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JP Freefoil vs Hydrofoil boards

With JP having two ranges of dedicated wind foil boards some people may wonder which to range to go for. The 130 freefoil has a similar width and length to the 120 Hydrofoil and the 115 freefoil has the same length and width as the now discontinued hydrofoil 105. This comparison is drawn on the 105 hydrofoil vs the 115 freefoil.

First impressions- While the boards have similar widths and lengths the outlines are quite different with the hydrofoil boards having much wider tails and the volume placement further aft to match. Like for like the freefoil boards are a bit heavier due to the additional foil tracks. The deck shape on the freefoil is an average domed shape and lacks the concave around the mast foot as seen on the hydrofoil boards. The hydrofoil boards feature bevels on the underside to prevent sticking on touch down while the freefoil utilises rail shape to do the same job. The freefoil has more footstrap positions and includes the option of a single back strap. The mast track is further back on the freefoil boards. 

On the water – Straight away you notice the difference in the volume distribution between the two boards. The hydrofoil has all the volume at the back of the board and on the small 105 version it is a brave person who risks putting a foot in front of the mast foot. On the freefoil the volume is much more centered and the board is easier to uphaul and a conventional uphaul stance can be used. 

Getting flying – I am used to using dedicated foil boards so I naturally move back on the boards and get my front foot in the strap and then slide my back foot back as I pump. This technique works well on the hydrofoil but if I move back too early on the freefoil it tends to drag its tail a bit. This would be less of an issue for lighter riders (I am 95kg). This is where a lower aspect early lifting foil would also help. Don’t get me wrong the freefoil will fly early but not quite as early as the hydrofoil boards. Both boards are capable performers on the hydrofoil in a given wind you might use a 6.0 and a high aspect foil while in the same wind a 5.5 sail and lower aspect foil would probably be ideal. 

In flight – Both boards ranges provide comfortable flights. On the freefoil you are standing closer to the rig than on the hydrofoil. You can therefore distance yourself from the rig a bit easier on the hydrofoil and therefore take more rig power, so on the freefoil you may change down sails a bit earlier. The single back strap option of the freefoil board appealed to me but in the end I preferred the double back straps. 

Gybeing – While both ranges gybe well I actually preferred the hydrofoil boards for gybeing for two reasons, firstly the wider tail area gives you more working deck space to stumble about on mid gybe and secondly the additional foil tracks do add extra weight that at times I could feel pulling the board down  mid gybe

Overall – There is no better or worse board here, both boards do what they claim. If you want to go fast on a foil then the hydrofoil boards have a definite edge. But for versatility the freefoil boards can take a wider range of foils and also offer the option of using a wing rather than a sail although you would need an additional foil to be able to do both sports. 

Which is easier as a first foil board? If you are coming from a wave sailing background then you will feel more at home on the freefoil but if you are used to freerace or slalom boards then the hydrofoil would probably suit you best. 

JP Australia
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JP Hydrofoil Boards

JP Hydrofoil Boards

This is a comparative review of the  2019/20 105, 2021 120 and the  2020 135

105 Pro –  I love this board, I tend to sail it like a wave board with my back foot out of the straps and central. The board feel small and nimble and with its light weight it is a joy to gybe or ride small swells.  For me at 95kg I did need a slight breeze to keep the 105 going, in becalmed conditions it can become a balancing act due to the lack of volume in the nose but all it takes is a 5 mph breeze and a bit of forward movement and the board can chug around and you tend to forget it isn’t a big board. The board is uphaulable as long as there is at least 5 kts of wind (to balance with) and the sail is smaller than 6.0. Due to its lightweight (aprox 6.5 kg) it is quick to fly and once flying will keep going through lulls. I tend to use this board if the wind is 15+ kts. While I can uphaul it I prefer to waterstart it.  I have used the board in a good 30 kts and it keeps its manners well. On touchdowns it will normally bounce back up but in heavy chop and due to the 204cm length it can burry its nose. But there is something reasuring when you see the front of the board about 2’ underwater as you know the nose won’t be hit by the mast. I think once you get to boards around the 2m length that the mast hits the water before the nose so I have never damaged its nose (touch wood) despite crashing around in high winds.  Sail sizes – up to 6.5

120 LXT – A great size of board, big enough to take a 7.0 and be usable in light winds but small enough to be nimble and agile and like the 105 it gybes very well with height corrections mid gybe easy and responsive. You can sail it in a sporty outboard strap fashion or in a more upright relaxed manner. It is still quite short so not the easiest to tack. Sail sizes 4.5 – 7.0

135 Pro – A very nice early flying board that is happy to take big sails. It gybes well and responds to height corrections providing a high success rate for flying out of gybes. It will take a 8.5 (when in the outboard straps) but the board’s sweet spot tends to be a 7.5. Sail sizes 5.5 – 8.5. 

