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Mistral Joker 104 (2008)

15:56 28th April 2010 by Ed Davis
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This is the biggest of Mistral’s two freestyle boards. Both are marketed specifically as freestyle boards for expert sailors and new-school tricks.

On the water:

The Joker 104 is a bit bigger than most of the other boards, with its 66.5cm width clearly evident underfoot. It is also quite big in other ways with a chunky slab tail and wide nose. It feels very much like a specialist board as soon as you get on it. The Joker has the most nose rocker, most tail rocker and shortest planing flat of all the freestyle boards and inevitably this makes itself felt in the early planing. Although it clearly does need a little bit more wind than most, the extra width also slightly offsets this effect – so although one of the latest to plane in marginal winds its range is still very acceptable. The other slight downside of the rocker is that it is a little harder to keep upwind than most with a small fin. The upsides are a really manoeuvrable and lively feel when planing, very good control in stronger winds and good suitability in waves. Its bulk and rocker make it a little harder to pop in lighter winds but very easy in stronger winds, and for non-competent freestylers it feels like one of the very easiest and safest to go for tricks on. Everybody seemed united in praise for its easy slide and spin and the stability it provides through moves. It was generally felt to be a board that excelled in fast moves, providing good control and proving very easy to finish moves on. It was also felt to be one of the least likely to be upset by chop. It’s an extremely comfortable board underfoot and fun to blast at speed but lacks a bit in upwind and early planing for freeride, and though very loose and turny feels quite big in the carve. It is, however, very suitable for waves.

Fittings:

The 25cm G10 fin is a good crossover but really a bit big for freestyle. The straps were well liked. The deck has ridges that pass under the instep, effectively giving loads of dome under the feet. This makes for a very comfortable sailing position and good grip for most freestyle but was found less suitable for switch-stance moves. Popularity Generally high, but mixed. Top equal for Emile and one of the boards of choice for the aspirant freestylers. The bigger size and higher power requirement saw it fall down the lists for some, but all liked it.

Overall:

The Mistral’s an excellent board for well powered freestyle in less than perfect water conditions since it’s very forgiving in chop and swell and very pivotal / slidey and stable. It has good crossover as a big waveboard (though don’t expect the most agile carving) and seems to give a big foot up to freestyle learners. It’s less suited to marginal wind, pump-&-plane freestyle or as a freeride / freestyle crossover.

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