Bit of a short review on the 2014 Tabou 3S 86 LTD.
Rider specs - 80kg's. Preferred conditions 20-30 knot bump and jump Port Phillip Bay, Melbourne.
I've been after a more comfortable and controllable high wind bay board for a few years now. As I don't plan on having anything smaller for the foreseable future I was looking for a board that would still work well into the 30-35 knot wind range, but with enough volume to float me in our unpredictable & gusty northerly winds. On a recent trip to Maui I decided to try something different to what I normally ride. I rented a 2013 tabou 3S 86 in a standard construction. After riding that for 14 days straight at Kanaha in 18-35 knots conditions(5.2m to 4.2m), I came away feeling the 3S was the board for me. I feel Kanaha has similar conditions in it's off peak (less swell) season to our bay. Maybe less confused with a more defined swell, but still similar and a good test. I have some minor issues with my right ankle and knee - they tend to get quite sore quickly when sailing in rough conditions making things a little unpleasant in rough chop, sometimes forcing me to stop sooner than I would like. Thankfully my joints were not an issue while in Maui when on the Tabou 3S. But I was still skeptical thinking the warm water and pleasant conditions may have been misleading and not a true comparison to sailing in Melbourne and on my usual gear. So with a 35 knot forecast at Kanaha I decided to rent my usual high wind Melbourne bay board and compare that with the 3S side by side on that particular day. I started on the 3S 86 and sailed it for a hour or so. Comfort and control is the best way for me to quickly describe it. Could I become bored with the 3S quickly due to it's ease of use? It seemed to be such an easy and comfortable board to ride - possibly I could which was a concern. I then switched over to my usual high wind Melbourne board. First run out I was sailing defensively with less confidence. Within 20 minutes I could feel pain in my ankle returning. On a positive note my "usual" board turned a much tighter gybe with less effort, and felt a little more controlled in the air, but in the 3S's defense it was a more wave orientated board. I was also lucky enough to be able to try the 2013 Tabou Pocket in the same size which left a very positive impression on me as well. Just as a note, I used the exact same sails in Maui as I do in Melbourne.
So, long story short I decided to order a new 2014 Tabou3S 86 LTD shortly after returning. It's been sitting in our spare room for the past month waiting to be used due to some fairly below average conditions recently in Melbourne. First visual impressions are - very good build quality. Nice generous and comfy looking footpads and straps. Nice quality G10 power box fin. I initially didn't like the new graphics when I saw them online but in person they really do look awesome. Probably a surfboard repairers worst nightmare in terms of colour matching but fingers crossed it's not going to be needed :) On Saturday with a strong West to WSW forecast we decided to head down to Safety Beach. Arrived to 25-30+ knot winds with most guys rigging 4.5m's. Rigged my 4.5m Ezzy Tiger and headed out on the 3S 86 for the first time. I currently only have the 25.5cm fin it comes with and knew it could be too big for the conditions. Foot straps all inboard, sail set slightly forward in the box. First impressions the board felt very similar to the 2013 model. It jumped onto the plane rather quick. Quick enough but controlled in the strong wind making it easy to get in the straps fast and over the whitewash with ease as there was a fair bit of small mushy surf breaking. In a straight line it felt somewhat faster than I remembered in Maui. I'm not the best at sailing upwind but I was having no issues on Saturday, probably due to being well powered but I'd like to think my technique has improved and/or the new board points very well. The board slices through the chop with ease when heading upwind and feels very controlled and comfortable when heading off the wind. I enjoy the occasional downwind blast when a reasonably smooth run can be found and it felt quick enough to want to strap the gps on. Feeling confident in the conditions we had on Saturday I was even trying more jumps than I normally would in similar conditions. The specs have changed slightly from 2013 to 2014, the board is 6cm shorter and 1cm wider. Having ridden the Pocket in Maui I would say the 2014 3S 86 nudges slightly more towards the Pocket in feel, which for me is a good thing. It obviously feels more compact - so more controlled and a little better when jumping which is where I felt the length of the 2013 model. Mine, being the LTD edition would also contribute to the difference I felt compared to the STD edition I used previously. The 3S gybes very nice. I found with a good amount of downward pressure and rail it gybed beautifully through the chop. To sum up quickly the 2014 3S 86 LTD is a very special board. One I'm extremely pleased with, even more so than I was expecting. Everyone is obviously different and likes a different feel and ride but for me the board is easily the best I have owned or used as far as smaller high wind boards go. Easy, comfortable & controlled which gives me a lot of confident to go for it and push myself in rough conditions. With the 2014 changes, and possibly the carbon construction, it feels even more exciting to ride but not to the point of out of control or too harsh. It's early days but after some time on the water now I would definitely say this isn't a board I would easily get bored with, but rather a board I will progress faster and more easily on in the next few years.
Nice short and sweet review there ejmack!
I did notice every time I looked over you were looking like you were having a good time on the 3s and a comfortable relaxed stance, worked out well being able to compare side by side in Maui.
Im interested to hear if anyone has sailed the 2014 96 3s as its a fair bit different to previous models with the new stepped tale cut outs, not what you would expect to see on a fsw board.
Thanks Jman. It looked as though we were all enjoying it on Saturday. Was a good call making the trip down to Safety Beach.
Yeah, just realised my short review wasn't so short.