Naish FreeWide 120 (2008)

Ed Davis

We love the Jonathan Ross wordplay of the name which expresses the nature of the board. It is billed to “set a new standard for early planing, light air, flat water freeride boards. Effortless planing, easy handling.” This is the new range from Naish which replaces the Icon and carries on where the successful Freeride Slalom range leaves off in both sizing and performance style.

Type: All-round freeride.

On the water:

Despite being one of the widest boards on test at 69cm and quoting 120L the Naish didn’t feel that big either in terms of stability and ease when off the plane, or in terms of manoeuvrability when planing. We expected it to be a forgiving, early planing, easy intermediate board but it proved to be more lively than we expected. It was best when well powered and blasting along when it feels exciting and comfortable and manoeuvrable for its size. It is not competitively quick but holds good speed. We found it a bit less comfortable in marginal winds or for getting on the plane when it seems to need a bit more technique than some smaller boards. Nevertheless, it planes reasonably early and feels deceptively small and fun in flat water or swell when wound up, though it can get a little nervous in chop. Despite quoting a max sail size of only 7.0, we found the Freewide held a 7.5m sail no problem. It gybes well, feeling smaller and nippier than its size would suggest.

Fittings: The deck is nicely domed and the strap positions are sensible. The straps themselves are basically good but some barefooted sailors find the front strap a bit hard when the front foot is twisted in blasting mode. The fin seemed fine.

Overall:

A board that split opinion. It was one of the top choices of our late intermediate heavyweight who loved to be well powered up, and really rated the board’s nippy ride and agile feel when blasting at speed. It was also well liked by one of the testers who found it comfortable to blast, versatile and comfortable. Others were a bit harder to please, due to it being a little more technical to sail than its rivals, which may slightly compromise its appeal for early to mid-intermediates. It is probably best suited to heavier mid to late intermediates, who will certainly find it fun and lively and Naish prices make their products particularly attractive at the moment. Those looking for an extra edge of speed or excitement / manoeuvrability may also find the Naish Freeride Slalom that we tested and liked last year, a better bet.

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