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.