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.
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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