Starboard iSonic Speed Special W44, W53 & W58 quick review

With the speed session about to kick off again at the end of January and and sponsoring the 2011 British speed ladder, it’s time to start thinking speed again:) I’ve now had the Speed special’s W44 and W53 forover a year now, and recently added the W58 as well. Time for a few words on these great boards.

Speed Special W44:

Size: 229cm x 44cm, 53 litres.

Sails range: 5m to 6.5m.

Fin range: 19cm to 25cm

Who is this board for? Dedicated speed sailors looking to crack 40 knots or higher, pure down-wind speed board. This board is Da Bomb, in 25 knot plus winds it is super fast. It is pretty easy to set up as it works well regardless of mast track/footstrap positions. Just needs setting up according to rider preference.

I have used the W44 with sails from 5.2m through to 7m. The 7m was a bit to big on it for a heavy weight, but a light weight would get away with it no problem. The fins I have used so far include, Tectonic Falcon F1 24cm & 26cm, TM45 22cm and the new C3 Slingshot 21cm (yet to be tried).

For a 53 litre board, it plans up pretty easily. Whilst bearing off to get it going it accelerates like crazy. You need to be very quick getting into the footstrap before you hit warp-speed:) If your maxed out, its best to waterstart with both feet in the straps. With the right fin, the W44 handles the rolling chop that you normally get on a broad course, giving you confidence to keep pushing hard. As expected, the W44 is not the fastest on square courses, big speedboards prove to be faster here. If fullt powered, the 44cm wide board will get you back up wind to the start of the course for your next run, but you do lose a lot of down-wind ground getting it going. So far, I have taken this board to around 42k peak. Others taken it to 46k peaks. For 2011, I hope to crack 44k peak on this board. This is my favourite board, love it:)

Starboard W44, W53 and W58 Speed Specials

Speed Special W53:

231cm x 53cm, 74 litres.

Sails range: 5.7m to 7.5m

Fin range: 26cm to 32cm.

Who is the W53 for? Being easy to use, this board is for any one that likes speed, it is a speed sailors “bread & butter board”. The W53 is my most used speedboard. It has a massive wind rang from 5.7m to 7.5m. I have even used an 8m on this with no problems. I think of the W53 as a “real world” speedboard. Record breaking conditions are pretty rare, but the big W53 lets us all get out there in winds as low as 20k with a 7x sail and get decent speeds. The W53 is very easy to sail, it takes off easily and early, accelerates like a rocket and capable of speeds well over 40k.

The W53 has a pretty big tail (OFO size). I generally use a Tectonic Falcon F1 28cm in well powered 5.7m and 6.3m conditions, a Falcon F1 30cm in 7m conditions and a Select Evo 31cm in underpowered or 8m winds. I recently got the new C3 Slingshot 25cm as a “perfect day” fin, yet to try this fin.

Because this board is really easy to use, it can be sailed all day long without feeling like you just ran a marathon, making it a great speed board for training on, whilst waiting for that special day when you can get the W44 out. I would not be without the W53, great board. I have taken the W53 to over 41k with a 30cm fin. I hope to get much out of it with the new C3 Slingshot 25cm fin this year.

Speed Special W58:

231 x 58, 82 litres.

Sail range: 6.3m to 8m.

Fin range: 28cm to 34cm.

Why such a big speed board? A lot of speedies/straight liners do not have easy access to top speed strips like Sandy point, South-end, West Kirby or Strand horst. Most sailors have to get their speed fix on gusty inland waters or open sea locations. A larger board helps at inland locations and also helps to reduce to obvious risks off sailing a 50 litre board in open seas (off shore winds, wind dying, broken kit etc). In the past we have tried to use small slalom kit to fill this gap. Whilst XS slalom kit is OK, what we really wanted was a dedicated XL speedboard to fill this niche market place. Enter the W58, that will do nicely thank-you:)

The W58 is very good in rough waters. This is due to its extra max width and the wider tail as you have more grip (no spin outs) as you take a bigger fin. It makes easy work off an 8m sail, and I feel you could even get away with an 8.5m if you really wanted to, but I do not think you would gain much in speed compared to a XS slalom board. Being so big, this board is not physical or technically hard to use, easy speed is obtained on it. A light weight could even use this in a high wind slalom race with good results. It is easy to gybe for a speed board. Getting it going could not be easier, it is much less dramatic compared to the W44 and W53, fast & steady accelleration and going onto decent and controllable top speed.  Due to its early planning and big fin carrying abilities, the W58 is great for getting back up wind to the begining of the course.

I have only had a few sessions on the W58 with 7m and 8m sails so far, but I can see this board getting a lot of use this year. Fin wise, we are limited to small slalom fins as most fin makers do not do dedicated XL speed fins as yet. I have been using a Tectonic 30cm in perfect conditions, a Select Evo 31cm as “bread & butter” fin and A C3 Z 34cm in poor conditions.  If you live in an area with poor speed conditions or just want to get out on pure speed kit as early as possible, I would highly recommend the W58.

January 10, 2011 by  
Filed under Mark Hayford


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