Review: Nathan Scheu
Location: Jacksonville Beach, Florida
For 2018 F-One has released a new compact shape called the Slice and I had the fortunate opportunity to get my hands on one of the first 5’3 Carbon models in the United States. I come from a background of riding mostly the 5’8″ Mitu model kite surfboards so I was a little skeptical at first that the smaller dimensions of the new Slice would accommodate my size considering that I weigh 185 pounds. I never really thought a 5’3” surfboard would be big enough for me. After my very first ride, I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that it not only worked perfectly, but I was flying upwind much more than I would be on a traditional pointed-nose surf shape.
The new shape of the Slice can best be described as somewhat rectangular, with a squared off nose and very thin parallel rails that lead to a winger style, diamond-shaped tail. It has a fairly flat rocker with a single concave that runs the length of the board which becomes deeper and channel-like as it exits the tail. Although this board is only 18.3″ wide, the rectangular shape makes for a very stable platform when in the air or during landings and gybes. The parallel rail shape and concave bottom design make this board go upwind better than any other surf shape I’ve ridden, and it works really good in light winds too. I was comparing my tacks to my friends who were also on surfboards and was amazed by how much further upwind my angles were, it reminded me of the upwind angles you can find on hydrofoil boards.
When it comes to aerial maneuvers this board has an amazing pop to it due to the wide tail and flatter rocker, and the square nose really helps catch the wind underneath the board and helps stabilize fins first landings. I’ve landed several strapless freestyle tricks I had been struggling with on this board and it all has due to the way this board loves to fly. The short length and light weight really help you take off like a rocket and spin the board around in the air. Everyone who has felt this board in their hands says the same thing, “wow this is light”. The funny thing about having a board so light is that you have to get used to retrieving it in strong winds, as it almost wants to fly out of the water and back at you if you grab it the wrong way.
The new Slice turns so fast and pivotal that it takes a little getting used to, but once you get it dialed in you can really throw it around in the waves. The rails of the board are the thinnest I’ve seen on a kite surfboard and they allow you to really bury them in the wave during turns, and it makes them easy to grab and hold while in the air. They also help to cut and slice through chop very nicely, like a hot knife through butter. Actually, the entire board seems thin at around 1.5″ thick but when you include some taper the rails come out to be about 1″ thick, that blows me away!
For 2018 F-One have also introduced their new fin template – 2018 Flow Fins. They are small size fins that are 4.25″ tall and I was unsure they would work for me since I’ve always ridden medium and large size fins in the 4.5″ to 4.75″ range. They have a wide base and decent rake for good drive along with a thin tip for quick release. Let me tell you, they work like a charm and I believe that’s one reason the Slice goes upwind so extraordinarily well is that the smaller fins have less drag. Another benefit of the smaller Flow fins is a quick release when launching into the air, or into a spinning aerial maneuver, which makes freestyle moves much easier. They even make fins first landings and riding easier since they don’t catch as easily as a bigger fin.
If you’re into strapless freestyle, wave riding or if you just want a stable platform for your first kite surfboard, the new Slice model from F-One should definitely be on your radar in 2018. It comes in sizes 5’1″ or 5’3″, and in three different constructions: Carbon, HD Foam Composite, and ESL. Contact Bay Area Kitesurf or your local F-One dealer to set up your demo today, you won’t regret it.