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Every now and then there is a new board that comes out that truly intrigues me. The D2 combines some old design wisdom and performance with new modern high performance board design.
Let's set the stage though. This board is of interest IF and I underline IF you know how to rail up a board and sail on the windward footstraps, and know how to operate a mast track and centerboard on the fly. If you raced Equipes,Fanatic Mega Cats and Ultracats, Imco One designs, Division 2 boards, and are thirsty for a new twist on that family of boards, well, check out the Exocet D2.
The sails used on this test where the Aerotech Dagger 9.5 and an older Maui Sails MS2 9.5.
First look , the board sports very thick rails, with a perfect shape that fits the curvature of the feet when sailing had upwind on the windward footstraps. This is the most comfortable rail shape I have found on any longboard I have ever sailed. The leeward footstraps stay clear off the water, so keeping drag to a minimum. The centerboard is sunk in the deck with a wide groove that allows feet to find leverage and support when working upwind or downwind.
Compared with an RSX this board is infinitely more enjoyable to sail upwind with centerboard down.
A long centerboard helps it stay on the footstraps even in light winds. The Bow pierces the waves, and the rear is a modern planing design. So the big question, with a low rocker up front, does the wave piercing bow design work? How bad will it spear the waves going downwind?
So I set to find out. Upwind, the board immediately got itself to speed, and it was pretty easy to get it set on the rail and windward footstraps. In 8 knots of wind the board sailed effortlessly upwind railed up, and in 12-13 knots it just flew over the chop, with a small centerboard angle adjustment. The ride was just smooth and oh what a joy to be perched high on the rail, flying over the chop, the board just cutting upwind like a knife. There is an angle that If set too low the board can hobyhorse some and spear the waves, but once you find the proper railing angle, it is just smooth as can be.
The tacks are much slower than on flat bottomed boards so that should add an interesting twist to upwind tactics.
Off the wind, Centerboard goes up, track back (all the way back for my size)with my weight of 72 kilos, the board promptly planes in around 9 knots without pumping. You do have to sail a slightly higher angle than I remember sailing on an equipe, but the speed of the board is just tremendous.
Planing jibe is sort of trying to coax a drunk out of a pub, but if you keep the board fairly flat and use the sail, the job gets done without much fuss.
Comparing to sailing a rounded bottom division 2 board on a plane, well, there is no comparison. The Exocet D2 is stable,easy to sail and fast!
When you feel dropping off a plane, track goes forward with centerboard up, and now comes the anxiously awaited truth.... first few seconds it took a little guessing where to be, but almost right away I fund the sunken area around the centerboard to be a huge plus, you keep your heel tucked inside the groove, and the board behaves very predictably for something as rounded up front as the D2.
Surfing the waves became a surprise as the board raced past the crests, occasionally exploding through their backs, but never slowing down. On a traditional longboard, if you hit the waves from the back, the board simply stops. Not on the D2. It feels it has its own motor. The release on the board is super clean and the board just uses the wave energy to accelerate.
For non planing jibes, I was surprised again that it was a very complying board, it should not take much learning from anyone to master the board.
So for going around a race course with varying winds, I think this board will be a deadly weapon
And once off the race, fun sailing, what a thrill!! I found myself a few miles from my staring point , just cruising away, covering large distances in a short period of of time.
The version I tried is the carbon version, and felt solid and stiff.
As with most performance boards I ever sailed/raced. The centerboard is, as usual, a little fiddly.
In 27 years that I have sailed high performance raceboards, only once or twice have I come across a centerboard system that works as it should. Every one of my boards I have had to change and customize so it would work right. And I believe most serious racers will have done the same. The Exocet D2 has some teething issues with the centerboard operation, and I hope they get solved as the board deserves a well functioning system. However, if you know how to install an adjustable outhaul system on your boom, you will be able to make your centerboard work properly. I hope you don't let this issue deter you from getting one of these boards, the ride is way too much fun.
