Like it or not, the pace of the world we live in just keeps getting faster and faster. Our weekends pass away far too quickly, we spend our working week relentlessly tapping away at keyboards, connected to faster, more powerful computers; we drive faster cars and we eat too much fast food. While we might reminisce longingly about the times when the pace of life was much slower, there is simply no getting away from the fact that mankind is obsessed with speed.
In December 1889 a Frenchman with a rather long name risked life and limb to set one of the first official land speed records. He achieved an incredible speed of 39.24mph. Just over 120 years later the speed record now sits at over 400mph. Even cyclists in the Tour de France are at times exceeding 50mph!
Only 10 years ago, sailing fast on a windsurfer meant sacrificing control, comfort and cash to fork out on the latest and greatest race machines of the time. That was all well and good, but despite being fast they weren’t much fun to sail and required a fair bit of ability to get any level of performance from them, let alone stay dry around a corner.
But now things have improved somewhat. Now we have a breed of board called the ‘freerace’. Not only are they fast but they’re also comfortable and, dare I say, relatively ‘easy’ to sail. Just as Lance Armstrong might have had a wry smile on his face as he pedalled past our French friend and his 40mph record breaking car, we can now cruise in comfort at speeds that not long ago wouldn’t have been possible even on the most dedicated of race boards.
If you don’t sail in waves then the chances are you have an interest in speed and don’t want to be overtaken. Freeride boards (as we tested last year) are great for learning to gybe and mixing manoeuvrability with straight-line performance, but if you want real pace you need to look elsewhere.
If your body is clad in 100kg of muscle and you have your heart set on seeing Antoine Albeau wallow in your wake on the PWA slalom course, then you should probably look straight at the race lines that most brands offer. But if you’re of more average stature and hope to have some cartilage left in your knees in a few years’ time, then freerace boards are where the action is. These are designed to blend slalom board rivalling speed with a hefty dose of comfort and ease of use thrown into the mix.
We decided it was time to check out what was on offer in the freerace market, so took nine of the top offerings and sent our Clones camel-backing into the Egyptian desert to check them out…
Read the full test on our sister site, Boardseeker.com