The Z-Ride has been subtly revised from last year’s model, with a slightly narrower nose and tail, flatter planing flat rocker and addition of tail cut-outs. Although marketed to the beginner or intermediate market, the strap positions and tail cut-outs give it quite a performance angle.
Type: Intermediate’s or moderate wind / flat water freeride.
On the water: The Z-Ride is relatively thin but quite long, and the cut-outs effectively make the tail a bit squarer. It has the longest planing flat of any board on test and this can certainly be felt in its impressive moderate wind performance, ease and speed to windward and sail carrying – it is definitely quick in lighter winds and will accommodate a big sail with ease. (Despite RRD’s own recommendation it will easily take an 8.0 or even 8.5m sail at a pinch.) It feels powerful and comfortable in standard moderate to medium freeride winds and the thin rails give better than average response for a relatively wide and long board. The hull stays flat and low on its low nose rocker and reaches a very good top speed that proved competitive in slalom races. It is responsive and feels quite light and easy to turn but the longish low nose and vee does keep the hull very much in contact with the water which prevents it from sailing free, particularly when the water isn’t so flat. Skilled sailors who keep their weight in the right place found it responsive and easy to gybe but it is not a board that can be pushed really hard and this is partly down to the cutouts, which also cause a slight drag when first getting planing and prevent the board from being quite as easy to sail as it might otherwise be for intermediates.
The fin works well and the straps and deck are very comfortable, although the strap positioning options are either very outboard (great for high performance but not particularly easy for intermediate sailors), or very inboard, on too flat a section of deck. The moderate outboard placement favoured by the majority of recreational freeride users was missing.
While other boards on test had an edge for manoeuvrability and excitement or else for early intermediate ease, the Z-Ride appealed strongly to our more advanced guest testers who enjoyed its combination of good moderate wind performance and responsive handling. It provides excellent big sail performance on flat water in moderate winds. We can recommend it strongly for both inland and sheltered waters to reasonably competent sailors looking to maximise speed and performance in Force 3-4.