Resuming, this is a new step in the evolution of high performance board design. The transition of a displacement front to a planing rear really works, and marries the best of two worlds. This board flies upwind in light winds, Flies upwind in planing winds, Flies on a reach planing, or non planing.
I truly believe that this is what an Olympic racing board should be, not the overpriced RSX we have now. If you follow the new 45 foot Americas Cup catamarans and watch the exciting racing going on there, the D2 would provide a racing format that is as close as you can get to that new era of racing.
Stay tuned for a Video upload coming soon
Wow Tinho - great review.
I've just ordered a phantom 377 because I had read the d2 was not very contollable in choppy water in 10knots + (seabreeze forums).
I'm thinking maybe I should reconsider?
Here's my iwindsurf question...
Looking for your opinions...
Currently: 195lbs, intermediate. Great lakes sailor. Jp Super Light Wind 155, kona 11.5, exocet curve 8.5 (going to purchase in spring, 2 x starboard 12'6". Sails: retro 10.0, superfreak 8.0, 6.3, ezzy 5.2, revo 4.6.(have sailed formula and serenity previous)
Thinking about selling the jp super light wind and going for a longboard for 5-15 knots. Needs: early planner, 5-15 knots, good in rough water, good for long distance sailing/various conditions
What do you think?
Joe (from a usually cold canada but today is 80F!)
Well like I said in the review, the pre-requisite is that you are comfortable railing a board, using the windward footstraps while railed up, being able to adjust mast track and centerboard while under sail.
Whoever quoted you on the d2 not being good in those conditions does not have those pre-requisites or he would not have said that.
But the Starboard will also fall in the same category. Both boards will feel like uncooperative dogs if the windward rail is down and you cannot fine tune the sail/centerboard position.
My first 4 day clinics where done on purpose to teach people how to use a performance longboard.
4 out of 10 actually applied what they learned and worked on the skills needed. The rest , well, left the centerboard on the beach, moved the mast track halfway and zipper sailed (reach back an forth) happily ever after.
Some eventually got bored and moved to kiting.....
The reality is, 99% of the equipment I sell to people who could care less about what makes a longboard really work well. The push-button-and-go-fast-now attitude towards sports is so prevalent and contrasts with sailing a performance longboard which takes more skill than that.
I am not judging them, simply stating what happens to people and their choices of equipment. This is the reality of a performance longboard- if you want to enjoy them, be ready to pay the dues and learn how to sail it. It is a CHALLENGE and a very rewarding one!
Thanks again Tinho,
I know you probably haven't sailed or seen a 377 , but for 5-15 knot 'fun' sailing what would you recommend - d2 or 377? (it reads as though the d2 is bit of another revolution in windsurfing akin to wideboards!)
Also - what is the lever at the back of the dagger slot? (white lever 4th picture)
Here is the seabreeze forum discussion fyi...
http://www.seabreeze.com.au/forums/Wind … tom-377BW/
Last edited by joe (2012-03-18 11:25:25)
The white piece is a lever to push the centerboard blade down. In my test board I was less than impressed with that whole contraption and it needs tweaking. Like I said above, very few, if any, race boards ever have a system that works flawlessly. But that is another story altogether. One of the "racers Edge" is his interpretation and modification of a properly working centerboard so you don't waste time in a race screwing with the centerboard.
For "fun", non committal sailing, why not a Kona , or a Windsup, from Exocet, or the smaller 320 Phantom from Starboard if you really want to buy a starboard.
Those boards and much more casual and deliver a lot of fun for the buck.
If you are after a full on race board, then with those two, I shy away from funny wings. Starboard is guilty of changing board models faster than underwear. We will see how long those wings last. But the proof is in the pudding. If Starboard sends me a board to test, I will put in my time and honest evaluation. Performance Longboards deserve some press and testers that actually know how to sail these things.
