It’s always an exciting part of our year, when Quatro release their wave range. These guys work super hard at what they do and have a pretty legendary status within the wave board market and wave sailing as a whole. There’s barely a pro out there who hasn’t sailed a Quatro at one time or another. With a completely re-worked range for 2016, we sent Adrian Jones to check it out…
Volume – 86
Width – 58cm
Tail width (30cm) – 35.5cm
Length – 221cm
Weight complete – 7.55kg
Track from tail – 118cm
Strap spread – 60cm
Fins (Tri-fin) – 18cm + 2*10cm (US & mini tuttle)
Volume – 85
Width – 57cm
Tail width (30cm) – 35cm
Length – 225cm
Weight complete – 7.44.kg
Track from tail – 118cm
Strap spread – 59cm
Fins (Tri-fin) – 18cm + 2*10cm (US & mini tuttle)
Volume – 85
Width – 58.5cm
Tail width (30cm) – 38.25cm
Length – 217cm
Weight complete – 7.84.kg
Track from tail – 118.5cm
Strap spread – 61.5cm
Fins (Quad-fin) – 2*14.5cm + 2*9cm (US & mini-tuttle)
For 2016 Quatro are offering a choice of 4 wave boards within their range. They have the single-fin MONO, the thruster-finned SPHERE, the quad-finned CUBE and finish off with their hardcore piece-de-resistance, the thruster PYRAMID.
Quatro are pitching the Sphere as their ‘entry-level’ multi-fin board, offering plenty of speed and ease of use with a step-up in turning ability over a single fin. They are a bit more cryptic in who the Cube is pitched at, claiming it is a ‘quad control wave’ designed for speed and maneuverability…mmm. And then we have the Pyramid, which is surfing inspired and designed to be ‘the most progressive wave board on the market’. This is their hardcore hitter.
We’ve spent the last couple of months testing these three multi-fin offerings, so if you are wondering how they stack up and indeed which one is going to suit you best, then you’re about to find out!
ON THE BEACH
Quatro seem to have developed a knack for being ‘on-trend’ with their graphics and this year is no exception. All three designs look pretty eye-catching with a modern look tying in to their geometric names.
We are fans of Quatro’s surf board style, stepped rear deck pad, although this year the deck pads do feel firmer than previous years with a more apparent texture to the surface. This is something we have actually noticed with other brands boards as well.
The MFC straps are high quality pieces of kit. They have a nice soft feel on your feet, but are rigid enough not to be squashed in storage and board bags. We have noticed this year that despite the spacing between inserts remaining at 15cm, we have found the back strap feeling a little wider and actually had to pull it in a hole to make it sit a bit tighter against the sides of the foot. We think this is down to a slight reduction in the padding thickness at the bottom of the strap. It’s not a problem, but you may find if you sail barefoot and have narrower feet that you want to use a tighter hole option.
MFC also supply the fins on all three boards. These new ‘red’ composite fins (not G10) are designed to be softer and have engineered twist into them, which all makes sense. However we have found them to be a bit fragile this year when it comes to running them up the beach. Be careful!
Looking at the basic shape of the boards, the Sphere is the more classical in appearance – longer and narrower, with its stance set up a little further forward and a narrower spread between front and back straps. The Cube is the other end of the spectrum. It’s short (nearly 10cm shorter than the Sphere), wide and more parallel sided, with the tail width being nearly 3cm wider than the two thrusters – that’s a significant difference in a board with the same volume. Keith Teboul, the Quatro shaper has been working on bringing the stance of the boards further back to allow a more ‘radical’ control over the board. Both the Pyramid and Cube have been designed to allow for a more rearward stance with the straps positioned closer to the tail (the Cube is 2.5cm nearer the tail than the Sphere) and with a wider spread. When comparing dimensions, the Pyramid seems to sit somewhere between the two but has a more apparent ‘wedge shaped’ plan with a narrower tail to max width ratio than the other two. And just to keep things interesting, all three have different tail shapes!
