a lot more snappy, and lively, it turns on a dime and will carve a mean turn on any wave face or bottom turn. It feels like there is no limit, the more you put pressure in the turn the harder it will turn. This might be due to the fact that it is a thruster vs my quad set up on the 6’. But the surprise comes from the fact that it floats quite well even though it’s such a tiny board.
It feels also very “solid” and rigid. I’ m not particularly found of rigid boards especially in big size ( they bounce a little too much for my taste), but this is not a problem on a board that size because you never feel overpowered. And it gives me a lot of confidence for big airs. Landing jumps with kite loops always made me cringed on a surf board, but on this one with the bamboo laminate, I land them with a smile! (Although my ankles sometime don’t agree!)
This year there are more inserts to adjust your stance further front and further back on the board, which is great, since I am one of the guys that favors the “ Gorilla” stance. And they come with new future fins that seem to be unique to the brand with carbon fibers on the leading edge. The combination of the bamboo look, the full pad (who wants to wax his kite surfboard between the straps anyway?), and the wood/carbon look of the fins, makes it really stand out.
Now for the not so great features:
The footstraps are on the light side and not adjustable. I know that half or more of the kiters will ride the boards strapless ( it has a plug for a leash by the way). But we don’t all live in the warm waters of Maui, or Mauritius and having to unscrew the straps to adjust to our booties in the winter is not fun! So do yourself a favor, just throw them away or give it to that guy on the beach that keeps dropping on your waves and get yourself a pair of NSI or Dakine adjustable surf straps.
Compare to my 6’ quad, it does not go upwind as well, but frankly I was not expecting it especially with only 3 fins. My Kafka board goes upwind like a machine and I even used it last year for course-racing . This little thruster is great going upwind on regular sideshore conditions. It just gets a little hard when the wind gets light and the conditions turn on shore (remember that I’ m a big guy).
I know that it is going to be my main board this year at Waddell, Scott, and OB, and I look forward to use it around all the “caution boys” with their red surfboards. If I don’t mess up too much , they might even let me ride “their” waves (as long as I don’t drop in front of them !). By the way , I have a pair of straps to give away …