Note: this write up was originally published as two separate tests in Windsurfing UK’s Easter 2018 issue. To keep things (fairly) current, however, we’re posting this as a combined review.
Non-point of view pics: James Jagger
AHD SL2 132L x 79.6cm OSS slalom windsurf/windfoil board review
Coming in double carbon construction AHD’s SL2 132L slalom board initially landed with us to be partnered with the AFS-2 hydro foil (reviewed elsewhere). With it being a slalom board though we had to have a stab at that first.
As a collaboration between the designer responsible for so many AHD boards, Pascal Gerber, and World Cup sailor Diony Guadagnino, the SL2 was always going to be quick. Aesthetics, however, aren’t an afterthought either, with graphics and the shape easy on the eye. It’s also a robust board that we can attest to having spent considerable time on a harsh shingle beach with it.
Paired with a 45cm carbon race fin it was off to a flying start. To really milk low wind speeds a 52cm could be used though. The SL2’s forward rails are soft and forgiving. Combined with the scooped out deck the overall ride is smooth. Comfy MFC footstraps are placed outboard so sailors can firmly engage the fin and top speed is right up there. Gybing is a focused affair with concentration/commitment needed. It’s in no way super technical but for desirable planing exits attention is needed.
Slotting the AFS-2 foil in the box and the SL2 transforms before your very eyes. We opened up the straps considerably for foiling mode. Having had an initial flight with straps set to normal it became apparent we were too outboard. With a small tweak it was good to go.
As with slalom mode AHD’s SL2 winds up the revs efficiently. The soft forgiving nose helps keep momentum in the face of chop while it’s moderately wide rounded tail helps induce lift. A little nudge (pump) sees it take off effectively. With a quoted width of 79.6cm it’s not the girthiest of platforms for windfoiling. Yet there’s enough leverage to control pitch and roll while the lower width really benefits counter gain.
During unwanted touch downs the scooped forward section and soft rails come into play again, shedding water and helping with follow on take offs. It’s very forgiving if you should drop, which by design is a very welcome trait when foiling.
Round corners and foot placement again needs to be accurate. Wider boards can be more forgiving. With AHD’s SL2 you’ll need to focus on technique, which after a small amount of time should start to click.
AHD’s SL2 slalom, foil ready 132L board is good looking and one that straddles both disciplines with suitable aplomb. For slalom heads it delivers an engaging yet manageable ride rewarding input with satisfying results. For windfoilers the SL2 delivers a stable flight, relative to its quoted width, that encourages progression. Its light weight helps with foiling take offs and increasing efficient momentum in fairly choppy waters. As a multi-discipline performance toy you really can’t knock it.
Flight control! – AFS-2 windfoil review
As with all things windsurfing the world of foils moves fast. At the time of writing Foil & Co (a subsidiary brand of AHD) have already launched their updated range of monolithic carbon foils and new website – www.afs-foils.com You’d therefore be forgiven for thinking the brand’s AFS-2 is old hat, which couldn’t be further from the truth.
Having spent considerable time with the first gen AFS-1 we’ve since had opportunity to play with the AFS-2 and AHD SL2 132 foil ready board (see review elsewhere) extensively. When testing equipment it’s important to go in depth, across as wide a range of conditions as we can. And with the AFS-2 we’ve certainly achieved that!
From the moment we coupled up the AFS-2 our experienced flights in comparison to the AFS-1 were night and day. Having previously been told lift wouldn’t be quite as early as with the AFS-1 that much does ring true. Although the actual amount of time it takes to hover is minimal.
Featuring a 70cm universal wing, complete with 92.5cm tapered mast and 85cm fuselage the AFS-2 is a significant piece of carbon. A high aspect foil, with thinner and longer wing spans, it bolts to board via standard deep tuttle. Foil & Co use star head fixings for extra leverage when tightening.
With around 12 knots we used a 6m to see how things panned out first run. Happily we were taking flight in gusts without issue. And straight away it became apparent the amount of control the AFS-2 delivers is unparalleled.
Following on from that initial session we chucked the AFS-2 at everything from 10-25+ knots. In all instances, even when a tad over gassed, the AFS-2’s composure and good manners were ever on show. Of course, you can over foil on almost any of these toys, but it takes a lot for the AFS-2 to cavitate and cause those unnerving drops from the sky.
Another tick in the AFS-2’s box is its speed. Due to the foil’s construction, and fixed mast/fuselage lay up, you get minimal, if any, torsional twist. You can feel this on some, especially if swapping from one foil to another. The AFS-2, however, remains rock steady and delivers superior efficiency. How did we measure this? When flying next to riders on standard slalom kit it was obvious the AFS-2 easily kept up and, and in some cases outran.
Going round corners requires a degree of concentration as there is some push back from the foil. That said after a few attempts progress can still be made.
The AFS-2 is the most controlled windfoil we’ve used to date. Easy take offs, speed at flight and able to cope with fluctuating conditions it’s no wonder some of the PWA pro lot are using this brand’s foils. Superb manufacturing techniques, with top drawer attention to detail, cap off a great product from the French foiling crew.
AFS – 2 foil: £1699
AHD SL2 132: £1649 (less fin & foil). Full Select fin range and AFS Foil package options available from Kai Sports Ltd – Example: SL2 board, Select S1 fin and AFS W85 Full Carbon Foil = £2699