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Starboard Foil Slalom 81 board and GTR EVO slalom foil review

Author

Marco Boone

Published

20/06/2022

Slalom foiling is totally hot. In the PWA, even the die hard vin winssurfers are slalomfoiling. They have to go up to more than 25 knots, the wind foil is now faster than the fin. It is logical that there is also plenty of development in the slalom foil segment. We take a closer look at the Starboard Foil Slalom 81 with the Starboard GTR slalom foil introduced this year. Read our extensive findings of the board and the foil below.

Starboard Foil Slalom 81

Price € 3,069 | Length 210 cm | Width 81 cm | Volume 167 L | Weight 8.4 kg | Carbon Reflex Sandwich

What is immediately noticeable is how compact this board looks. It looks short, quite small and very thick. On the bottom of the foil box there is an extra edge, making the scope extra large. the board is 16.2 cm thick. Slightly thicker than the IQfoil 95, which was not really thin. Over the years, we have started to measure some basic aspects. What stands out with the Starboard Foil Slalom 81 is that the mast rail is 7.5 cm further forward than with the IQfoil board 95 , also the foot straps are a few centimeters more forward (measured compared to the foil box as a fixed point). In addition, the rear foot straps are relatively more inward. The idea behind this is that the weight is more forward so that your half wind has more control over the set. Of course, that’s what slalom foiling is all about!

Compared to the 2021 model, something has been added to the rocker area, creating a raised edge in the middle of the board where the foil box is located (right photo). This adjustment would make the board easier to ‘pop’ up. The deployment range of the board should be between 6.0m2 and 9.0m2 according to Starboard. We expect that the sizes 5.0m2 to 7.0m2 are ideal on this board. We’ll come back to that later.

Light and sensitive

We go with the Severne HG4 7.0m2 and the new Starboard GTR EVO slalom foil on the water with about 12 to 16 knots of wind. We immediately notice that, despite the compact set up, the board makes speed very easily and comes up. Instinctively we come up not much later than with the IQfoil 95 with the IQfoil carbon. It feels fast, light and sensitive in the air. The acceleration of the set really stands out. A great feeling. It immediately becomes clear that the set up, trim of the set and pressure in the sail must be much more precisely matched to each other in order to be able to wind foil stably. That 1/2 centimeter mast base forwards or backwards makes a proportionally much more difference than on the IQfoil board. What is nice is that there is really a lot of volume in the board also in the nose, so you come up again with touch downs, easier than with the IQfoil 95 (which has even more volume). However, you have to tack or if you stand too far forward, be careful that the short nose does not disappear under water. In the beginning we also had to get used to the thickness of the board. We were a little wobbly (windward /leeward) on the board than we are used to. After a number of sessions we were completely used to this.

Back to slalom foiling. Despite the fact that we are clearly looking for the right balance in the set in the beginning, it is clear that it easily goes fast. On the GPS we easily score averages (over total session!) of more than 40 km /h. The shorter half-wind runs also immediately show very nice averages of about 43 to 44 km / h.

The light-footedness of the board is what continuously stands out in a positive sense, also the jibing is very easy and you can also easily use a lay down jibe. It soon feels a bit like the good old fin slalom sailing. Once we find our position, we also have that feeling half wind. You can push as hard as you dare to go! You feel from everything that it is going fast and that is really kicking. The board is more technical to foil than a freeride board and challenges you to push boundaries. If you are looking for that in a foilboard, then you have a good one with this board.

Starboard Foil Slalom 81 with 8,0m2 can, but not optimal

With a little less wind we take the HGO 8.0m2 on the board. That is also fine in itself, but if we compare this with the IQfoil 95 or the Foil Slalom 91 then a wider board gives more control and you also have a better lever, because you are further away from the sail. That gives more control and therefore you can push better, so you are also faster. The Severne HyperGlide 4 6.0m2 also combines really well. We expect that a 5.0m2 foil slalom sail also works really well on this board. The ideal size for this board is between 5.0m2 and 7.0m2.

Starboard Foil Salom 81, from free racing to high-end slalom

Once used to the board, it is really relaxed and light foiling in medium wind conditions. Compared to the Starboard Freeride , this board sails lighter, is faster and more relaxed to wind foil half wind, because the foot strap positions are optimized for this. We can imagine that the demanding freerider will also be very charmed by this board and that this board is a nice next step for people who have now outgrown their freeride foilboard.