I am not paid or sponsored by Exocet by the way. I ride on Fanatics. I only wish Fanatic, the brand that made the Equipes sweat and weep ( I was on them) really made the jump and instead of all the millions of wave boards, put some money on stuff that people actually can use daily. Bring back a Mega Cat, Fanatic!!!!
On the video I list above, look how fast and smooth the board is going over the incoming chop between 7 minute and 8 minute mark- I am sailing it upwind in about 12-13 knots of wind and this exact time is 20 minutes from the very first time I ever set foot on this board, and the first time I have set foot on a performance race board in 6 years. It took me no time to get dialed in, and this is a huge props to the board's ease of sailing in fast mode. Many years back it took me a lot longer to get dialed into an Equipe and at that time I was sailing those boards everyday.
I find it funny that now Starboard is showing a 295 Phantom and in their marketing they position that board as a next step from the Bic Techno... What??? Since when? May be in Asia. But the smaller race board to be used at the 2014 Youth Olympic games in China is he Techno 293, not the Phantom.
great review of the exocet, tinho.
Its amazing how sometimes there seems to be a parallel evoution of design concept. A poster on longbaord windsufing stated he was working on the wave piercing concept for a few years. He approached the big manufacterers, no one including exocet seemed interested in the idea.
Excocet then came out with this board ( a bit of controversy on that one )
BUT... it was more then a few years back that the biodiesel powed wavepiercing trimaran "earth race" powered around the world. This design prompted me to wonder "what if"you took a longboard and put a pointy wave piercing nose on it, not a div 2 nose , a wave piercer. Anyone who knows how to rail up a good longbaord knows how you can take off speed wise , and how punching through chop slows you down.
It was to my surprise to see that world wide the idea/ concept was out there, with one example of a homemade boards created in England.
I cant agree more however about starboard and there multiple innovations , many of which died quietly ( hybrids). I had to laugh about the new techo style 295..... are they looking for a lawsuit from BIC!? fortunatley internation copyright is probably a legal mess no one wants to deal with!
I also remember years back there involvement with the Olympic trials. Starboard trialed a two boards , one seemingly as wide as a laser. They then stated that the model they had was going into production....which it did....NOT.
They make good boards dont get me wrong but i would not be too happy to buy a longboard for racing and a year later , have its design inherently changed. Unless they offered me a kit to upgrade my board!!
Jeff, Good insights.
In Defense Of Patrice Belbeoch, I know that at the time the new Olympic boards came up for evaluation (at the end of the Imco and before the RSX was approved) He had submitted at least one proto that looked a lot like this d2. He has been at it for a while, but I dont know of the timing. BUt ideas are only that until someone has the balls to put the money and invest in producing something like the D2. So Kudos to Exocet.
I myself had actually made a model remarkably similar to this board (except for the 3 panel rear, which is 100% unique to Exocet) My model was a glorified wide tailed equipe2 on the back, and a wave piercing front without the reversed bow, mine was plumb. But that was a model and I never actually did anything with this. That was back in 1998. Like I said, lots of people with ideaas but some actually do something about it...And I am sure Exocet did not just make one iteration of that concept.
Thanks Tinho, for the emails (before I could get registered to your forum) regarding the weight of the RS D2. I understand that you did not get a chance to weigh it, before it was returned to the distribitor. But that you felt it was appropritely light enough, considering it's size.
I asked the question, because back in the day, we all paid a premium price to get raceboards that were lighter. Just like we expected to pay less, for boards that were heavier. And although, I haven't followed details of the more modern boards the last few years... I have a seen a few forums over recent years, where owners found their new raceboards (from Starboard or Exocet) were quite a bit heavier than what the brochure stated.
Anyway, thanks again for your detailed report of this board... and the video. Some day, I'll probably need to replace my '94 F2 Lightning World Cup Edition, LOL
Greg, welcome to the forums. I have inquired about the weight and if I get an answer I will post.
Ok got the weight and I was wrong in my estimation...
