2016 Reactor: Exclusive Test by WIND Mag
The Reactor Exclusive Test was featured in the May 2015 edition of WIND Magazine,
along with an interview of one of the board’s designers, Dany Bruch.
2016 Starboard Reactor Carbon: “A fun all-rounder that works in all conditions”
|Reactor 79 Carbon
Length: 211 cm
|Reactor 82 Carbon
Length: 212 cm
Reactor 82 Carbon
Reactor 79 Wood
Resolutely compact with a length of 210 centimeters for the 79 liter and 214 centimeters for the 87 liters, the new Starboard Reactor is relatively wide with a pronounced nose: 58.5 centimeters maximum width for the 79 and 61.5 centimeters for the 87.
It features a rather straight rocker line, ending in a much narrower swallow tail: less than 38 centimeters wide at 30 centimeters from the tail for the Reactor 79 and less than 40 centimeters wide for the Reactor 87. The bottom shape bears a mono-concave merging into a pronounced double-concave, finishing with a flat Vee on the tail.
The chosen fin configuration is a quad setup, with two Drake Twin Surf 14.5 in the back and two Drake Natural Wave 11 in the front for the smallest sizes, going up to Drake Twin Surf 16.5 on the Reactor 99. It is worth mentioning that the back Twin Surf fins have a very wide base which help them grip despite being relatively shallow.
The Starboard Reactor will soon be available in Wood and Carbon constructions.
On the Water:
We had the opportunity to sail the Reactor 79 and Reactor 82 extensively on the spots of Sprecks and Ho’okipa, with sail sizes between 4.2m² and 5.0m² and waves ranging from waist to mast high. This is our report:
With its imposing width, the Reactor handles sail size and floats well. The Reactor 79 can easily be paired with a 5.0m², and potentially a 5.3m². It is probable that the Reactor 82 can handle up to a 5.7m². Both the Reactor 79 and the Reactor 82 allowed us to sail in 4.2m², even though the 79 seemed more at ease in this setup.
With volume beneath the feet and a rather straight rocker line, the Reactor gets planing early and reaches a very decent cruising speed. The board accelerates quickly and efficiently to reach its cruising speed but the top speed isn’t the most striking. However, the control in a straight line is never an issue thanks to well balanced volume distribution and it goes over chop very well despite its imposing width.
In the surf, the resemblance to the Black Box is felt in the sense that the Reactor immediately accelerates, even in small mushy waves. It allows to start carving at low speeds, with tolerance for foot placement errors. The turns are tight and radical. Slightly late to the lip? The Reactor handles white water in the top turn extremely well thanks to a lot of grip from the wide back fins. Projection into aerials is surprising: the board takes off even in small, gutless waves which wouldn’t have allowed for aerials with a more traditional board.
When the conditions improve, the Reactor remains a lot of fun to be sailed. The rail length is utilized to its best in every turn. It allows for very tight turns at low to medium speeds, both in the bottom and top turns without requiring huge amounts of pressure. At high speeds in the big waves of Ho’okipa, the board is well behaved in the bottom turn, but requires a bit more pressure, especially when initiating the turn. It can sometimes feel a bit corky but the control is very correct.
The main advantage of the Starboard Reactor lies in its cutbacks; powerful and radical, with a lot of reactivity to string together the next turn rather than in vertical surfs. The Starboard prefers short bottom turns but will hold a longer bottom turn if needed. It’s not the fastest on the wave but has the advantage of never slowing down or stopping.
Don’t let yourself be fooled by its looks of bulkiness, as the maneuverability and reactivity are extremely good, notably when finishing a cutback and re-accelerating before the next turn. The grip and power in the turns are excellent: the board can be pushed as hard as possible and it will hold. When stringing together turns, the Reactor brings continuity and flow to your surfing, even though the quality of the wave varies.
In all conditions, the projection into airs is excellent. You just need to place the nose on the lip, and thanks to the width, it’s difficult to miss it. As a result, you are thrown into the air and only need to bend the knees until landing.
In definitive, the Reactor’s affiliation with the Black Box is very subtle. The Reactor does benefit from most of its big sister’s qualities in mushy conditions but with heaps more versatility to become an all-rounder that works and is fun in all conditions. It’s more of a board to string together multiple cutbacks and aerials rather than producing vertical 12-to-6 turns although in less than ideal conditions, it allows the best carving.
The Reactor adapts itself to all conditions but might require some time to adapt to for riders used to traditional, long and slender boards. Worth mentioning, the Reactor is a board that enables to go down one sail size, and who is actually more at ease when properly powered up or slightly underpowered rather than overpowered.
We are now very eager to compare it to other ultra-compact boards appearing on the market this summer.
Visit www.star-board-windsurfing.com on July 15th for the official release of the 2016 Reactor.
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