Board weights are pretty respectable at around the 7.5kg mark. The Cube is a little heavier (perhaps because of having the extra fin) and the Sphere is just slightly lighter.
STRAIGHT LINE PERFORMANCE
Off the beach, none of these boards are slouchy, but the first up and going by a margin is the Cube, followed by the Sphere and then the Pyramid. The significantly wider tail of the Cube not just makes it the quickest to get going, but also arguably the easiest, as the board provides a really stable platform underfoot. The Sphere lacks the tail width, but the thruster set-up gives loads of bite and goes someway to making up for the tail width. The Pyramid is just behind the Sphere, but its by no means a draggy, high rockered wave board. In its own right, it actually gets planing pretty well, especially considering what it is capable of on the wave. But more on that after….
It’s a similar story for top speed. The Cube is the fastest and pretty fast actually for a wave board, followed by the Sphere, which seems to accelerate quickly, but then feels to have a more limited top speed than the Cube. The Pyramid feels pretty fast in the way it rides, because it sails free and reasonably lively, but when you pair it next to the Cube, it’s clear that it is not as fast.
For comfort and ease of sailing, it’s a tough call between the Cube and the Sphere. The Cube stays trimmed and rides really easily with all that tail width under your feet. It also goes upwind and off the wind well, thanks again to that extra beef and a really grippy fin configuration for a Quad. The Sphere is more traditional in the way it sails, where you can drive it off the back foot more and the board cuts a smoother line across the water. The Pyramid with its narrow tail and rearward stance, takes a bit more concentration compared to the other two. Again, it’s not bad at all, but for instance when you fly off a piece of chop, the Cube stays perfect trimmed and level almost of its own accord, whereas the Pyramid requires more rider input to keep things in check.
For jumping, it’s a tough call between the Cube and Sphere. The Cube has the speed and wide tail to get around and find your ramp, but the Sphere has the smoothness and a bit more drive from the fins. That longer, narrower profile also just seems to say ‘jump me’!
The Pyramid is fine, but out of the three, you wouldn’t be choosing it as the jump board. It’s just a bit less direction, slightly slower and not quite as quick to get going.
ON THE WAVE
I expected the Pyramid to take the helm here, followed by the Cube and the Sphere, probably some distance behind, but in practice I was proven wrong.
Let’s start with the Pyramid. Here in North Wales where we did the testing, the waves are generally a bit softer and slower than you might get in the more hardcore destinations. The first day I rode this board, it was good conditions for us, logo high, cross-shore (slight bit of off in it) and after sailing the Cube for an hour, I really expected the Pyramid to blow the socks off it. But it didn’t. At least not at first. I remember laying into the first bottom turn on the first wave and being instantly surprised at how wide an arc the board cut. I was expecting snappy, tight and explosive. But instead it felt almost pedestrian and definitely not as fast, tight and reactive as the Cube. I was quite surprised and it took me a few waves to work out what was going on. It seems that to get the goods from the Pyramid, you have to use a different technique. I’m used to perhaps a more ‘old-school’ technique of driving forward in the bottom turn and using the rail and shoulders of the board to grip and drive. With the Pyramid, you have to instead drive/ stamp a hard turn off your back foot. When you do this, I have to say, the board is amazing. I have never sailed a board that holds so much speed and grip through such a tight turn. It suddenly feels like you have a banana shaped board under your back foot, that just wants to turn, turn and turn some more. It’s super impressive.
The difficulty I had however, is that I had to completely change my technique to get the best from this board. And I don’t think this technique (or the board) suit our conditions so well. In cross-off powerful waves (which this board is designed for), you are surfing the board more, with a lot less power in the rig. Your angle to the wave when dropping down it is also a lot more favorable. You are quite often already on your toeside, whereas in cross/ cross on conditions, most of the time, you are actually dropping down the wave on your heel side and this makes things rather different when it comes to the bottom turn. In cross off, its pretty much a redirect, whereas in cross-on, it’s a full transition from your heelside rail to the toeside (often with a lot of power in the rig) and then a turn. I don’t think the style that you need to adapt to get the best from the Pyramid lends itself so well to the type of turn you have to do in less ideal riding conditions. As a gunning down the line board for snapping tight, hard, fast turns, I can imagine the Pyramid to be in a league of its own. It not only turns so tightly with so much grip, but it also carries speed right through the turn, which really lets you finish off your top turn and flow into the next. However in our comparatively feeble waves and cross-on conditions, it just doesn’t feel like the riding style that you have to use to get the best from this board works like it does in proper front side riding conditions.
