Unchanged from 2007, the FreeWaves have for several years enjoyed a reputation for fast, early planing performance, with sharp carving and high comfort.
On the Water:The hull has loads of vee and quite a long flat and therefore tracks very easily indeed, is very easy to get going and to hold on line going out. It is certainly one of the quickest boards on test here and much of the experience of sailing it is the adrenaline rush of the fast and involving ride. It’s particularly sharp and agile in the turns with excellent adhesion to the water, however it isn’t so good at the ‘loose and relaxing’ style of manoeuvrability and can therefore feel a little bit fast and stiff in waves with the relatively low nose often a bit closer to the water than you would like. The key performance attributes mentioned by all users were ease of getting planing, speed, excitement and excellent grip in the gybe and carving turns generally. Obviously these also add up to very good jumping as well. The flip side of this ‘excitement factor’ is that the board felt a bit hectic for some users, particularly in chop.
Fittings: A good G10 Powerbox 25cm fin, high quality straps and comfortable pads complete a classy package. The strap inserts are relatively closely spaced on Fanatic boards so can pinch wider, booted feet.
Popularity: Never lower than middle ranking with the guesters and often a lot higher. It was also very popular with the testers.
Overall: One of our Test Team bought one last year and loves it, using it mostly for jumping (he acknowledges that it could be a tiny bit looser for riding) but finding that it also works well for his level of freestyle (spocks, vulcans, grubbies etc). The great strength of the FreeWave 86 is in maximising small board excitement in relatively moderate conditions. Although it can handle both bigger and smaller sails, few boards feel so fast, lively and exciting with 5.3-5.8m. It’s best for fast blasting, any kind of jumping and hard carving turns.