TEST: F-ONE ROCKET WING V2
ROCKET WING V2 RANGE
6'0'', 5'10'', 5'5'' & 5'4''
TESTED BY: Jim Gaunt (WSW editor) & Rob Claisse (Progression.me)
WORDS: Jim Gaunt
TEST TEAM NOTES: Once again, as with the wings, we've had a lot of experience with F-One boards in the last 18 months. I'm 70 kilos and learnt on the 5'10'' (105 litre) for a few weeks, before progressing on to the 5'5'' (85 litre), before more recently having the 5'4'' (75 litre) for a couple of months. My test partner Rob Claisse is 105 kilos and he learnt on the 6'0'' (120 litre) and has moved down to the 5'5'' (85 litre) – very much a sinker for him, but certainly wasn't for me.
So what we have here is a range of boards that can very much deliver to the beginner market in the bigger sizes and in the smaller sizes is both an intermediate and a more advanced freeride board to different riders, depending on their size and weight. First and foremost, they do this because there are several design elements, consistent across the whole range, that make these boards incredibly user-friendly.
Those elements are: compact length, combined with generous width, a stable tail and very forgiving nose shape, plus very well bevelled rails that let water run smoothly. Apart from in the tail, there are no harsh edges anywhere to be seen on the Rocket Wing. This is a board made to fly above water, but does everything it can to help you get up there by feeling so smooth and helpful when it's actually in contact with the water's surface.
PLANING HULL Have you ever been on or seen one of those shallow draft tin dinghies that the alligator spotters use to take tourists on high speed tours through the inland waterways in Florida? They have these huge fans on the rear of the deck, while at the front on the underside of the boat's bow there's a long nose rocker doing all it can to push air down and underneath the boat so it can glide smoothly at high speed across the water's surface. The Rocket Wing really reminds me of that, not only in look but it's so obviously apparent when you're riding it.
NO NOSE SINK Whichever size of Rocket Wing V2 either Rob or I have ridden, and from our very first runs, we were impressed that the board does all it can to prevent the nose sinking. Should you actually manage to get the nose underwater, the Rocket Wing V2 remains stable and projects forward to help the nose come back up. It's fantastic. This very forgiving aspect of performance is great because it helps you so much in the kneeling and getting to your feet part of winging. It means you're more stable when you get to your feet and have more success straight away. The stability under the nose also allows you to get away with some quite heavy foot movements if you touchdown when switching your feet before or after a turn. If you do ever manage to sink the nose, the Rocket Wing somehow remains stable and positively brings the nose back up to the surface. This is one of the first things I noticed on the 105 litre model and am still appreciating on the 75 litre (with more experience) – it's very impressive and offers me a very high chance of being able to ride away successfully from a situation in which I would otherwise have wiped out.
Above: Nose comparison between the Rocket Wing V2 75L (top) and Naish Hover 75L - also reviewed this issue Below: Naish Hover 75L (left), Rocket Wing V2 75L (right)
WIDTH The Rocket Wing boards pack a lot of volume into a compact length, and they do so through a carefully managed relationship between the thickness in the middle of the board and the overall width. Rob (105 kilos himself) learnt on the six foot which offers 120 litres and he says it's the 30 inch width which helped him greatly. “It was great for getting me going, and then is super stable for learning those first bits for how to get up and then pump to get riding. Once up and riding I didn't find the swing weight of this bigger board too bad at all.” As Rob progressed quickly into more wavey conditions, he found more than anything it was the wide tail more than the swing weight or wide nose to be the part of the board he'd catch when turning more and more aggressively.
Rob has a huge amount of kite foiling experience, so was able to switch down to the 85 litre quickly, which is 20 litres under his body weight, but really goes to show the balance and stability, even underwater, that the Rocket Wing V2 provides. I too switched to the 85 litre board (from the 105 litre board) very quickly, and found it extremely forgiving (I'm around 70 kilos), but also not a board that I quickly felt that I'd grow out of. In fact I still have it and use it in lighter wind conditions when trying out a big wing. So I'd really advise this size as a good 'keeper' for anyone between around 70 to 80 kilos as their first step-down board after using a beginner board. The compact dimensions mean it's still capable in demanding conditions, too.
COMFORT The length-ways oriented groove pattern in the deck pad is very comfortable and also delivers plenty of grip underfoot. Soft enough to enjoy long sessions and no slippage whether in bare feet or boots. There's also a very generous amount of deck covered far enough up towards the nose to cover all eventualities of where you might find your feet wandering to. While I had no issues, Rob says that when it's really windy and the water is difficult, he may have to spend more time riding over waves while on his knees as we have such a short period between the waves here sometimes. As he's tall, heavy and sinking his 85 litre board, he finds there is a tendency for the vertical grip to allow his wetsuit to slip down the board a bit if he lets the nose come up too high. Just a small point from his side, but on the reverse, the lengthways grip is excellent for the way your foot pressures the board side to side when you're riding and carving. So maybe just something for heavier riders to be aware of.