Do you want to get the most out of this board and go through the 50 km/h in high wind conditions? That requires a lot of training, a good technique, a perfect set up and guts. In the optimal set up you have a lot of pressure in sail, but also quite a lot of lift that you have to check. Okay you can mount smaller front and back wings, but you need a certain amount of lift in the foil that ensures stability of the set and power in the sail. With wings that are too small, too much energy goes into holding up the set and you are ultimately not fast.

Starboard GTR Slalom Carbon EVO Foil

Price € 2.499,- | Carbon mast 95 cm C300 | Fuselage 105 cm EVO | Front wing 650 cm2 C300 EVO | Back wing 255 -2 C300

Starboard has completely renewed the GTR and turned it into a Slalom foil. For many wind foilers, a front wing of only 650 cm2 is a big step ‘down’. For comparison, the Slalom Pros in the PWA have as front wings smaller than 400 cm2! So basically you can say that the GTR slalom is an accessible all-round slalom foil. That’s absolutely right. We flew this foil on the Starboard Foil Slalom 81, on the IQfoil 85 and IQfoil 95 and on the Starboard Freeride. This foil works very well on every board, even on the IQfoil 95 with an 8.0m2 surprisingly well.

Of course, you need a higher base speed with the Starboard GTR than with an average race foil, but as soon as you have the speed, the foil feels surprisingly stable and the foil also gives really good lift. If the wind dips for a while, we notice that the foil really stays lifted for a long time. Jibing is also very easy. Keep in mind that the speed at which you are jibing is automatically higher, which ensures that you best turn a long corner. But even then, the foil remains stable and holds enough lift to easily stay in the air.

Sweet spot + 0.5 back wing spacer for Starboard GTR slalom

We have already mentioned above that the set up listens much more closely than an average set up. In the beginning we were very much looking for a balance in the set. We use the – 0.5 spacer and the 0 spacer and it turned out to be difficult to keep the height balance. With each gust, the tip of the board was pressed onto the water. The set was very unstable. In addition, we lacked sufficient pressure, especially ‘back hand pressure’, in the sail. We pulled the under part of the sail over the foot straps every time, which in turn caused an annoying instability. The mast foot all the way back helped a bit, but that made the board very nervous again.

With the +0.5 spacer we had the sweet spot. The foil also provided a much more constant lift in gusts. And yes on average, the lift was also more. As a result, the behavior was also much more predictable. In addition, the sail generated much more pressure here, which made us go faster. We had to open the sail a little more, so that the under part of the sail no longer touched the rear foot straps. Then the mast foot also went forward about 2 cm more, which also gave a calmer sailing behavior. So in summary, the sweet spot is the 0.5 spacer. It’s now standard on it!

Starboard front wing 575 EVO surprisingly good and easy

We’re just throwing one more variable into the fray. We mount the front wing 575 EVO with a little more wind (can also be used with the 7.0m2) and immediately we go a lot faster. We leave the back wing spacer at + 0.5 and this also seems to be the right set up for the 575 EVO front wing. With wind dips you are more likely to lack lift and with jibing you have to keep more speed, but we had estimated this front wing more difficult. This front wing is worthwhile as a supplement to the GTR Slalom from about 17 knots wind the 575 is easier and faster.

Starboard GTR EVO Slalom also with aluminum mast

Starboard offers the GTR slalom in addition to the carbon mast also with the well-known 95 cm aluminum mast. Our experience with this mast (including IQfoil junior) is that the performance of this mast is not very good. The mast gives a relatively large amount of resistance and especially in the half wind courses the mast can be somewhat unpredictable. That actually means that this mast is not suitable for this foil and what it is intended for. Our advice is therefore to save for the version with the much better carbon mast.

Conclusion Starboard GTR EVO Carbon Slalom good all-rounder

The accessibility of the Starboard GTR Slalom really surprised us. As well as the fact that this foil also does very well under both wide and freeride foilboards. Once you have mastered slalom foiling (and are 🙂 addicted) then you quickly get the need to buy smaller wings to really set the real records. Starboard now supplies the SLR front wings and SLR back wings for the Evolution fuselages.

Test the Starboard Foil Slalom 81 or GTR slalom foil yourself

By appointment it is possible to test the Starboard foil slalom 81 and GTR slalom foil. This is only possible if you are already an experienced wind foiler. If you want advice or want to test the board of foil, please send us an email.