Sunday 1 January 2012

Exocet RS4 Slalom board

I like the black and yellow one...
No, I prefer the RS,
Or maybe the Sports.....
I like them all!
Christmas comes but once per year, but not if Ian Kraft the UK Agent for Exocet gets involved! New Years Eve was another time for presents for me, and it was better than any other Christmas. After the Redsurfbus reviews of the Exocet SL Sport boards Ian asked me to be a Team Rider for Exocet and SurfKraft. I gratefully accepted as I really enjoyed using the boards and found them a bit more user friendly than other older slalom kit I currently have. The red SL Sports helped me at Weymouth Speed week and I learnt a lot about powering up a board fully on one of them, reaching what must be near the top end speed for my weight on the 66cm (wide) of 33.5knots.
Peachy arse

I decided that I would go for the SL 78cm (129l) which was a pure joy to ride. My older Starboard Carve of 133l felt sluggish in comparison, so much so that by the time I gave the boards back to Ian I had sold on my Carve. It feels fast and handles chop well, gybes like a dream, even if it feels different to my smaller boards and requires a big step to engage the rail.

To compliment this for the BSA Slalom I had decided I wanted the RS4, which is 69cm wide and 111l. They also do the RS3, 100l-64cm wide, this created a hard choice of which one to go for. I opted for the larger of the two knowing that in the long run I would get the RS2, 90l-59cm as well. The larger one should be better for the slalom racing. 

It got a LOT of attention on its first day on the water.
I had no idea that Ian had already decided to bring these boards down to me on a good forecast, this was incredibly generous of him. It also allowed him some time on the water in a flat environment to aid the recovery of his Achilles tendon, Ian you are welcome here whenever you want!  Last Wednesday a plan was hatched as the forecast for Saturday was looking good. Enough wind for decent Windsurfing but no too much to make it difficult as Ian needs to take it easy for his first few sessions back on the water.
Handover of two amazing bits of kit
I want them all!!! I need them!!!
He arrived to a full cooked breakfast at my flat, it was a good excuse as I don't often eat fried food now for reasons that are clear if you look back in this website. Great excuse for a feast though, I think he enjoyed it, I certainly did! After a brief stop at Windtek we got to the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy and rigged up by around 11am.

It was a good excuse for a bit of a photo session as he gave me the boards. Exocet offer a wide and versatile range of boards, I have my eye on many of them and over the coming months and years I hope to write a bit about each different board after trying them out. There are certainly a few I have my eye on for personal use in the future for those odd days when I am not Slalom training or Speedsurfing for the GPS Team Challenge.

First impressions were fast gybes and fast planing with a good top end. Time will tell, my first session in light winds I nearly beat a couple of PB's
I had a good 90mins on the water playing with some of the team and chasing down Ian who was doing really well considering he only recently took off his Achilles 'boot' to allow for full ankle movement. He was close to 25knots on a BIG freeride board, their SCross 126l, which is impressive for the size of the board combined with the condition of his ankle.

The Exocet RS4 took me to just over 30knots which I was pleased with for the first time on  the board. I felt slightly underfinned and am sure I could have got another knot or 2 with an extra 2.5cm of fin. My Black Project fin quiver is now nearly full (35, 37.5, 40, 45cm Type R, and 29, 32cm Type S), they arrived that morning but not early enough to use. I had my 35cm in which is towards the smaller end of the scale for this board. I will test it with all fins from 45cm down to 29cm and report on my findings in the long run, I have a feeling that the cut off point will be around 32cm.

The thing I wanted to do on this first outing was beat my personal best Alpha (500m with a gybe midway, ending within 50m of the start) of 21.2knots. I was close on several attempts but did not quite make it with 20.05 being my fastest (results can be found here). I was very pleased to see that I had a lot of Alphas above 19knots, more I think than ever before in one session, which equates to full planing gybes. This seems to be my cut off point for full planing gybes, below 18knots I can do with non-planing, above either needs to be very windy and only a second off the plane or planing all the way round without dropping below 10-12knots. I was happy that it gybed so easily, this I think I can say is due to both the board and the fin. They work really well together. Ever since going over to Black Project fins I have found my gybes improve consistently where I spent much of the early part of this year and the last half of last at a plateau where I was on the edge of full planing all the time.
Another thing I like about the ride of the board is how flat it rides, the nose does not bounce around much at all, even through the chop further out in the harbour. 

The board is 235cm long, like all in the range. I found that it looks short when sailing but isn't for tacking. There is plenty of volume in front of the mast track to allow for the more heavy footed tacker. 

The footstraps are really high quality, they are firm and wide and remind me in feel to that of the Dakine Core Contours. They are a lot more adjustable than the Core Contours though, with velcro rather than a screw driver requirement.

Footstrap placement is different to most other boards I have used, and is really effective. Instead of the usual placement of 2 sets of 3 plug holes close to each other, there are 4 placed in a line allowing fine tuning adjustment for the taller/shorter sailor. This is a refreshing change I think. I will post pictures in a future article once I have tried out a few different positions. Currently I have set them in the back holes for the rear straps and mid holes for the front, I like a wide stance.

I know I am going to enjoy this relationship with Exocet, and will do my very best to help get them to where they deserve to be - under the feet of a lot more windsurfers in the UK. To do this I will report on my findings while training, and hopefully get a reasonable place in my first ever Slalom Series.

I know the Exocets and Black Project fins work like a dream together, I really can't wait to get the Hot Sails GPS working with them.

Happy new year, and best wishes for 2012
'The Bus'

PS...on a side note I said I would raise money for W4CR this year, my first ever ebay sale has just finished and 10% (6.70) will be winging its way to Windsurfing 4 Cancer Research already.


  1. Lee, what fin did you end up finding worked best on the RS4? Looking for fin sizes for 6.6, 7.6 and 8.4 - 7.6 will probably be most used size. Cheers.

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  2. Hi James, sorry for the delay in replying.
    If its 6.6 weather I tend to use my RS2, as 7.6 gets powered then I move to that board.

    With the RS4 I use a 40 Type R for underpowered 8m, 37.5 for powered and 35 Type S for well powered speed runs (had 35knots with that combination).

    The 42 Type RS I think will be perfect for 8m+ but havent tried it yet.

    For my 7.3 I use 37.5 down to the 35 type S in the RS4, and then drop to 35 type S or 32.5 type R on the RS2 (that combination is lightning). I have a new 32 Type RS that I want to try for speed runs with that board.

    In essence the fin range for that board goes from 35 to 42 IMO, although I know some would use bigger I have had a lot of time on that board and know it as well as anyone. I think the tail design allows for a smaller fin.

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  4. Hi all,
    I have an RS4 and an RS6. Here in central Pennsylvania we are lucky to have any wind. If we do, it can go fro 3mph to 20mph and gusty. I'm finding that I can only use my 8.5 on the RS6. Would I be better off trading both for an RS5? I am all for early planing, but when the wind picks up, the RS4 gets scary fast. I'm a recreational windsurfer at 66 years old and want to have fun - not be scared.


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