EASY PERFORMANCE The Rocket Wing V2 range feels incredibly well balanced throughout. The wide nose takes effect when called upon, but also the way the nose rocker angles aggressively underneath the board means that the board remains stable in chop and then lets the remaining work be done by the thicker middle and squared off tail sections to promote speed and lift. As the board maintains forward stability, even if your feet aren't perfectly positioned, this allows you the time to correctly stabilise your feet. When the foil picks up speed and the board rises off the water, you will automatically feel comfortable, having had the opportunity to shuffle your feet into the correct position. The straight rails in the centre of the board help you maintain your line and aid release at take-off time. The whole experience is one of smooth control.
When it comes to turning, wide and smoothly or more aggressively, the compact shape of the Rocket Wing V2s, especially as you come to the smaller sizes, really help you progress. While you can ride as aggressively as you like, these boards offer a sense of control and calm, no matter how difficult the water or wind conditions seem to be. We feel that we're always in cruise control. The Rocket Wing V2 is a sublime strapless board, beautifully stable, confidence-inspiring and capable in a huge range of conditions. (The Rocket Wing V2 5'4'', 5'0''and 4'8''are now available with inserts for footstraps).
BUILD As mentioned at the start of this review, we've been riding these boards for over a year. Rob is notoriously both heavy footed and heavy handed at times when handling his gear and both his boards remained in very good condition cosmetically. My 85L came directly from some extensive use from the F-One test team and only has some exterior orange paint cracks, but nothing that effects the internals. The Rocket Wing is light, constructed with F-One's bamboo construction, which is why it rides and handles so well. It's not overly delicate and has a double layer of bamboo in the deck for reinforcement. These boards aren't designed to be indestructible like wakeboards or kiteboards though, so just take care when throwing the boards into the back of your vehicle and they'll last you well. We use ours off a shingle beach, so they're always put down on rocks, and we have no issues.
“The consistency across the Rocket Wing V2 range has provided the Wing Surf World team a very rewarding and smooth, progressive journey thus far into our wingsurfing careers, from our first moments in the sport, and continues to do so today.”
SUMMARY: The consistency across the Rocket Wing V2 range has provided the Wing Surf World team a very rewarding and smooth, progressive journey thus far into our wingsurfing careers, from our first moments in the sport, and continues to do so today. F-One assessed where the key elements that wingsurfing requirements are different to surf foiling, and produced a range of boards here that provide unique control sensations very early on. They really do a lot of the technical work for you, helping you greatly from your first attempts to stand up, to maintaining that assured, consistent feel that's evident through the whole range. Both Rob and I were able to step down in board sizes much earlier than we thought possible thanks to the stable shape qualities in the Rocket Wing V2. After 18 months riding, Rob reckons his ideal two board quiver would be the 5'10'' (105L) as his light wind board, just to make life a bit easier, and the 5'4'' (75L) with inserts for windier conditions. For me, I think I'm ready to step down from the 5'4 (75L) to the 5'0'' (60L) because I've been really impressed with how forgiving each size has been, and how quickly I've become comfortable riding it, having had the luxury of progressively downsizing. Even though these boards feel very accessible, my advice would still be to not go too small with your sizing purchases because these boards offer good performance in each size. You will progress quickly if you're more conservative in your first purchase and then can maybe size down more aggressively after that. Most people will be looking to the 75 and 85 litre models who are reading this review having come through their first learning weeks. I found the step down to the 75 litre model very easy after spending a lot of time on the 85 litre, and could probably have made the step down to it sooner, so intuitive and consistent is the handling across the range. So I'd just say that if you're under 70 kilos in weight, you could step down quickly to the 75 if you feel that you've been progressing very quickly on something around 100 litres so far. And if you're over 70 kilos, up to 80-85, perhaps consider a less aggressive step down to the 85 litre – after all, riding easily is fun. WSW LIKED:
Excellent fluid dynamics – the Rocket Wing V2 works so smoothly in contact with the water that it means you're up and flying in no time. The twin tracks for the mast mount are also a design we've enjoyed as we've been able to use the Rocket Wing with various other manufacturers' masts, too. It's also quick and easy to fix your mast to your board at the start of your session when you're keen to hit the water! WSW WOULD CHANGE: Inserts for foot straps will be imminently available for the 5'4'', 5'0'' and 4'8'' models, so considering that would have been our main request, we're yet to find anything serious to change!
ROCKET WING V2 BALANCE POINTS x/10: Robust / Build: 7 Lightweight handling qualities: 7 Stability: 9 Touchdown control: 9 Carving: 7 Ease-of-use: 9 SIZES: 6'6'' x 31'' (140L), 6'0'' x 30'' (120L), 5'10'' x 28'' (105L), 5'5'' x 27'' (85L), 5'4'' x 25'' (75L), 5'0'' x 23'' (60L) & 4'8'' x 21'' (44L) Insert options coming soon on the 5'4'', 5'0'' and available now on the 4'8''