Test Date: 9/18 2006
Location: Merritt Island, Florida
Wind: 5-12 mph. / 4-10 knots
Water conditions: Mild wind chop
Tester: Josh Sampiero (managing editor of WindSurfing magazine)
Weight: 220 lbs. / 99 kg.
Sail: 9.5 Aerotech Dagger
Exocet Warp-X 380 - 2007
Volume: 280 liters
Width: 65 cm.
Width (30 cm. from tail ): 31 cm.
Weight: 29.5 lbs. / 13,4 kg.
Fin box/fin: 52 cm. Tuttle box; centerboard foil 80 cm.
Sail size range: 6.5-9.5 m
After checking out the Warp-X 380 on the showroom floor at Surf Expo, I knew it was one of the boards I'd want to ride in the demo day's light winds. Its parallel rails and narrow tail look as if they'd cut through the water quickly and cleanly. An adjustable mast track and retractable centerboard mean this board is geared for old-school longboard racing. But it's got one cool new feature – a large removable tailpiece, designed to increase waterline in light air when engaged, and reduce wetted surface when planing for more of a shortboard feel when removed. We'll see if it works.
The first look I have at the Warp-X on the water happens while I'm sailing – Jackie Butzen, owner of Windward Sports in Chicago, comes cruising up behind me and then blows by me like I'm standing still. This is definitely the next board I'm grabbing when I get back to the beach.
I climb on in a gust, sheet in – and start smoothly but quickly accelerating. The board railed up quickly and I was soon looking for the forward strap. But the real magic happened as the gust ended and the glide continued.
Unlike hybrid-style longboards I've ridden, the pressure from the rail is gentle. The narrow tail releases water cleanly, just as expected. My favorite thing is that it's got gears – instead of the instant acceleration, I gain speed at a constant rate.
For someone who learned to sail on Formula gear, I find the adjustable mast track cool. The Warp-X's mast track adjusts almost too easily – a few times I unintentionally engage it while moving around the board – but it's fun to experiment and see what a huge difference the mast track positioning can make. With the 9.5 Dagger sail, I kept the mast forward until about 10-12 mph, then I moved it back as the board cruised onto a plane.
After a few sessions with the removable tailpiece in, I take a few runs with it removed. The board definitely loses a knot or two in displacement mode but it feels much looser on a plane. It's still not a shortboard – but there is a difference.
Heading up … tacking … still tacking … hopping to the other side … still tacking … OK, done. Sailors who are used to shortboard quick tacks should definitely plan ahead – I needed a little more space to get this baby around. The cool part? If I moved quickly and stayed light on my feet, I could maintain windward progress while tacking.
Jibing can be done in a relatively smaller space. Throw the clew up, get back on the tail and it'll pivot around fast.
This board has me seriously rethinking my Florida light-air quiver. It's technical but fun, and to be honest, I've never felt like I was going so fast without being on a full shortboard-like plane. Speed is windsurfing's most intrinsic appeal, and the Warp-X doesn't need a lot of wind to get you there. The Warp-X's long waterline and narrow tail naturally invite comparison to one of the most talked-about boards of the year, the Starboard Serenity. In fact, I had a chance to ride the Serenity on the same day in the same conditions I rode the Warp-X. Although the Serenity was one of the most innovative and unique boards I've ever sailed, the Exocet is the one that would make it into my personal board rack. Here's why:
Stability - The Exocet's slightly wider outline and flatter hull keep it more stable on the water – especially going downwind. Also, the Exocet is a board I'd feel comfortable letting aggressive novice sailors progress on; whereas I feel they might find the Serenity's narrow and less stable outline frustrating.
Range - The Serenity is a specialized board that performs well in a very limited range of wind. In fact, the Starboard brochure claims the Serenity performs best in 2-9 knots. The Warp-X, with both windward and reaching straps and an adjustable centerboard and mast track, promises a lot more range – an experienced sailor could sail it in 20 knots or more.
The Warp-X is race-ready and there's an established open longboard class for it. The retractable centerboard, adjustable mast track and foot straps (things the Serenity lacks) mean the Warp-X is much more at home on the race course.
In the end, though, each of these of boards has the feeling that many windsurfers have been missing for a long time -- the simple pleasure of the glide. Each board is suited to a particular sailor – it's up to you to decide exactly what you're looking for."
WINDSURING MAGAZINE CLICK HERE
EXOCET WINDSURF BOARDS CLIK HERE