Wednesday, December 14, 2011

2012 Skate & New Northsails ID

For those of you with A.D.D. or if you simply get bored of reading really fast, skip ahead to a quick clip I threw together today. It has a few shots of just the 99 ltr board and 5.0 ID sail. If you care about my impressions of the 2012 goodies, keep reading and watch the video at the end.

I was anticipating the new gear arrival for a long time now. And my excitement was at a level higher than I can remember in recent years to get my hands on the new gear. Why was the excitement about this years gear more than years past? Well, for one, the Skate, my favorite board of all time has changed in design for 2012. My anticipation for the new skate was mainly based around the fact that it didn't need it to get any better. I was just hoping that they didn't screw it up. But it wasn't just Fanatic that was throwing a new product into the lineup. Northsails also came out with a pair of new wave sails. They still have the Ice, and Duke. Now they have also introduced the Hero and ID for 2012. The Hero being a 4 batten wave sail and the ID being a very lightweight combination of the Ices and Dukes. A lighter version of my favorite sails, I think I'll take that one!!

So Now I've had a few sessions on the new boards and sails and have a good idea of the new gears capabilities. So lets start off with the boards. I know people are in love with their 2011 skates and everyone was just hoping that Fanatic didn't screw up a good thing. The First thing you'll notice about the new skate are the specs. The 99 ltr lost 1 ltr from last year but still has the same width as last year at 63.5. It is significantly shorter than the 2012 model at 228cm. It seems like the nose is also beefed up a bit from last year.

So how do these changes affect the performance of the 99 ltr. They don't!!! At least for your average Joe that buys the board for it's incredible freeride performance. It planes up at least as early as last year, has every bit of speed that last years board had and carves the same perfect jibe that the 2011 model did. So then what did these changes in the 2012 model do? Well, If you're like me and want to go crazy spending as much time spinning, sliding and flipping as possible, you'll be very happy on all 3 accounts. For moves like an Air Funnel, or Ponch it's absolutely amazing. The shorter length lets you rotate freely without the longer nose grabbing the water and stopping the rotation. With the beefed up nose, it also has less of a tendency to bury the nose at the end of a sliding trick, and spinning all the way through double and triple flakas has never been easier. Basically, if the Rodeo and Skate from 2011 had a baby, the 2012 Skate would be it. No matter what you want to do on this board, it will be more than capable.

I also have the 89 ltr model which in my oppinion has improved significantly over last years 90 ltr. The 90 ltr last year was a bit more dedicated to freestlye than the 2011 100 ltr. The 90 ltr didn't carve as well as I would have thought for it's size, but the new 89 ltr, put some turn back in the board. I couldn't get over how much fun I had playing with the 89 ltr and 4.5 in the shoulder high side-on waves at West Meadow. Then when it came time for a trick, it had every bit of speed, pop and control that I loved about the 90 ltr last year. Now the 89 ltr is also a board for everyone just like the 2011 100 ltr and its 2012 99 ltr brother.

For the sails, I have some Ices, Dukes and my new favorite ID. I haven't had much of a chance to try the Ices and Dukes, but the ID is absolutely amazing! I have the ID in 4.5, 5.0 and 5.4 sizes. The first thing you'll notice as soon as you pick up the sail is that it's light. Really light!!! The ID weighs the same as a 1.5 meter smaller Ice. So the 5.4 ID weighs the same as a 4.0 Ice!! And the weight savings isn't everything. The maneuverability and range of this sail is just incredible. I was switching back and forth between my 4.5 ID and 4.0 Ice one day, and the ID felt even more locked down than the Ice when it got overpowered. The draft just does not move around on the ID. There is still more than enough low end power there for anyone. Possibly even more than last year's Ice/Dukes. So if you're in the market for a new sail, and you want something easier to maneuver and super comfortable to sail, the ID is the way to go.

So how did the ID get so light? Well, mostly due to the new hi-tech material "ODL". There is still some x-ply on the ID in the areas that are "crash prone" like at the foot of the sail, but the ODL is used on most of the areas where the x=ply would be on the Ice. I did a little research on what exactly ODL is. Basically it's a laminate material, like x-ply, but using lighter weight materials. Technora seems to be the main ingredient. North has also added (or taken away) a few little weight savers compared to the Ice. The seems on the ID are single stitched, where on the Ice and Duke there is a double stitch. There is still protection on the backside of the batten tensioners to protect against wear while rigging, but instead of the usual full plastic backing, there is only a small strip of plastic. It still looks like it should do the job. They also dropped the double clew grommet from the ID. Honestly this thing has so much range, that I'm not sure you'd really need it. Other than that, the ID is pretty similar to the Ice. Really great handling, lots of range and just plain fun to sail only in a significantly lighter package.

