For those in the know Vassiliki in Greece, while windy during the summer months, can be a little inconsistent in terms of how steady the breeze is. It’s easy to fall into the trap of going slightly bigger with your windsurfing kit to compensate. If you’re on the lighter side of the weight spectrum, happy to bog about and wait for the gusts or an instructor then maybe this isn’t an issue. When you want/need to maximise your water time, however, it’s a different ball game. Fast forward to the first session of our Vass trip and my immediate choice of sled was the biggest Flare in Starboard’s freestyle range, the 111.
With it’s high level of finishing and distinct electric green to carbon fade Starboard’s attention to detail shines through as always. Footstraps and pads appear top spec and adjustments are fairly easy and swift.
As with all Starboard windsurf boards fitting the mast foot and UJ are extremely obvious with bold markings pinpointing optimised positioning – advanced sailors may still choose to experiment here though. A Taty Frans signature 20cm G10 fin sits in the back, which is milled to perfection.
What became increasingly obvious, having completed a few runs, was the Starboard Flare 111 was simply too big for my style of sailing and aspirations. (It was much the same story for my wife who had chosen the Flare 91 as her starting blocks ride).
So a quick switch was needed and while we kept the same size sails I dropped down to the Flare 101 and Fi hit up the Flare 81. Fins were also smaller with mine being 18cm and the 81 boasting a teeny tiny 16cm in size.
Onto the water
Where the 111 Flare felt sluggish (it really needed a heavier sailor to positively drive it forwards) the 101 displayed a rather more get up and go attitude – responding well to gusts and sliding through lulls with efficiency. As with most modern freestyle sticks you’ll need to ride off the front foot more than your freeride board but the Flare 101 does cope with overzealous technique and therefore offers newbie riders a degree of room for error.
Top speed is admirable and certainly ample for chucking your body and gear into full power moves. Even at moderate pace the Flare 101 is easy enough to sling round – it’s just always easier the more power you have.
With modern freestyle moves being of the aerial variety many windsurfers would be forgiven for thinking that ALL associated kit would need to be sailed as such. Not so with the Starboard Flare 111. While certainly accommodating those radical bendy limbed individuals it also offers a great platform for first time rotators, sliders and freestylers. If you’re looking to perfect vulcans or spocks the Flare gives an easier route into to this side of windsurfing and isn’t quite so technical to sail as some.
Offering good pop, but forgiving landings if you overcook the height (as I tend to do), it slides backwards for miles and delivers tail end stability that allows riders to sort themselves out and focus on rig control. With its slightly slower speed the Flare 101 is great for nailing spocks as lightning fast rotations don’t leave much room for error when needing to switch hands efficiently.
Old school carving moves were also a revelation with the Flare 101. Let’s be honest: not everyone likes it ‘sick and gnarly’ with many preferring good ole duck gybes, 360s and helitacks. With such hard rail tails and small fins, as you find with many modern freestyle boards, these types of move are slightly trickier. The Flare, however, is a great vehicle for this style of sailing and to boot is happy simply blasting along in freeride mode – another trait not so commonly associated with modern freestyle kit.
As mentioned, construction is awesome with all parts of the Fare 101 high end and top notch. Durability is also pretty good and the board won’t ding easily.
Starboard’s Flare 101 is a little bit of a throwback to how freestyle windsurfing boards used to be pre kono, culo and burner days. Offering a heap of performance for the aspiring freestylist, old school or new school, it’s a great tutor and sled for those entering this side of windsurfing. Of course, if you’re of a high skill level then you’ll be able to unlock the full power aerial potential of the Flare although we’d suggest you’d be better off looking at the Flare 91. And for light weights, or super high winds, don’t forget the Flare 81 which was loved by my wife who weighs in at a meagre 56kg.
Special thanks to Club Vass who hosted us during our trip. Check out more about their holidays by hitting up www.clubvass.com
Action pics: www.edgeproductions.co.uk