Starboard have gone for quite a radical redesign of the Kombat for ’08, signalled by changing the colour from the traditional blue and grey to a very eye-catching yellow. The nose rocker has been lowered while the tail rocker appears to have been increased. The rails are said to have been sharpened, the length dropped slightly and the tail width narrowed. However, the 89 has not had the same significant tweaking in terms of thickness (as per Starboard’s developments on other ranges such as the Futura and iSonic), that the rest of the Kombat range has been given.
The brochure claims improved early planing, but it’s still more in line with the wave-biased boards for speed onto the plane. Once up and running though it does seem to feel more engaged and less remote than previous Kombats, with a slightly harder edge to the ride – several sailors noted that the nose got quite slappy in the chop which unsettled the ride in rougher conditions. Nevertheless, it blasts fast and tracks well on the tail, taking up to 6.0m sails with ease.While not quite as loose and turny as previous models it is still quick to change direction. It’s very easy to take into the gybe and holds a line well even when overpowered, although it’s one of the more technically challenging boards to maintain speed on the exit. The waveriding performance isn’t quite as hot as last year’s model as it’s a bit more straight-liney in feel, but it cuts into carving turns very easily and reliably.
The double density shock absorbed pads are very comfortable and the straps are fine, although the degree of adjustment isn’t that great and they set quite low, wide and flat. The fin is classic box fitting.
The Kombat was not popular with the guesters but a bit more appreciated by the testers. It is the bigger Kombats where the majority of R&D and design changes have been focused and Starboard report exciting developements.We look forward to testing the 105 very shortly.
The new Kombat 89 keeps its bias towards slightly more powered up sailing, but can turn its hand to many disciplines across a wide wind range and could make a useful strong wind all-rounder for intermediate to advanced sailors who don’t require a waveboard. Price: £969 inWood construction with 26cm classic box fin (£869 in Technora).
ADDENDUM: Unfortunately the board was supplied with a more upright 26cm fin rather than the correct 25cm wave fin. A smaller fin would obviously reduce the early planing, but should improve the manouevrability and soften the ride slightly, and increase the top end still further.