Also, if you're into freestyle the ID does the duck moves unlike anything I've sailed. You just duck and put the sail where you want it. I made more Air Funnels and Bobs in my first session on the 5.0 ID and 99 ltr skate than the past 2 months of sailing combined! For freestyle, there is no comparison and you shouldn't even think twice about the ID. For everyone else, will you like the ID better than the Ice or Duke? Of course. But will it be worth the $100.00 premium over the Ice? That's up to you. For me it sure is.

I had a little downtime this morning, so I decided to make a quick little video with some of the details of the Skate and ID. I know I repeated a few shots, but when I was trying to find out more about the boards and sails, those were the things that I wanted to see the most. Enjoy


  1. Hi Mike,
    thanks for the nice impressions of the Skate 99 and the new ID.
    I am about to buy a Skate 100 TE from 2011 and two new Sails 6.4 and 5.9.
    My favorites are ID 5.9 and ID 6.4 or Duke 6.4.
    The 6.4 is for really light wind and therefore I am not sure which sail plans earlier Duke 6.4 or ID 6.4?
    Could you please give me a tip?

    Thanks in advance

  2. Hey Christian,

    I haven't personally sailed the 6.4 ID yet, so it's hard to say what the difference in power, if any, between the Duke and the ID would be. As per the North website, the Duke will have the same power as a .1 meter large ID. For me a .1 meter difference in sail size is pretty negligible. So I think the major deciding factor is whether you want to spend the extra $$ on an ID over a Duke. In the larger sizes, personally, that's where I would want the weight savings the most, so I would go for a large ID.

    Right now I have a 4.0 Ice and 4.5 ID and the 4.5 ID is even lighter feeling than the 4.0 Ice even though I use a larger mast on the 4.5 ID. They're both incredible sails, but I'm in love with the IDs. I would say ID's all the way around if you can fork over the $$.

    You're going to love that skate also. Both the 2011 model and the 2012 are just amazing rides. You'll be loving life on the skate.

    Let me know if you have any other questions.


  3. Hi Mike,
    the Skate 100 TE was sold out, so I decided to buy the 2012 Skate 99 TE on saturday.
    The next day I had the chance to have a very short ride on the new board. Although the conditions were quite ugly (cold, rain, gusty) the board seems to be nice. Very early planning and a nice feeling standing on such a short board.

    I have another question:
    Isn't the gap between ID 6.4 and ID 5.4 too big? Do I really need 5.9? What do you prefer? My weight is 72 kg.

    Greetings from cold and windy Germany

  4. Hey Christian,

    Congrats on the new ride! It's more of a preference with your choice of your largest sail size. You'll have no issues going from a 6.4 ID to 5.4 ID. However the 5.9 will be easier to throw around for freestyle tricks over the 6.4. In the past, (before there was an ID) I used to use a 5.3 Ice and 5.9 Duke. That was a good gap because the Duke has more power than the Ice so even though the number was only a .6 meter gap, the power difference was pretty good and it was a nice jump.

    However, the 5.4 and up IDs were designed after the Duke. I know guys that swore up and down that the 5.4 Duke and the 5.9 Duke had nearly the exact same power range. Right now I have a 5.4 ID and 5.9 Duke, but I have yet to sail the 5.9 Duke so I can't really comment on how close the gap is between the 5.4 and 5.9. I don't think it's going to be a stretch going right to the 6.4 and extending your low end power a hair. Get the 6.4 and extend your low end range.

    I weigh between 72 and 77 KG depending on how much I ate during the holidays. Right now I'm at 76 kg

    Greetings form cold and not so windy New York


  5. Hi Mike,

    Thanks for the great review on the boards and sails. I'm currently in the market for a freestyle board and I'm heavily leaning toward the Fanatic Skate 2012 model. My current board is a RRD freestyle-wave 95 ltr and my current sails are a 4.5 tushingham storm, and a 5.4 and 6.4 north duke. My dilemma is deciding between the 89 and 99 ltr boards, from your review both appear to be great. Any advice on selecting between the two?



    PS. I weigh around 72 kg.

  6. Hey Loannis,

    Definitely the 99 ltr. They both are great boards, but the 89 ltr favors 5.0 and down sails for freestyle. The 6.4 will never work on the 89 ltr. 4.5 is great on the 99 ltr and it will also work up to the 6.4 just fine. You're going to love it!!!