General – The Hydrofoil range has a number of common traits. These top end construction boards are light and well finished. JP tends to have the front straps a bit further back than other brands such as AHD, Severne etc this makes the boards feel more eager to fly. This can be a positive or negative thing depending on your preference. It also makes them a bit more sensitive to what foil you use. At first having used the AHD Thunderbolt I found the JP 135 felt quite lively and less longitudinally stable but over time I got used to it and appreciated the lively ride. 

With the boards getting lighter as they get smaller the take off conditions are not as straightforward as they may seem. For example I can get the 105 flying with a 5.8 in the same wind speed as I could with the 135 and a 7.0. I would use the 105 with a 5.8 in the same wind as the 135 with a 6.5. The wider the board the further away from the rig you stand which allows you to hold down more power. The 120 sits in between the other two boards as you would expect. 

So who are the boards for? The 105 would suit a competent foiler for stronger wind foiling but it is also an easy board to float around on so it could be someone under 80kg 1st foil board. The 120 would suit most people and for sails up to 7.0. The 135 could be a first foil board for just about anyone but also for someone wanting to go faster. All the boards can be sailed in an upright relaxed fashion or pushed a bit more from the outboard straps. All the boards are comfortable slogging about off the foil. 

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AHD Thunderbolt 85

AHD Thunderbolt 85

First impressions – The AHD thunderbolt range has been in production for a couple of years now and remains unchanged for 2021. AHD have a long history with foiling having been making foils and foil specific boards since as far back as 2009.

The boards have simple blue graphics and feature an unusual deep concave towards the rear of the deck. While it looks a bit strange you soon get used to it and the deck offers a large amount of “working space”. The front straps can be placed further forward than on some other brands of foil boards. 

The outline of the board has quite parallel rails and a squarish nose. The moderate length of 226cm gives easy glide to get flying or for when slogging about waiting to fly.  Underneath the board are some simple cutouts and a bevel to the front half of the board.

The construction is a full carbon sandwich which makes the price of £1369 very attractive however the boards are a little bit heavier than some other full carbon boards. 

On the water – The thunderbolt is very stable when stationary and easy and relaxing if you find yourself floating around waiting for a gust to get you flying. The deck is comfortable and the unusual deck contours around the foil box gives you good feedback as to where your back foot is without you having to look down. The board is 145 ltrs and it will support nearly all riders and allows easy tacking. 

Getting flying – The board offers a stable platform from which to pump the sail and get up to take off speed. I think the Thunderbolt will suit just about any deep tuttle wind foil be it a high aspect sporty foil or a high lift low aspect foil.

In flight –  This is the Thunderbolts “strong point”, with the straps a bit further apart compared with some other boards and the front straps again further forward the Thunderbolt provides an incredibly stable platform and flies level with ease taking gusts and wind variations in its stride. Inevitable touch downs are shrugged off without issue. 

Sail range? The board will take a 8.5 but you have to be in the outboard straps to be comfortable with a sail that big on long reaches. 8.0 or 7.5 are noticeably more comfortable. The board will keep its composure with sails as small as 5.0. In fact it’s top end like quite a few other foil boards is dictated by whether you can carry the board to the water’s edge. While it might sound easy, these are big boards and if you let a strong wind hit it at the wrong angle it will see you banging your foil off the ground before you know it. 

Gybeing – With plenty of deck space you have plenty of “balance room” while changing feet. Should the worst happen and you over foil mid gybe and everything comes crashing down there is enough deck space to make the experience survivable. It is a big board so the gybes tendy to be steady as opposed to nimble. 

Overall –  A very easy board to get on with and with performance to satisfy freerace fans while having the manners to encourage people new to foiling.