The Cube however was a ripper in these conditions. It’s fast, responsive and easy. Whether driving over the front of the board or snapping a quick turn off the back foot, the Cube delivered it all and provided a seamless transition between the two. It’s just a very easy board to sail and does a lot of the work for you. Compared with the previous generation Cube, I would say this one has a slightly more slippery, soap dishy feel in the water, in both turning and in a straight line, which gives it an easier going nature. It still has that fantastic top turn that the old model had where it seems to grip around the shoulders of the board (instead of the fins), letting the tail rip around. But you can also now snap it around a bit more on the back foot if the mood takes you. I was pretty impressed with the Cube overall and it would have been my board of choice out of the three. There was a weakness however. Whilst that wide tail has lots of benefits, there is a time when it becomes a hindrance. In overpowered, choppier conditions, you really do notice the tail width and the Cube starts to feel like quite a big board and certainly not as agile as it is with less power in the sail and in smoother conditions. At 84kg’s I used in no problem at all with a 4.5m in smoother waves, but in the choppier stuff, I was starting to feel it big underfoot at the top end of 4.7m sail weather. If you are choosing a new Cube, you may want to lean on the smaller side of your choice range, rather then larger.
The Sphere was a real surprise. I expected it to be a fair step behind these two in riding performance, but it isn’t – at least not until conditions get pretty good. That narrower gunnier outline is a lot of fun actually and even advanced sailors will get quite a lot from this board. It lacks a bit of snap from time to time and on a better wave doesn’t have that same aggressive top turn as the other two, but its smooth, easy and a lot of fun and surprisingly good. It’s a lot more potent on the wave and in the hands of advanced riders than the old Sphere used to be. There is no doubt intermediate riders will still enjoy the smoothness and ease of turning, but there is now a surprising amount still on offer as techniques and ability levels improve.
It’s probably little surprise that Quatro have produce three cracking boards here, but there were a few surprises in how they performed. They are all very different boards. There is no doubt that each has been honed to suit different conditions and abilities, but there is also a question of style. Both the Cube and the Sphere are able to offer decent performance for entry level and intermediate wave sailors. The Sphere is more traditional and will be more familiar in style to those who have come off freeride and freestyle wave gear, whilst the Cube is a top-end all-out quad-fin wave board, reactive and fast underfoot, but also just happens to be relatively easy to sail. And then just when you were thinking the Sphere was new-school, along comes the Pyramid. The Pyramid has been designed to take windsurfing the next step towards real surf-board turning performance. The stance is set back to make the board more reactive and the style you have to ride the board with is fast, explosive, powerful and squirty, with a real back foot bias. It’s a very different riding style to the Cube and is also more biased towards down the line surfing conditions.
The Cube is a solid all-round performer across all conditions, onshore or side-off and offers a great blend of ease of use with real performance. It’s a dynamic board to sail in the right conditions; fast, fun, reactive and flattering of technique. But it does feel bigger than the others in choppier and windier conditions.
The Sphere is far from the ‘freestyle wave board with a wave badge’ that I expected it to be. This is now a potent ripper on the wave face, but still offers that drivey straight-line feel that will be appreciated by those making their early steps into waves or for those who like their airtime.
The Pyramid, just oozes potential. If you sail in the right conditions – front side riding with steep, fast waves – and are willing to dial your technique into the style of the board, I’m pretty sure there isn’t another board on the market that offers so much. But be sure this is your thing, because using this board with the wrong technique or in poorer conditions is like driving a Lambo around town at rush hour…a real waste of all that potential.