  7. Hi Mike,

    I weigh 87-90kg (no gear) and want to get into freestyle. I have decided on the fanatic skate and already have possibilities lined up for the 2011 100 or 110 L (TE or normal), 2012 99 TE or 109 normal. Can you comment on the best solution from your experience regarding my weight and for best learning curve? The preferred wind I plan on practicing in is 20 knots and stronger, with currently available sails sizes of 6,4 duke, 5,3 duke and 4,5 tushingham storm (thinking of upgrading to 4,7/4,2 North or other quiver in 2013). My other board is an 86L fanatic freewave for higher wind freestyle/wave and I am very pleased with it so far for onshore wave conditions and freeride+planing capabilities.

    Thanks in advance.

  8. Hi Steve,

    For 20 knots and more, I think the 2012 99 ltr would be perfect! At your weight, when the wind is a solid 20 knots, the 5.3 should be fine. I've got buddy that is a little over 90 kilos and has a 99 ltr as his big board and uses 5.6 idol for his large sail and gets going in about 15-16 knots. 20 knots, he's on 5.0 idol right along with me. However, if you are using the 6.4 a lot, the 109 would suit that sail better. But then that's going to be a really big jump to the 86 ltr. If I were in your shoes, I would go with the 99 ltr TE board even if you had to spend a couple extra bucks on it. If you're serious about getting into freestyle you'll be happier in the long run.

    If you can get a TE, it's really a much better board. It planes earlier and reacts quicker during transitions.

    For 2013 sails, I've been really, really impressed with the idol. So far i've got to try the 4.0, 4.5 and 5.0 idols. For both wind range and speed they were more impressive than I thought they would be. I didn't like the hero at all for 2012. then when I tried the ID I thought it was the best sail I've ever tried!!! And that's including the likes of the Pure, Mauisails, and Pryde. now the Idol is even better!!! I'll have a review on the idol when i get a chance to test the 5.6. The first couple time out I sailed the 4.5 and 4.0 and the range on those sized idols are insane!!! I could be on a 4.0 or a 4.5 and feel equally comfortable on either sail. But when I tried the 5.0 the other day, as awesome as it was, it felt like the usable range for freestyle was less than the 4.0 and 4.5. But it was still as usable as the ID as far as wind range. But I'm curious as to how well the 5.6 will hold up since the 5.0 lost a little range compared to the smaller sails. I'm thinking those 4 battens in an even larger sail will mean a smaller wind range compared to the ID. But you never know. The 5.6 demands a 430 mast which will stiffen things up, and it also looks like it's cut with a narrower head relative to the smaller sizes. Anyway, so far the idols are unbeatable 5.0 and down. Just have to check the larger sizes to see if they hold up as well as the smaller sizes before I can do an official review. If I had to buy sails again without trying bigger sizes, I would go idol all they way!!!!!! They're really, really good sails for freestyle and waves.

    1. Mike, you are awesome...thanks for the experienced insight. I'll go with the 5.3/99 TE combination as the 5.3 will be my go-to size regarding freestyle. Very interesting about the idol, never thought of it but it might be the ticket if it also works well in waves compared to ices (which I was thinking about) for where I sail in mostly on-shore conditions (waves up to 2 m). How is the bottom end of the idol compared to ice in comparable sizes (under 5.0)?

      Best regards,


  9. My pleasure!!

    The idol BLOWS AWAY the ice in the bottom end!!! Not even close. But, it doesn't have the top end of the ice as the sail sizes go up. So the 4.0 and 4.5 have tons of grunt along with a really good top end comparable with the ice. The 5.0 has tons more on the bottom end than the ice, but starts to loose some top end compared to the smaller sized idols. Which evens it's range out with a 5.0 ice. The 5.6 idol I have yet to try. I have the feeling it will have tons of power but giving up some range on the top.

    For onshore waves, I think the idol might be a better choice performance wise. I know if in onshore conditions to connect bottom and top turns, I helps to stay powered clew first heading back up the wave to make the top turn. The idol holds more power in the sail the entire time you're sailing so it should make connecting turns even easier. For freestyle the idol is insane!!! There's a huge margin of error compared to the ice. Also, the boom on the idol is shorter compared to the ice, which I like for both waves and freestyle.

    So far, 3 of us here in NY have idols. We all prefer them to the ice. And the ice is a hard sail to beat!!!!

    Keep in mind the idol is all monofilm except for the foot where we crash on all the freestyle tricks and in the luff. All panels are monofilm. I'm not so concerned about the full monofilm since the larger panels in the ice were monofilm and nothing ever happened to those in the waves on me. The larger the panel, the more of a load it would have to take. The higher up you go, the smaller the panels, the less the need for x-ply.