These boards beg for a battle. Both target 12-25 mph wind speeds, free-riding fun, and both claim to embody the best of today’s short, wide, board trends. But enough hype. Here’s the head-to-head test results: Eddy Patricelli’s first impressions gathered in 12-18 mph winds using a 6.5 Sailworks Retro.
JP Magic Ride 104 (Wood)
Sail Range: 4.7-7.5
Length: 239 cm
Width: 68 cm
Weight: 17.5 lbs.
Starboard Atom IQ 100 Carbon
Sail Range: 5.0-8.0
Length: 235 cm
Width: 68 cm
Weight: 17.5 lbs.
Planing Power: The Atom won, though its planing prowess favors experienced riders. Pumping the sail and fin put the Atom on a plane in the lightest of gusts. The Magic Ride’s planing performance felt more accessible. Pumping was rewarded, but not vital. I’d simply sheet in, sit in the harness and the Magic Ride accelerated onto a plane, though I needed slightly more wind to do so.
Jibing: On edge, the Magic Ride had me smiling. While many of today’s short and wide shapes don’t carry speed through jibes as well as their longer, narrower predecessors, both the Magic Ride and Atom planed out of jibes admirably. On the Magic Ride, it just seemed easier, and encouraged tighter arcs and more aggressive carving.
Speed: The Atom felt faster, though its stiff carbon construction may be why. The Magic Ride’s wood construction dampened the ride through chop. Less rider feedback underfoot is easy to misinterpret as less speed. In this case, both boards felt fast. But while the Atom’s ride was lively and high strung, the Magic Ride’s top speed felt smooth and hands off — inspiring me to keep the pedal down. Which board was faster? A tough one, but I give the edge to the Atom.
Dislikes: A minor quip, but the Atom’s short length and volume distribution required stance adjustments while schlogging to prevent burying the nose. The Magic Ride was more stable.
The Atom best suits thrill seekers. It turns light-wind days into edge-of-your-seat sailing experiences. Speedsters, dragsters, amateur racers — the board is fast, fun, and above all, an exhilarating ride. It’s perfect for aggressive intermediate to expert riders looking to adrenalize less-than-perfect conditions.
The Magic Ride best suits all riders. It kept pace with the Atom, but casts a wider net. Any sailor can tap into the Magic Ride’s early planing, easy jibing and top speeds. Add its smooth ride through chop, and this board has succeeded where many wide shapes have fallen short: It offers plug-and-play performance for everyday sailors.
Demo the Starboard Atom IQ and JP Magic Ride at the Big Winds Demo Center, located in the Columbia River Gorge. The center is home to the nation’s largest (and latest) fleet of JP, Goya, Naish, Quatro and Starboard boards. Up to $100 in demo fees go toward the purchase of a new board.
Eddy Patricelli was a former test editor for WindSurfing magazine and has been sailing the Gorge for 20 years. He weighs 180 pounds when he avoids pasta. See him fully plane with his son on board here.