Five boards. One epic weekend of board testing. Here are the 2019 free-wave models that rose to the top. Boards tested include the JP Freestyle Wave 86 FWS, Fanatic Freewave STB 85 Textreme, Goya One Pro Freewave Thruster 86, Naish Starship 80, and Starboard Kode Freewave 86 Reflex Carbon.
About This Test: Big Winds’ co-owner Eddy Patricelli spent a weekend at Stevenson, Washington riding this fleet of 2019, 80-90 liter models. Saturday offered 5.3 wind conditions. Sunday he used a 4.2. Both days were easterly winds — second tier sailing here in the Columbia River Gorge as east winds flow in the same direction as the river's current. In this dynamic, the Gorge's iconic swells shrink dramatically. Planing and upwind sailing performance take priority, as neither are aided by an opposing river current. In other words, real-world conditions, ideal for gathering test results that should hold true far beyond the Gorge.
Housekeeping: The JP Freestyle Wave 86 tested (and pictured below) is a 2018 model, though only its graphics change in 2019. The Naish Starship 80 is a prototype. Its tail design and graphics change for 2019.
Length: 229 cm Width: 59 cm Volume: 86 L
MFG Listed Weight: 13.7 lbs.
Fin(s): Freestyle Wave 25 Power Box
Sail Range: 4.4-6.0
Retail Price: $2,179
What I Liked: It made me hustle for the foot straps right off the dock. I made every maneuver I tried. My test session ended with me scratching my head. Matched against multi-fin rivals, this JP makes an exceptionally strong case for tried-and-true single fin shapes. It out planed the fleet, ripped upwind, devoured lulls and was one of the easiest to dial in. Not bad for the least expensive board in this mix and (cue kicker) competitively lightweight too. Its single fin design creates a rare marriage of lightweight and less costly, thanks to just one fin box (read: not three) in the tail. My test session also awakened the thought that this single fin shape wasn’t just keeping pace with the fleet, but setting it — in planing prowess, jumping, and smooth riding. The latter was helped by its full wood construction, which dampened chop admirably.
What I Didn’t Like: My 4.2 was this board’s small sail limit. Its single fin setup offers less grip underfoot than multi fin rivals, limiting high wind sail range. Separately, the JP Freestyle Wave FWS was not the most maneuverable in this group, giving up slashy-ness to the Goya One and Starboard Kode Freewave.
Board Best Suits: Intermediate to expert riders; sailors who ride with a heavy back foot; those who would rather keep on keepin’ on with a single fin. Also a great option as a “big” board in a high-wind quiver, where early planing is prioritized.
- 2019 JP Freestyle Wave models feature same shape as 2018 models.
- Power Box fin system for the rear center fin allows fast fin swaps to enhance range and maneuverability.
- JP Freestyle Wave Pro Edition models include thruster fins and fin plugs.
- 2019 JP Freestyle Wave Pro Edition 86 weight is 13.4 lbs; retail price $2,519
- Available sizes: 79 (Pro Edition only), 86, 94, 103, 113
2019 Fanatic Freewave 85 STB Textreme
Length: 225 cm Width: 57.5 Volume: 85 L
MFG Listed Weight: 13.1 lbs.
Fin(s): MFC TF 19 cm; 2X TF 12
Sail Range: 3.7 - 5.3
Retail Price: $2,799
What I Liked: Effortless riding, upwind prowess, and insane glide. The more marginal the conditions, the more the Fanatic Freewave 85 STB shined. It simply wouldn’t … stop … planing. A jibe with shoddy footwork — I planed right through. A monstrous approaching lull — no loss of speed. And what I liked most is how it planed. Its unique parallel rail outline released up to speed with minimal rider input, and minimal forearm load. Also impressive, my session ended with me upwind of my launch point. With other boards, getting upwind required my input. Not on this board. It’s ability to maintain speed, especially while heading into the wind, opened doors in rather profound ways. Specifically, jumping. Head upwind to chop hop on most boards and there’s a risk of deceleration approaching takeoff. The Freewave 85 STB easily carries speed heading upwind into ramps, adding height (and rider confidence) to air time. A back loop off 2’ chop? Why not!
What I Didn’t Like: Carving required minor adjustments. Namely, carving off my back foot. The Freewave 85 STB was not as maneuverable as Goya or Starboard, though its ability to carry speed through turns lead the fleet.
Board Best Suits: Sailors who prefer a less physical ride (attention “mature” windsurfers!); marginal locations where planing is prioritized; onshore/real-world wave locations; those who don’t ever want to pump.
Availability: Fanatic Freewave STB models in all sizes and Textreme and BXF constructions now available. Call 888 509 4210.
- Freewave 85 STB Team Edition Construction, 13.5 lbs., $2,349
- Freewave 85 STB BXF Construction, 14 lbs., $1,999
- All sizes (85, 95, 105, 115) and constructions include thruster fin set.
2019 Goya One Pro Freewave Thruster 86
Length: 228 cm Width: 59.6 cm Volume: 86 cm
MFG Listed Weight: 13.6 lbs.
