Monday, January 10, 2011

2011 Fanatic Skate first impressions

Yesterday looked to be a nice windy day and almost above freezing. So with my brand new set of Fanatic Skates I headed to the Training Grounds with George and Joe. Chris showed up later on after my run in with the crazy bible lady, ( another story in itself). As I pulled up, George was finishing up rigging his 5.3 which looked to be the call. The wind was a little too far west to get a clean fetch, so a bigger sail would hopefully get us through the lulls.

George was on and off a plane so I rigged up my 5.3 as well on my 100 ltr Skate. Right off the beach I could tell that this board was going to be one of the greats. After a few runs I was really getting it dialed in. It planes very early. It pops very well, at least as good as the rodeo. The thing that I liked most about it is that it was so settled when sailing along in a straight line. Not bouncy or weird to control. Just ready to pull off the next trick whenever I was. The last board to really pull off the ease of sailing like this was the 2009 Mistral Joker which George happened to be sailing right next to me. We swapped for comparison and George said the same thing. It's a lot like the Joker but more stable.

For carving, the 100 ltr skate was really well mannered and would make the short, sharp turns into a shaka really well without a hint of sliding out. I even made a few regular old jibes on it, and I have to say it's holds the rail really well, and planing out of a jibe has never been easier.

For the sliding tricks, you won't find a better board. The first flaka I tried actually bounced me in the air around the second part of the 360 landing fully planing. So needless to say, a true double flaka is a piece of cake with Skate if you can already get the board in the air after the first one. Sliding a spock doesn't get any easier. It likes coming into a spock with the toeside rail landing first. Some boards like being landed flatter to spin, like the rodeo. Anyway, it spins so freaking easy I kept ending up with a 540 instead of a 360 without trying. I made a few grubbies I would have crashed on any other board with. So the 2011 skate is hands down the easiest sliding board I've tried and very, very forgiving if you mess up a little.

In the air, it was very controllable for the shakas and ponches I tried. Not quite as fast through a ponch rotation as the rodeo, but definitely better than the JP of equal size. Even on the sketchy landings from under rotated shakas, the board slid into the 360, where the Rodeo never would have and JP would have just stopped dead.

I would highly recommend the Skate. There just doesn't seem to be any weakness to the board. Other boards seem to be very strong at certain tricks, while not so hot with others. The 2011 Skate seems to do it all, and do it better. Anyone thinking about a freestyle board would be very happy with the Skate and I'm sure it will impress you more than expected. It definitely gave me more than I thought it would. There are areas where other boards might barely beat out the skate, but as a whole, the Skate is the best all around. I'll have side by side comparisons with the skate, Rodeo, JP, and 2009 Mistral Joker as soon as I have a chance to sail the skate in different types of conditions.

I'd like to end with a great quote form a very wise individual that showed me the light (skate)

"Any day of sailing is a GREAT day of sailing." - Andy Brandt

I'd like to add any great day of sailing is even better with a 2011 Fanatic skate.

Happy Sailing.



  1. Nice review, Mike. My wife and I also got Skates based on Andy's recommendation, and a short run on his Skate. We just love the boards. One great thing about the Skate is that it a wonderful transition board for anyone who thinks about getting into sliding tricks, but may not be quite ready yet. As you mentioned, it goes straight well, and also carves well, which makes it great for freeriding and old-school freestyle. When not (yet) doing new school stuff, put a bigger fin in that you can push on, and it goes faster than other freestyle board. Just a great freestyle and freeride board.


  2. Hi mike, i've been sailing with a full quiver Of ezzy's wave panthers 2 and now i'm doubtful about changing them into the new north' ice HD. Have you tried'em? How about the quality and durability? The construction? Aré more or less technical to use than the wave panthers?
    Can i replace the wave panthers 6.3, 5.2 and 4.2 for the same sizes? Or i need a 4.7?
    Thanks from argentina!

  3. Hi Nico,

    Yes, I've sailed both the wave panther and the Ice HD. The Ice is still a VERY easy sail to use. It's fast, has good power and incredible handling. The HD construction is amazing! So far I've tried an Ice HD in a 5.3 and I own a HD 3.7. The difference in performance between the HD and regular version is very minimal. It's a bit heavier feeling during transitions, but no where in the ball park as heavy feeling as any Ezzy. In a straight line and doing bump and jump, you'd be pressed to see a difference between in performance between the constructions.

    You'll be VERY happy with an Ice HD especially coming off of a really heavy feeling, non-reactive sail. Also, since there is no monofilm i the HDs, there's a full 5 year warranty on the entire sail!

    I've had offers from other sail companies to receive free sails, but I'd still rather pay for my Norths than sacrifice the performance.

    The Norths have a great range to them. With the larger sail, I would recommend the duke to get the most on the low end. I do 5.9, 5.3, 4.7 4.2, 3.7 only because for freestyle it helps lot to always have just that perfect amount of power. For every day sailing, skipping from a 6.4 to a 5.3 wouldn't be an issue. If you're thinking about only 3 sails, maybe do, 5.9 Duke, 5.0 Ice and 4.2 Ice. That should cover you in just about anything. If you're happy with the 6.3, 5.2 and 4.2 Ezzy's the 3 Ice sails will be jut fine as well.

