The Converse is billed as a dedicated surfboard with the option for using it with a kite. Airush introduced the first true convertible in 2006, a revelation in versatility which they believe changed the way many riders view wave riding; smaller kites, bigger boards, strapped, strapless and with dedicated surf performance for zero wind situations. The 2008 Converse continues to redefine wave riding. The higher volume translates into an ability to run a smaller kite, allowing you to ride more vertically and with more snap than imaginable a few years ago. The kite specific construction offers significantly reinforced areas around the foot strap, top deck and fin areas to deal with the increased speed and abuse when kiting, without hindering the surf ability. Included in the line for this year is a 5'6 kite-specific model for lightweight riders and dedicated high wind wave riding.
TEST TEAM NOTES:
CHRIS: Nice and light with a classic shortboard shape. Looks the business from the start in clean white and has good width. You can tell a surfer shaped this board. The rocker is sweet and it’s a great size with a nice pulled in tail. Foot pads and straps are no-nonsense, comfortable and are what you want on a surfboard, they're just not that flash looking. Upwind performance is OK but I found it a little bit bouncy in these cross-on and quite lumpy conditions.
NEAL: Feels very strong in your hands when you pick it up. Should be able to take the knocks. Basic FCS fins, but the fact it's got the FCS fin system really impresses me because this means you can choose your own spares from an enormous range, virtually wherever you travel in the world. Surfboard style tail pad and removable front pad and strap show that this kiteboard is really aimed at being a one-board traveller as you can surf it as well. I would like the option of leaving the pad on to protect the deck from your heels when kiting it strapless.
CHRIS: Riding the board off the wave is easy. It goes upwind well, is very easy to gybe and feels smooth. It's not the happiest in the chop, but it more than makes up for this when you're on the wave. Really fast bottom turn with good drive and predictable grip that carries you up the face. Top turns are really rewarding and I couldn't stop smiling as this board carved and snapped its way along the wave with a predictable rhythm.
NEAL: On the water it surprised me, feeling instantly lively and responsive underfoot. It is a little boring in chop going upwind, but that's not a design issue on this kind of board. This really is shaped for surfing. On the wave it’s very easy to ride, responding well to tightening or widening turns but with enough rail length to carry your speed or really bury a cutback. Riding with minimal movement of the kite is easy too and allows the kiteboard to ride slower, like the surfboard it is.
CHRIS: It feels just like a surfboard should; its top turn is so much fun and the board always put me back on the face for another section. Highly recommended to anyone of any level wanting to ride a surfboard. Spot on.
Whether you're wanting to get your first surfboard or have been riding a while, this is highly recommended by the test team. Not as comfortable in lumpy cross-onshore conditions as it is in more classic down-the-line conditions, but it still has great performance characteristics. Simple to gybe and ride for first-time surfboard riders, but to get the most out of this, a little surfing or riding experience will really let you appreciate just how nice this shape is. A one-board travelling solution.
5' 6 x 18"
6' 0 x 18 ¼"
6' 4 x 18 ¾"
wood 6' 0 x 18 ¼"
wood 6' 4 x 18 ¾"
This test is in issue #33