The ‘performance bar’ on the Exocet website shows the S-Cross spanning the complete breadth of freeride and entering both slalom and freestyle territory. It is an unusual shape within this test having a significantly wider tail than most and a much wider nose than any other board. This gives it a ‘mini Formula’ look and suggests that it is largely built for speed / performance, but the very high nose rocker goes some way to counteracting this perception giving it various contrasting design elements. It sits alongside the more freemove / freestyle-wave biased Cross in the Exocet line-up.
Type: Performance / recreational hybrid with wide nose and tail.
On the water:
The wide nose and tail make it feel quite big for its volume and max width, and it is very stable and a good weight carrier. The relatively early lift planing flat and high nose rocker prevent it from planing quite as early as the majority on test, particularly for passive planers as it responds best to being borne well off the wind and pumped. However, once planing on the wide tail it rides through lulls very well indeed. The outboard strap positions dictate a relatively committed stance suited to a reasonably advanced sailing style and we found that – while the 115 will cruise along very comfortably – to get the best out of in terms of speed and upwind the board needs to be railed slightly and sailed hard off the fin. Anyone prepared to spend time mastering the techniques will find it competitively fast on all points of sailing, and although it is above averagely bouncy in heavy chop we found it extremely manageable in swell with a smooth feel. It will carry an 8.0m or down to around 6.0m quite happily, preferring to be well powered rather than underpowered. It turns extremely easily and with the massive support it gives on the wide tail it will allow those learning to gybe to stay dry more than most boards. However it is not a board that is responsive to really cranking hard or fast turns. The width of nose and tail prevent it from feeling manoeuvrable for its size in a freemove or wave sense. Other than when it comes to chop-hopping or jumping – the very wide, turned up nose provides one of this board’s magical features; it gets air incredibly easily and is terrific fun to blast and jump off only the smallest bits of chop, with the DDSA heel cushioning making landing such a wide board pretty painless.
The straps are comfortable though can twist, but the sailing position is very ergonomic over nice dome for prolonged sailing at speed without discomfort. The front strap positions are both well outboard and therefore designed for advanced blasting technique rather than early intermediates or for the advertised freestyle use. The fin is fine for the medium / top end of the wind range, a bigger one would be useful for lighter conditions. Overall: The S-Cross is quite an unusual shape for a freeride and was not considered to be amongst the best for easy early planing, effortless cruising and fast, exciting gybing, so will not appeal that strongly to the standard burn-&-turn sailor or the early intermediate. It is easy to sail and yet a challenge to sail well and offers a very accessible opportunity to those wanting to develop race style technique with the added bonus of excellent jumping even with big sails. It was generally well liked, making top two for one of our guesters.