Pics: James Jagger
For Windsurfing UK our commitment to covering longboards and associated gear continues with this look at Mistral’s Freebird 350, Albatross 320 and Revival 5.5m rig.
First up you notice that both boards feature a full EVA deckpad for additional comfort. This is both for cruising but also if you’re in the progressing stage of windsurfing when you may be clambering on and off – definitely saves the knees that’s for sure!
The Freebird 350 is slightly longer of the two and echoes more traditional longboard windsurfing shapes you may be familiar with. The Albatross 320 meanwhile is a fatter version, although certainly not a totally stubby shape. Matched with the two boards is Mistral’s Revival 5.5m rig which, unlike other One Design style sails, has three full battens and one stabilising batten in the leach area. Made from soft Dacron/monofilm it’s easy whilst remaining tough and robust.
Being able to switch between both boards during testing meant we were able to pinpoint the main differences between the two boards. Stepping aboard the Freebird 350 first you become acutely aware just how efficient its glide is. Even with a rounder nose than more traditionally shaped longboards Mistral’s Freebird tracks extremely well. And whilst being a tad narrower than its Albatross sibling there’s no issue with stability. For additional upwind performance, particularly in super light wind, simply whack the centre board down and away you go.
Jumping atop the Albatross 320 and its wider shape is obvious from the get go. It’s a very planted feel you experience and would be the better of the two for anyone taking their first tentative windsurfing steps. In fact, Mistral say as much, with the Albatross being aimed more at schools. That said it’s still a fun ride, in light wind or moderate breeze, and can handle chop (just like its Freebird brother) due to the pronounced concave running through the hull.
Both boards are perfectly suited to light wind cruising and even planing. For the former Mistral’s Revival 5.5m rig is light in the hands and easy to use. The additional of batten certainly means it remains composed and should there be enough breeze to get some speed up then it’ accommodate accordingly.
For the most efficient light wind performance, and planing ability, we’d suggest Mistral’s Freebird 320 is the board to choose. It’s ever so slightly more efficient in all conditions yet will require a bit more experience to get the most of. Meanwhile, for anybody learning or in the early progression phase, choosing the Albatross 350 would be a better bet. There’s still plenty of performance to grow into but it’ll suit early stage windsurfing more. Pairing either with Mistral’s Revival 5.5m would be a good shout if maximum fun in light winds is being sought.
Revival 5.5m –
Revival 5.5m –