Although not called a FSW the 3S is designed to cater for the same disciplines and users. In previous years the 3S’ have been wider and therefore effectively considerably bigger than their rivals of similar volume, yet due to prominent duck tails and extremely short planing flats have been quite specialist in appeal. However, the 2009 models appear to have reverted to a much more ‘normal’ design.
Design: Although nominally smaller than the others, the 76 is still considerably wider in tail, max width and particularly nose width, which does make it a noticeably bigger board, suitable for larger riders and bigger sails and moving it closer to the 85L category.
It features negligible tail rocker and although the planing flat is still relatively short by FSW standards, it is now fully flat water compatible and much longer than found on most waveboards. Tail vee is quite high and nose rocker is quite low.
On the water: The extra width and tail vee make it extremely stable and composed. While the least dynamic and exciting of the FSWs in feel, it actually planes up very early, is extremely easy to get up to speed, sail upwind and tack. It has a very friendly and manoeuvrable feel, very compact and redirectable. The good acceleration, short length and extra width give it great lift in jumps, making it a specialist for chop hopping, jumping off small waves and getting pop in freestyle (although our lightest sailor at 62kg found the extra size and weight meant it need a bit more effort).
It feels quite attached to the water on the deep tail vee, giving good tracking and control. The lighter sailors found the wide, low nose slapped a bit at speed but for the rest it was generally very composed and reliable in a good blow, calming down hectic conditions.
Its forte is manoeuvrability. Perhaps due to the extra tail width it went frontside well in onshore conditions, keeping speed well and feeling surprisingly snappy in the top turn. The only reservation for riding would be the very low wide nose, as it can bury, but it comes into its own for freestyle to which it is well suited.
Fittings: The 23cm fin is a very good all-rounder. A larger foil would be a useful addition for moderate wind use. It is classic box with a wide range of adjustability should you wish to experiment. The straps are now standard Cobra straps and very good, so a vast improvement on previous years. The heel pads are quite thick and comfortable but do make the relatively flat deck feel a bit flatter, which suits wave and freestyle use more than blasting.
Overall: A valuable addition to the 3S range filling an obvious gap in this smaller size, particularly as each individual size is big relative to the competition. Compared to other FSWs of similar size the 3S feels less exciting and dynamic but very early planing, very easy to sail and better suited to onshore riding and freestyle. However, it is also a very competent all-rounder satisfying for blasting in flat water as well as jumping and riding. It takes a 5.8m sail quite easily and is best with 5.0-5.7m though it handles small sails well too.
We would recommend it principally as a moderate to medium wind coastal all-rounder for sailors of about 67-77kg, particularly those with a slight preference for onshore riding and keen to learn a little advanced freestyle.