Weight on that specific board is 45 lbs with all the straps and centerboard and rear gizmo. Without it weighs 40 lbs.
I am surprised as the board feels very light for its size.
I picked up an old purple Fanatic Megacat last June. It's in beautiful condition and is amazingly light. The centerboard works so easily and beautifully. I had an Exocet Pacer 300 for a few years, and fought with that centerboard. It's almost as if things have gotten worse in that respect, rather than better, over time.
Anyway, I just raced it at a local event called the East Coast Windfest here on LI, NY this weekend. I came in 3rd in the 7.5m2 limited class using an Aerotech Dagger 7.5 UDL04. The thing just flies, esp. upwind. I got beat for 2nd place by someone on a Fanatic Ultracat which looks very similar to my board. I think I would have beaten him out for second place had I not fallen twice on one downwind leg in the same race. I was in 2nd place in that race prior to my falling.
So, three questions:
a. any hints for not falling when sailing downwind in very light wind with following chop from motorboat wakes? (I've been windsurfing for around 5 years now and know how to rail the thing upwind in all conditions and can use c/b and mast track well).
b. The guy who won every race was an on old Crit Div. 2 board. Is there anyway that a Megacat could keep up with that if sailed better? (I always have trouble jibing the Megacat in super light winds and chop)
c. How do you think the RS D2 would fare against a real Div. 2 in light winds? I am talking like 5-8 mph.
Thanks for the information, I enjoy reading your tests and they were, in part, why I picked up a Fanatic Ray 130TE last fall that I absolutely love.
Last edited by Dennis778 (2012-06-10 18:33:46)
Great to hear someone is racing longboards somewhere.
a-Well the best thing you can do is take one of my clinics as your problems point to quite a few fundamentals that need to be worked on.
b-The fanatic centerboard and its design was the best of the big three especially the one with twin pivot buttons. It is amazing that no one ever copied that system. There are other issues as well. The foil profile of the centerboard has a lot to do with operation as well. In all cases it is important to grease the gasket with marine silicone or teflon. the gasket operation must be flawless for top placement in a race.
c-The Crit D2 was a deadly weapon in the right hands, but I am confident that the Exocet would hold its own if the centerboard and its operation where modified. The D2 Crit had a huge centerboard. and who know what the guy had on the board. some of the crit centerboards where terrible, but most knowledgeable guys put custom centerboards on their open class boards. Many people simply look at a brand or X board and just because it wins, does not mean it is the best one. If it wins in many races consistently, with different sailors, then yes it is the best board. The older Ultra cat would not be competitive with the Crit D2 or the exocet in the real light winds. but in 15 knots mos likely it would buzz past the Crit, but not the exocet d2. And this again, assuming the Exocet owner had fixed the centerboard gremlins.
Keep in mind that every board will have its strong and weak points, so capitalize on the strong points of your board whenever the conditions favor it.
thanks for your time. The guy who won always wins these races. He is a really great and experienced sailor. He just picked up the Crit last Wednesday, and sailed it for the first time on Saturday morning. Pretty impressive.
the only times that I beat him were last September when he was sailing his old ultracat and I was on my Megacat. this was at an ABK race clinic which was in dead flat water which really helps me. The c/b on the megacat is giant and works extremely well as a foil. I received a tip from a Techno racer about using olive oil to lubricate the c/b gasket. I did this on the Pacer and it worked great, I did it on the megacat Saturday morning and now it works so well that I can control the c/b with my mind!!
The crit guy reminded me, after racing of course, what andy had taught us about standing in the middle of the board, feet splayed out, and knees bent when sailing downwind in chop and motorboat wake. That is something I need to remember and practice.
I am going to try and come down to your place next year for Christmas vacation and I can bring my stuff and you can help me out some more. This past February I spent a week at the Banana River Resort and sailed a Kona One all week. That was okay, but no one to sail against or to learn from. At least there was good wind most of the time.
Last edited by Dennis778 (2012-06-11 10:50:11)