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2021 Severne Alien 115

First impressions – A nice looking board, although that is always personal taste. A very limited paint finish should be easy to match in any repairs that might be required along the line. The board is quite light. The footstraps attach to the board with allen screws using the same tool you use for tightening the severne sail battens. 

There are a good range of positions for the straps making the board easy to balance with most foils. The mast track is the conventional distance from the foil.

On the water – when I first tried the board the wind was cross off and there was zero wind at the slipway. The board felt quite a bit smaller than 115 ltrs. The board is stable as long as it has the slightest of forward motion.  At 200 x 70 cm it is rated up to about a 7.0 sail which is about right, best with 6.5 and down. 

Getting flying – a combination of the boards “corky” or buoyant nature along with its light weight and many footstrap options make the board fly easily and early. 

In flight – it is comfortable and easy to control. With the 70cm width the board feels more foil freeride than foil freerace. The majority of touches go unnoticed but at only 200cm you do have to watch the nose if you plant it into the face of a bit of chop. If you can hang on the thickness in the nose will soon pop it back out again.

Gybeing – despite not being a big board you can positions the footstraps to give yourself a decent amount of deck space for gybing and the lightweight helps the board keep its height around the turns. 

Overall –  A nice board, easy to use without any vices. If you are over 85kg you might be better off with the bigger 125 ltr version. It will suit a wide range of foils and undoubtably will balance nicely with severnes own redwing foil.

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Goya Airbolt

2021 Goya Airbolt 120

First impressions – Nice looking board with a limited paint finish. I expected it to have the option for a single back strap but it just has options for double back straps both inboard or outboard. The board is quite a unique shape giving the bottom of the hull a very 3D shape with stepped ridges running most of the length of the board. 

Most dedicated foil boards have wide buoyant tails to help support the rider when he/she moves back to weight the foil and get flying. Instead of this usual arrangement goya have moved the foil position further forward. So when you look at the deck of the board it looks almost like a traditional pintail shape with the straps forward and the tail not overly wide. But when you look at it from the side you realise that the rear stap still lines up with the front of the foil mast. 

The mast track is quite far back so not far in front of the front straps and there looks to be plenty of open deck up front.

On the water -The 120 was easy to uphaul. With the rearward mast track you can put your front foot in front of the mast base and uphaul in a traditional manner despite the boards relatively short length. Oncy the sail is up the board feel buoyant and has a slightly corky feel dut to all the volume packed into a compact shape.

The board is rated to take up to a 8.0m sail and I have no doubt it can take it. I tried the board with a 7.5 and it was certainly doable but the board came more aline and pleasant with a 6.5 or smaller. The fact that the mast track is close to the front straps means you are standing close to the rig which I don’t feel is ideal with bigger sails.  

Getting flying – this is where things got interesting. I am used to more traditional or racey foil boards and I tend to pump up onto the foil to get flying that bit earlier. When I tried this on the Goya the board would rock from side to side disturbing the water flow. I think this is caused by the bottom not being flat so you don’t have a stable platform from which to pump both sail and board. I found it better to actually let the board accelerate in its own right and get flying that way. Someone new to foiling would most likely find this technique easier but for me I think the end result was that I required about 1kt more wind to get flying than on similar sized dedicated foil boards. There is not much room to get your rear foot between the straps so you are best getting into the back strap early. 

In flight – With a sail 6.0 or smaller the position is very comfortable in the straps, one of the most comfortable foil boards I have used. With the bigger sails that the board is rated to take I felt a bit close to the rig. Nothing wrong with that except when the wind picks up a bit you can’t distance yourself from the power so easily so you have to change down that bit earlier. Height control is easy. The board shrugs off the majority of touch downs. It is not the longest of boards at just 205 long so it is possible to catch the nose if it comes down into some chop. On flat water the board can look after itself. 

Gybeing – The board carves round nicely. I feel the double foil tracks + the deep tuttle box adds a bit of weight in the tail and in lighter winds I was aware of the weight dragging the board down a bit once you are without any rig power and just gliding round. But overall the board feels nimble and maneuverable.

Overall – Despite the unusual bottom shape and maybe extreme looks the board is actually fairly easy to use and will feel more familiar than the big wide tailed boards to anyone new to wind foiling. The board probably suits lower aspect foils and smaller sail best.