Saturday, July 7, 2012

Exocet Wind Sup Board Review

 Bernie Loving His First Paddle on the Wind SUP


Having been windsurfing for many years and more recently taking up SUP paddling , I have been 
continually searching for that one great all around - do it all board. I have been looking for a board that can offer you both SUP and Windsurfing fun and also be especially good for light wind wave sailing. Although I have rode a number of different designs that sail, paddle and work well for this purpose a new design has really caught my attention. That board is the Exocet Wind SUP and I am sure it is destined to become a classic. Thanks to a good friend who has recently bought one, I have been lucky enough to both paddle and sail it this last couple weeks. I am amazed at the versatility of this board whether paddling or windsurfing, on the ocean or in flat water. 

While flat water paddling in SUP mode the Wind SUP is super stable, easy to paddle, and tracks well. Thanks to its 11’8” in length, 31” width, and generous 200 liters volume, it lets rank beginners stand up and paddle away with confidence. Although certainly not a high performance flat water or surfing design SUP, for paddling around with friends, and SUP eco-touring it is hard to beat. Although the board comes with a 44cm windsurfing fin, once fitted with a smaller more wave oriented fin, such as the MFC San Carlos Weed Wave 25cm which we were using, it paddles turns, and surfs very nicely.

Most impressive though as an SUP is the ease with which it catches waves. Thanks to its beautiful shape and design you can catch virtually every wave you want to. Although a shorter and lower volume SUP would likely be preferred by most for larger waves, in small waves the Wind SUP is super fun. Plus for less experienced paddlers new to SUP surfing, the board’s excellent stability due to its 31” width and volume is really nice when the conditions are choppier.

The most amazing thing about this board however, is its all around light wind ocean and wave sailing ability. I have had a lot of previous light wind wave sailing experiences especially on my Exocet Kona 11-5. So I was very excited yesterday to be able to ride the Wind SUP while down at Topsail Island, North Carolina. I rigged up an Aerotech Phantom 7.5 sail in the SSW side-on winds ranging from 5 – 15 knots. The waves were small at only 1-3’ and the board just cruised right over the breaking white water easier than any other windsurfing board I have ever been on, period!! Once past the surf zone it sailed out through the ocean swells and waves with ease. I found it is super easy and comfortable to sail even when not planing thanks to its shape, volume and stability. Even In the lightest of winds, and when rocking about in the swells and waves, up-hauling and tacking the board was very easy. Again this was thanks to its overall volume and wide nose shape offering plenty of support when transitioning around the mast while tacking.

Coming back in towards the beach though, the board really comes to life as it surfs down the swell faces and jumps up on a plane with ease. Once planing the Exocet “Step Tail” design makes the board seem significantly shorter than it is and turns are considerably easier than on a traditional long board of similar length. Then once entering the surf zone it catches pretty much any wave you want to ride. Again thanks to the generous volume and size of the board, tacking or jibing in the surf zone to head back out is even easier than it is on my older Kona 11-5 light wind wave board. This will especially be a big help for less experienced sailors! The Wind SUP I rode did not have foot straps attached but I found that I really didn’t miss them except a couple times when I got really powered up in the gusts and was full on planing. They would have been nice as hand holds though for getting the board in and out of the water! The board does come with foot strap holes but you have to purchase straps separately.

Another excellent feature of the Wind SUP is that it has a daggerboard. When kicked down you can really cut up wind. So if you want to sail surf some swells or otherwise go way down wind there is no worry about getting back up wind. Plus I am certain that having the dagger board will allow you to light wind wave sail or just enjoy sailing out on the ocean, in pretty much any wind direction from side-off to on- shore if you want to. My only complaint about the dagger board design system is that it is a looser fit having a little more side to side play than I am used to compared to other long boards such as the Mistral Equipe and the newer Kona One. Although this does make the Wind SUP daggerboard easier to kick up and down, a tighter fitting dagger board would likely give better performance at higher speeds. However since I doubt anyone is going to get a Wind SUP for racing or for high performance up wind sailing, the Wind SUP daggerboard system has not seemed to hinder its performance much. The dagger board can also be very easily and quickly removed for SUP paddling and surfing too. The daggerboard is also going to be a big assistance to beginners learning to sail up wind as the Wind SUP can also be used for teaching windsurfing thanks again to its stability and design.

So obviously I am very impressed and excited about this board. It should seriously be considered by anyone who wants a highly versatile, all-in-one board for recreational SUP paddling, surfing, and windsurfing on the ocean, bays, or inland venues. This is especially true if you want to include light wind wave sailing capability. I have also read several other comments that on the flatter waters and in higher winds that the Wind SUP is surprisingly fast too despite its size and shape. Yes, I am sure there are better boards out there for those who only want SUP paddling performance. Likewise there are smaller and more performance oriented windsurfing boards I would rather be on out on the ocean or in the sound when the wind picks up in the 15-20 knot+ range. Still, when considering the Wind SUP’s, ease of use, stability, cross over performance from flat water and surf paddling to ocean and wave sailing, plus its use as a teaching platform, it is a superb option for beginners to experts. 


Wind SUP Tail View

Wind SUP Step Tail Design Fin
 10" Wardog Surf Weed by True Ames

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