Air 55 prototype review by David Arnaud
Since there's currently not enough water for the hawaii/rhone wave, I could only test this proto at my homespot 50 km south of Lyon, an artificial course called Saint Pierre de Boeuf. There's a hole there that would be very nice if it weren't that shallow.
For the test to be complete, I must precise that I'm far from being a pocketboat fan. My main reproach to these boats is that they are slow, and I just can't imagine myself being that slow on the water ! And really, I don't mind being able or not to flatwaterloop...
So yes, during last season's competitions, I didn't score as high as I would have in a short boat. But on the other hand I haven't been, and will never accept to be, one of those watching the action from the bank at Hawaii / Rhone because of a slow boat ! (yes, I've seen fools in this case this year). Just a question of priority...
That was until last May. Then I saw Corran testing an early prototype of the Air at hawaii sur rhone. Since that moment, I've had no doubt that this boat was going to be a killer on a wave ! Finally that was the proof that a kayak could be short AND fast !
That said, here's the review itself :
The prototype tested here is close from what the production version will be. At 75 kg (approximatively 165 lbs), I found the Air 55 very comfy and still easy to flatwheel. I only found the back stern a little bit big in some situations. Of course I'll give the 45 version a try anyway, but I feel very good in the 55. There's a lot of footroom, even more than in the tekno.
This proto feels very different from the previous versions. It is still edgy, but much easier to paddle and more forgiving, so that every paddler can handle it with ease. Fortunately it seems that its performances weren't affected by the changes. It has more rocker on both ends too, but as it doesn't interfere too much with the hole abilities, I can't say a lot about it yet.
As I already said, I've only tested this proto on small holes so far. What impressed me most regarding holeriding was the boat's stability on ends. After only a few rides, I could link endless series of cartwheels and splits with almost as much control as I had with longer boats. I could initiate ends in about every position very easily. I think a sub-6 or a G-force might be slightly faster than the Air 55 at linking ends. On the other hand, the Air allows much more control and fluidity. You'll prefer it or not according to your personal style. I do.
The volume around the cockpit makes the boat very comfortable and retentive. In this shallow hole, I could perform nice airloops very easily, and I'm sure there's a potential for much more air in a deeper hole ! The design of the deck makes the boat pop out of the water in a very stable way as well. That is an excellent point if you're learning those moves.
All in all, I was very impressed with the holeriding abilities of this boat. I've had very fluid rides that I didn't expect with such a short toy. This proto is very promising. For holeriding, the Air equals the best boats on the market but brings more control. Intermediates should like it for that.
I'm now impatiently waiting for the next surf sessions on the hawaii/rhone wave, to really explore this boat's potential. Then I'll update this review.
For more info on the Air 55 : http://www.2imagine.net/blogger2002/air55.html
Video clip :
quality quickime 3.4 Mo
> med quality quicktime 5.9 Mo