    Let me know if you have any other questions.

    All the best,


  4. Mike,
    Thank you very much for the information, it was very useful.
    Today I've brought a 84 liters goya quad, and order 4 north ices hd, 6.2, 5.3, 4.7 and 4.2; ha! it's been a hard shopping day!
    I really hope the Ice's are as great as everyone are quotying.
    Thank you again !!
    As we use to say in our windsurf club "Viví windsurf y buenos vientos!" (it's something like "live windsurf, and good winds")

  5. Nice Nico! Hard shopping day indeed! You'll be VERY stoked with the Ices. And with those 4 sails, you'll always be able to pick the perfect size. Let me know how you like the 6.2 Ice. My larger sails are Dukes, so I'm curious to see how you like that 6.2.

    happy sailing,


  6. The Ices. Good name for our conditions lately!

  7. Put them together and you get thm IceSkate which is really the only water activity possible right now.

  8. With this 2011 in the mix.. any chance there's a gently used 2010 Skate up for grabs?

  9. Sorry Jay,

    I just switched from an F2/JP mix. The Rodeo was sold a long time ago, but I still have the 89 ltr JP Freestyle Pro that is lightly used. I had the board for about 7 months of use. My 100 ltr is always my go-to board, so the JP probably only has about 25 days or so on it.

    For the 2011 Skate, check out Hampton Watersports or Ocean Air Sports. It's one of those boards that's worth buying new whatever the cost. I'm not sure about the supply of Skates this year, but getting freestyle boards, especially when they're in demand are hard to even get new most of the time. The last board that was this nice (the 2009 Mistral Joker) sold out in November 2008. Don't plan on just waiting around and being able to get one. Grab one while they're able to be gotten!


  10. Sweet, thanks for the tips Mike.

    I'll hunt around. I guess now that I'm no longer a student I can step it up and buy a board from somewhere other than a consignment shop :P

    P.s. Was that you n' your dad at Pleasure Bay sunday? I think I recognize the face & windsurf trailer but I can't be sure. I also didn't see any no-handed flakas being attempted.

  11. hey Jay. No wasn't me. You gotta come out to Hekcscher this summer for a freestyle show. Chachi is back from 2 years training in the Gorge and the Delta and he's gotten really, really good too. There are also a few more guys doing spocks and loops too. It's really fun having so many freestyle sailors in one spot.

  12. HI Mike

    I just got a 109 Skate TE. I am not a freestyler, but will be using the board as a light wind early planer for ocean and flatwater sailing. I am 92kg and will be using NP Firefly 6.5 and Atlas 5.8 on the board. Considering you use Makani fins, what would you recommend I use in the board when freeride blasting with 65 and 58, and also for ocean sailing when waves are a small but still fun to carve around on. Cheers, AE

  13. Hey AE,

    Congrats on the new Skate! The Makani fins are working really, really well for me. I've been sailing the Koi freestyle fin and it's been off the charts! I can't say enough good things about it! The guys around here have been raving over the different types of weed fins from Makani too. I haven't sailed the freeride fins yet, but the ONO looks like it will be right down your alley. It's a G-10 freestyle/wave fin.

    As for size, either the 28 or the 30cm depending on what sized fin you're used to riding. My instincts would say go with the 28cm. The skate likes smaller fins, and if you have it in the waves, something a little smaller will make it a bit looser. Putting on the 30 cm will make it more of a straight line blaster. Or have the best of both worlds and order both sizes! If you were a little lighter, the choice of the 28 would be a no brainer, I'm just thinking that maybe you would like the 30 because you're a bigger guy and since I haven't sailed the fin, I'm not sure how easily it flexes off.

    Happy sailing,


  14. hey mike,
    i am also into buying north sails from 2011.
    i am just not sure how to set up sail size range and constantly change my mind.
    i am 93-95kg.
    1) duke 5.9, ice 5.0, ice 4.2
    2) duke 6.4, ice 5.3, ice 4.5
    3) ice 5.7, 5.0, 4.2 (same masts possible)
    4) comb.3 + duke 6.4
    what would you recommend? i am open for new combinations too.
    thanks and br, aa

  15. Hey, the 4 sail quiver is always a better choice than the 3 sail if you have the budget. 3 sails will cover the entire range, but having that 4th sail has you re-rigging less because you can really get into the given wind range better when you rig. For example, if you can't decide whether to rig 5.0 or 5.9, you know the 5.3 would be perfect. Or if it's blowing a perfect 5.0, but you know it'll be increasing as the day goes on, you rig the 4.7, if the forecast is for it to back off a bit, you rig the 5.3. With the 4th sail you'll also be using each sail more often in it's sweat spot of that perfect amount of power. That said, you're not going to miss any water time with only 3 sails.

    Now the decision is which sails to pick. It would help me to know which board or boards you were planning on using the sails on. I go 5.9 Duke, 5.3 Ice, 4.7 Ice, 4.2 Ice, but I weigh a little less than you at about 77 kg. I'm also using a skate 100 and 90 ltr. If you're using the 109, I would recommend going slightly bigger on the sails than if you were using the 100. So anyway, let me know what board you're using and I'll let you know your best option.


