Last week we had the chance to test the new Fanatic Fly Race 12’6″ 27.75″ in carbon. It is a narrower, faster version of last years successful 12’6″ 30.5″ model, designed for lighter, more experienced riders.
We tested it in different conditions, flat canal water, flat canal water made choppy from a few racers, choppy floodwater, paddling upstream against a strong current @ high waters on the main river and even a small wave.
Key conclusion: It’s soo fast and lightweight, yet amazingly stable in choppy conditions.
The weight. The carbon version is so light, it feels like you can lift it with 2 fingers. Unloading it from the car or carrying it a few hundred meters is no problem at all. Update: We got a chance to weigh the final model properly. 8.5kg without fin (350g more). pretty amazing.
The speed. It’s so easy to paddle and just goes on and on and on. fast. Very fast. That’s why it has already been nicknamed ‘red rocket’. Paddling upstream against a strong current during highwater on Isar was sooo easy. It feels like the bow just cuts the water and then magically flies over it.
The stability. I have to admit, I am no fan of those narrow, shaky raceboards (“toothpicks”). But this one felt really good and is very stable, even in choppy waters (we tested both, choppy isar river during floodwaters and choppy canal water from paddling behind a few other racers). While we were paddling on the canal, 2 friends randomly passed by. They are seasoned Eisbach surfers, but never stood on a SUP before. They both gave it a try and managed to paddle smoothly without falling in. The board has a volume of 225 L, 5 more litres than the Imagine Carbon Sprinter. The volume somehow feels like more, probably because a lot if it is in the V-shaped front. We hear the board is also really good for riding long ocean swells.
Turns. Turning on this board is great because that tail shape gives a very good and predictable control of speed in to the mark. Due to it being nice and light especially in the nose it is very easy to start and stop rotation in a pivot turn. With the shape of the bow and the “v” running through the front 1/3 of the board you can also control direction via opposite rail extremely well and make quite dramatic turns without changing you paddle stroke or slowing down.
Waves. Quite amazing for a race board, you can even ride and make turns on small waves with it. It seems to want to catch everything and the bow shape makes it work very well in short period waves as well. Here is a video of the boards in waves.
The design. I am a visual person and I have to admit this board first caught my attention when Charlie posted some photos of it. I normally don’t like red and have never owned a red vehicle, piece of furniture or piece of sports equipment before, not even a red jacket or sneakers, but this board really is a beauty. The red board in the sand, the red board on blue or brown-green water, the red board on the green grass or next to the white campervan, it just always looks great. Besides, research showed that soccer teams wearing red are more likely to win, so who knows what that color will do to your paddling speed? But then again, for a really long tour you might find the red a bit aggressive and annoying.
The bittersweet. The only negative thing at all I can say about the Fanatic Fly 12’6″ 27.75″ carbon racer is just a practicality: There is no flat part in the front on which you could mount a Gopro camera or a lower area where you could store a bag/water bottle. Even if you were to install a net, the stuff would roll down either side. I am aware that is kind of an unreasonable demand for a race board, but then again, when you go touring you would want a board that is fast, yet stable and the Imagine Carbon Sprinter, the Naish Catalina and the Tahoe Bliss have such features behind similar dimensions and weight. But there is nothing to do about that, as for the Fanatic Board the non-flat tip is a central part of the design, it means the nose comes right back up and the water runs down on both sides. You could of course mount a Gopro camera with a fin plug, but some might argue “why carry the extra weight in a race?” The board is best for average sized riders, 85-90 kg max, taller, heavier riders might prefer the 30.5″ model. Etienne, who is very tall was the only one from our test crew not overly happy with it, all other test riders loved the red rocket for its speed and stability.
All in all, it’s a truly amazing board and my personal favourite from the boards I tried so far. The 3 days of paddling with it were so much fun, that I even forgive the board for drowning my gopro HD (the suction mount came of in rough waters after I had stupidly tried to mount it as close as possible to the center on day three). We are curious how the board will compare vs. the Coreban Alpha Race and the Imagine Carbon Sprinter, when the Sprinter’s middle fin has arrived.
The full technical Specifications of the board can be found here.
And here are some photos of the Board in Action: