The S-Cross comes in five sizes spanning 95-145L and their designs remain unchanged for 2009, although they’re now also available in Pro Model construction as well as the standard MC (monolithic epoxy). Exocet’s design brief for the series is about early planing, speed and straight-line performance, summarised with the epithet “Absolute Freeride".

The 115 is the middle size in the range, and with its sky-blue livery and rounded nose has quite a gentle, unassuming appearance. It’s low rocker and relatively parallel rails tell a more businesslike tale though. Underneath the bottom shape has a mixture of mono and double concave in the nose together with plenty of tuck in the rail, washing quickly into vee by the shoulders before becoming nigh-on flat in the tail. The deck is quite flat, but nicely domed on the rail to accommodate the straps and a more committed stance.

The board comes with a quality 40cm fin shaped by Select, the Double Density Shock Absorber (DDSA) pads provide good grip, and the straps are easier to adjust this year to offer the right amount of comfort and support.

The S-Cross is a performance-oriented freeride machine and offers little crossover into bump-&-jump or any other discipline. The deck configuration pushes you into a fairly full-on out-on-the-rail stance, since the inboard strap positions are uncomfortable due to a flat deck (and actually seem more about offering adjustment for foot sizes, rather than any variation on riding style). The S-Cross accelerates quickly, so you need to be nimble and efficient at getting into the straps. Once there, the board is very comfortable underfoot; the deckpads give a nicely cushioned ride, with your feet comfortably wrapped around the rail. This solid connection helps to you to drive more energy into the board and get the most out of it as you take it into stronger and stronger conditions.

On flat water its performance is superb, pointing upwind extremely well and releasing so as to sizzle across the surface with only the fin in contact with the water. In more challenging conditions it demands rather more rider input and technique to keep it trimmed properly, especially across the wind. That said, the board’s balance remains very manageable. The nose continually sits low to the water while the shoulders ride over chop unhindered – something that’s very noticeable when riding downwind over the back of swell.

In the gybe, while no versatile carving maestro, the S-Cross does bite well if you put it on its rail with some force, giving you confidence to drive in harder on the next turn and perfect a more slalom-esque foot change.

+ Early planing

+ Blasting comfort.

- Requires good technique

- No crossover ability.

Exocet got it pretty much right with their “Absolute Freeride" tag – this is exactly where the board excels. A great blasting platform for competent sailors.