Fin(s): MFC TF 19; 2X TF 10
Sail Range: 3.7-5.5
Retail Price: $2,295
What I Liked: Planing power, pop, inspired carving, and range. This was the only board whose test session demanded a recovery intermission. Why? Most of my time on it was spent unhooked, carving up knee high swells. But with most any Goya board, carving prowess seems a given. The surprises were the Goya One’s early planing and speed. Fast enough to lead a drag race and fly off ramps; planing power on par with Fanatic and Starboard rivals. All this, with surreal slashing. At 59.6 centimeters wide - the widest in this roundup - schlogging was stable and forgiving. So was how it handled gusts. The One’s grip underfoot seemed more than capable of handling windier conditions and smaller sails than my 4.2. That’s no small feat. Here in the Gorge, a one-board-quiver that comfortably spans 3.7-5.5 conditions smacks of the Holy Grail. If forced to choose one board to use in the Gorge and on Oregon Coast, this was my pick.
What I Didn’t Like: No glaring flaws. Carbon construction occasionally felt stiff in chop. Upwind performance fell slightly short of Fanatic Freewave STB.
Board Best Suits: Intermediate to expert riders; one-board quiver seekers; those who trade time between bump and jump and wave locations; swell slashers who want it all — maneuverability, planing power and speed.
Availability: Available now, and on sale here.
- Available in one construction: Carbon/S-Glass
- US fin box center; Mini Tuttle sides
- All sizes (86, 96, 106, 116) retail for $2,295, and include thruster fins.
Length: 228 cm Width: 57 cm Volume: 80 L
MFG Listed Weight: N/A lbs.
Fin(s): MFC Freestyle Wave 28 Power Box
Sail Range: 3.7-6.0
Retail Price: $2,189
What I Liked: Luck favors the bold, and this is a bold board. Not a wave board, nor a freewave board. Instead, it’s a dedicated bump-and-jump rocket ship. As in, narrow and gunny, with sharp, relatively boxy rails. The Starship’s 80-liter shape summons thoughts of 1990-era Gorge boards, when going fast and jumping high were THE goal. And on the water, its fifth gear speeds made me laugh out loud. So speedy, thoughts of flips and tricks vanished in the blur of a fast approaching shoreline, and a rather ominous proposition: jibing. Thankfully, jibing the Starship was more forgiving at full speed than feared. The other Starship wake up: lulls. Its top speeds (and a rather large 28 centimeter fin) carried me right through ‘em. My session ended with no tricks, no flips, one swell ride attempt, lots of hang time, and an ear-to-ear grin. The 90’s may be long gone. But this board dialed ‘em up like Marty McFly in Doc’s DeLorean.
What I Didn’t Like: My 4-batten wave sail didn’t fully tap this board’s speed (think monster truck tires on a Porsche). The Starship 80 cries out for five batten wave sails, or better, free-ride sails. Swell riding on the Starship was possible, but required lots of downshifting to slow down prior to slashing. Naish’s foot pads felt a touch stiff at speed over chop.
Board Best Suits: Advanced to expert riders who feel the need … the need for ... ; bump-and-jump sailors seeking a high-wind board that isn’t for waves or freestyle moves; old school back-and-forth rippers.
Availability: Prototype model tested available now here. 2019 Starship models available now. Call 888 509 4210.
- The Starship 80 model we tested is prototype. Naish asserts the 2019 production models are extremely similar to this one, but utilize a bat tail design.
- Available sizes: 80, 90, 100, 115
Length: 229 cm Width: 60 cm Volume: 86 L
MFG Listed Weight: 12.5 lbs.
Fin(s): MFC TF 19 A-box; 2X Natural Wave 11 cm
Sail Range: 4.0-6.0
Retail Price: $3,199
What I Liked: Big promises. Big rewards. For $3,199 (not a misprint), this Kode Freewave model utilizing Starboard’s ultra lightweight, ultra expensive, Reflex Carbon construction carries lofty expectations. And “lofty” best encapsulates its performance. At just 12.5 pounds, the board was ridiculously lively underfoot — leaping onto a plane, driving into a carve, or heading skyward. Its svelte weight, combined with Starboard’s proven Kode Freewave shape (unchanged from 2018), seemed to challenge every board in the fleet. It planed as early as the JP and Fanatic. Maneuverability rivaled the Goya, and its top speed felt comparable to the Naish Starship. So good was its performance across all categories, it forced me to check iWindsurf’s wind graph to see if wind speeds had increased during its test sessions. They hadn’t. Most surprising, however, was for all its spirit, the ride was always controlled, thanks in part to a fantastic foot pad and foot strap combo for smooth riding. In this case, featuring Starboard’s new Yulex - virtually neoprene free - environmentally friendly foot straps.
What I Didn’t Like: Did I mention its $3,199 price? As good as its performance, its price tag loomed. I'm eager to find out if Kode Freewave models in Flax Balsa construction ($2,199) set such a high bar.
Board Best Suits: Deep pockets, and those who will spare no expense for the ultimate in high-wind performance that maximizes fun on any waterway.
Availability: 2019 Starboard Kode Freewave models are available now. Call 888 509 4210.
- Kode Freewave sizes (86, 94, 103, 109) available in Flax Balsa construction for $2,199.
- Kode Freewave 86 Flax Balsa model MFG weight 14.3 lbs.
- Only 86 liter Kode Freewave models include thruster fins. Larger sizes come with single fin and fin plugs.
Eddy Patricelli is a co-owner of Big Winds. From 2001-2007 he was the editor of WindSurfing magazine. He has been windsurfing (and teaching windsurfing) for decades. See his best video tip for getting your kids onboard here.