  16. hey mike, thanks for taking the time to answer.
    i have a skate 110 (2010) plus maybe a freewave 95.
    i also have falcon 134 and ram f11 9.0 for lighter wind.

  17. No problem. I could talk gear all day long. For you're weight, and given the 110 holds a larger sail nicely, I would tend to go 6.4 Duke as your larger sail which should be a nice compliment for your 9.0. Then you'll get to use the skate that much sooner :-) Then 5.4 Duke and 5.0 and 4.5 Ices. That should get you out everything from 14 to 30 knots.

    So 6.4, 5.4, 5.0 4.5 would be my best guess for your weight and board range. Really, you're going to be happy with whatever setup you end up going with from North as long as you stay away form those Egos. Everyone loves the Ices and larger Dukes, but it's a toss up with the Ego. Most people I talk to have negative feedback with that sail.

    Also, when you start getting overpowered, remember about switching to the lower grommet. It takes a good amount of power out of the sail and is definitely worth the trip into the beach to change settings.

    I'm switching things up in the sail dept. for 2012. I'm getting a mix of IDs and Ices. The ID is supposed to be a Duke in the big sizes and Ice in the smaller sizes, only lighter in weight than the other sails. (but less durable). We'll see how things turn out with the new motors.

  18. thank you for your opinion.
    i am only considering ice and duke.
    the low budget set up would be ice 5.7 5.0 4.2 as i can use one mast for all sails.
    but i was thinking that i will probably once a year use a 4.2 with my weight. so maybe as you also suggest a 4.5 as the smallest sail this is a good decision.
    when it is 14 knots i might still use my big gear. but at 16 i definitely want to jump on the skate. then a duke 5.9 would be sufficient i guess. so duke 5.9 and ice 5.0 & 4.5.
    or i just try ice 5.7 5.0 4.5 and if its too small i add a duke 6.4.
    your combination sounds pretty good too.
    i know there are endless combinations and i have to decide on my own. but i am getting closer haha.
    thank you mike anyway.

  19. 5.7, 5.0, 4.5 will work great for you and with 1 mast, it's great. Just double check if you'll need the mast extender for the 5.7 Ice. I know I use 34 cm of extension on the 5.3 with a 400 cm mast, the 5.7 would need 38 cms.

    If you decide to add an extra sail, after the fact, you might as well make it a 6.9 Duke. On the 100 ltr there are very few days that I would be able to plane on the 6.9 Duke that I couldn't plane on the 5.9 Duke.

  20. Hi Mike,

    This is jf. Posted a few weeks back. Have a quick question if you have the time. Been trying to find a used 100 skate. really hard to find which tells me people like them; plus the chat on them is usually really good.

    i have a 2007 102L (syncro) that i wanted to replace with a 100 skate. Given that these are hard to find, i am now looking at a 110 skate (found a few used ones - OA for example). At my weight, 80-83Kg, do you think this 110 is too big. I was thinking of keeping the 102 if I get a 110 (just so that I have something a bit smaller when the 110 is too much). I also have an 86L syncro that I like a lot. My sails with the 110 would probably be 5.5 to 6.2. My goal is to learn vulcans and move from there.

    Another option right now is also a used 2010 jp 98 freestyle or a 2009 jp 108. Your review of the 98 was not that great, however. Is the 108 any good?



  21. Hey JF, Out of the boards you listed, I would go for the 110 Skate. The 2009 JP is HUGE feeling, but does plane super early. It's a bit sticky lacking some top end, but it will get you onto a plane in a fart. I really couldn't recommend the 2010 98 ltr JP to anyone. There are so many better boards out there. It's been a while since I sailed the 110 skate, but I remember using it with a 5.3 in Bonaire last year and I though it was pretty good. Just like the 100, but with more float. It definitely didn't carve as well as the 100, but that's usually what happens when you go up in board size. I was able to get my hands on a 2012 skate 109 last week that I used with a 5.4 and the sizing felt fine. I wouldn't go any smaller though on the 110/109 than that. with the 6.2 will be the perfect size for the 110 skate.

    There was a guy from the U.S. in Bonaire that just picked up a 110 ltr skate to replace his beloved F2 Chilli. After his first day he saw me walking past on the beach and said, "hey Mike, that things a game changer!." I had to laugh because that's the same reaction I get from everyone I recommend that board to.

    Anyway, in your list, go the skate 110 first, then the JP 109, then as a last resort, try out the JP 98. And hang onto the Syncro for at least a little while until you figure out whether you still need it.

    All the best,


  22. Thanks a lot for this feedback Mike. Poping the 110 skate for vulcans is ok given the size?

  23. I had no issues popping the 110. It takes a little more effort than the 100, but you can get it higher in less wind and then you'll have more time to bobble around at the end before you sink. Where the 100 will be much easier is for doing shakes and other moves that need a really, really tight carve. For vulcans, flakas, spocks, and most of the switch stance stuff the 110 will be fine.