TEST:

AK PHAZER 5’4’’ 65L

AK

PHAZER 5’4” 65L

TESTED & WORDS BY: Jim Gaunt

TEST TEAM NOTES: The AK Phazer is a one board-line solution for all your foiling needs, ranging from a tiny 3’11’’ (25L), through to the 6’0’’ model (110L). The 5’4’’, 5’8’’ and 6’0’’ are the wing-specific shapes and, unlike the rest of the range, are not recommended for riders looking to also cross into kiting or pump / wake foiling. The 5’4’’ that we had is aimed at intermediate to advanced wingfoilers, billed at the ‘magic’ size for many riders in that bracket. And man... have I enjoyed having this board available for my sessions!

I’ve been really happily riding a brace of 75 litre boards for the last few months (F-One Rocketwing and Naish Hover S25), so the ten litre step down to 65 litres was a good one for me, and I’m sure one that many riders of sub 80/85 kilos in weight would be keen to make themselves. I tackled my first sessions strapless in both light and strong wind, with both the AK Durable Supply Co 1600 surf wing and my personal F-One 1280 Phantom FCT. Working well with both, the US track mount box is compatible with any standard 9 x 16.5cm foil plate system, and I’ve really enjoyed switching back and forth across brands. Firstly, the shape of the F-One Rocketwing, Naish Hover and AK Phazer are all quite different. The F-One Rocketwing maintains width from nose to tail, the Hover has more volume percentage from the mid-point to the rear, where the Phazer is the opposite, having a more pulled in tail and fuller nose than the Naish. This surely comes from the Phazer’s surf foiling influence in the range’s smaller sizes. Note: I weigh around 72 kilos, and with a wet wetsuit, impact vest, harness etc. you can probably add five kilos or so to that, so 65 litres doesn’t sink wildly with my weight on it, but is certainly partly submerged once I’ve clambered onto it.

The challenge at first was adapting to having less volume than I’ve been used to under my knees through to my toes when kneeling on the board in a waterstart position. This was particularly challenging in bigger rolling seas when it was really windy – difficult, but not impossible, but no doubt every boardstart in those conditions took more concentration and sometimes a resilient word with myself as I remained crouched low. It didn’t take me long to become used to the slightly different knee / shinn pressures and tightly coiled core needed on the Phazer compared to the other two boards. As soon as you can get your hands onto your wing handles and engage any sort of wing power, the Phazer then stabilises and starts tracking forward. As soon as it does that you’re in a good place because the volume in front of your knees then starts coming good. Once you plant your front foot in position the Phazer feels very steady and provides an excellent platform for readying yourself to stand to both feet. Although the tail is narrower than I’ve ridden, the concave channels in the base of the Phazer displace water beautifully and help you reach the planing speed required for your foil to rise up. Once in flight the Phazer feels very responsive as it’s such a compact shape.

TOUCHDOWNS The windier the better basically. At speed and with power in your wing, the Phazer handles touchdowns really well. It’s in the lighter winds that perhaps the flatter deck and reduced bow rocker under the nose (in particular when compared to the F-One Rocket) the Phazer is a bit more tricky, but not impossible by any means once you’re used to it. At speed however, and with power in your wing, especially with the board canted over a bit in your natural riding position, the Phazer deflects water thanks to its pulled in nose and chined rails very well. Also, if you touch down after a tack for example the smaller tail also helped me rescue a couple of submerged board situations in straps, powering the wing up and loading up my front foot, pressing against the reassuring resilience of the volume under my front foot. This is the first time I’ve ridden a board that has less litres of volume than my kilo body weight, and there’s no doubt in lighter wind that you are relying heavily on pumping your wing to come up onto the plane. It’s harder work and you need to be on your game with pumping your feet, too. I have to say though that the Phazer’s ability to create forward momentum with any sort of wind in your wing and the way it then immediately stabilises under front foot pressure, gives you a good chance of success.

STRAPS AND STRAPLESS The 65 litre size is the ideal stepping stone to mix up strapless and strapped riding. It’s equally at home for either, so is great for people looking to make this transition, without really having to worry too much about choosing a board more suited to light wind or strong wind, wave riding or freestyle – the Phazer 5’4’’ 65L is very at home for all. I’ve had the Phazer for a couple of months so spent the time coming in to tweak strap position perfectly. I’ve gone for an offset front strap quite central for my stronger right front foot and a regular back foot strap, essentially sacrificing straps on my weaker regular left foot forward stance. I put my mast just forward of centre with my back foot strap in the middle of the insert options and my front foot strap one insert back from the front. (It would be useful having a graphic measurement marker on the mast track to easily get the mast in the exact position you had it last time if you separate your mast and board every session, but I just eyeballed the distance my mast was from the gold AK sticker between the tracks and got it pretty accurate that way). The Phazer is just absolutely spot on for freeride winging. Pumping, jumping, wave riding, carving – it’s beautifully balanced. Spend the time tweaking your strap position when you step down in board size like this and you can really find the perfect position, whether you’re hacking out through waves or ramps and looking for a jump, or turning on a dime and pumping onto waves.

WAVES AND PERFORMANCE Of course performance is a lot about the foil you’re riding, but I have to say the Phazer is a fantastic ally to pair up with a slower, surfier, steadier wing like a 1600, or equally esomething, smaller, faster and more high aspect. The pulled in tail means you can more or less forget about worrying about the rear section catching in waves and ride with a lovely feeling of freedom. The connection with the foil is as good as I’ve experienced and, while the board is thick in the middle to allow for a more compact overall size, the carbon layers and load plate mean you can still enjoy a connected feel with your foil and enjoy great efficiency in your pumping movements. WEAR AND TEAR Most of my winging happens off a shingle beach and, although there are some scratches developing on the paintwork of the Phazer, the matt exterior of the board seems very robust – almost military – like it was designed to be scuffed when you place the board down on the beach, a little heavy handed through exhaustion after a good session.

FEATURES The handle in the base of the board is only small but perfectly positioned to be able to carry your board to or from the water with the foil facing away from you. The rubber deck pad covers a broad area of the board; more than you’ll ever find yourself using, yet still allows the aesthetic of the board some exposure. It really does look great. The Phazer 5’4’’ is light too, weighing just 4.92 kilos, according to AK. Inside the Phazer, the Reflex Carbon construction creates an extremely strong and stiff standing area, covering an ultra-lightweight fused EPS core. The foil connection features a heavy duty high-density load plate, which carries the load of the foil and connects it to the top deck for a direct connection between the foil and the rider. Foot strap inserts give you the option of running either a three strap set-up with 45 degree angles for your front feet, or you can place an inline/offset two strap set-up as there are inserts also running along the centre line. I’ve found a slightly centralised front foot strap with an offset angle just ideal for me at the moment. Basically, there’s loads of playability here to find the right set-up for you. The AK surf straps I had offer loads of easy adjustability via Velcro straps encased in the outer material to cater for boots or bare feet.

“...while the compact shape really pays dividends in performance feel once you’re up and going. An amazing tool for all sorts of progression. We love this.”

SUMMARY: The team behind AK are long committed to delivering products that can stand up to cross-purpose use. While wingsurfing may have initially stemmed from kitesurfing and windsurfing, as you progress it obviously starts to have more in common with surf foiling as soon as any pumps and bumps are involved. The Phazer’s multi-purpose smaller range of boards have obviously had so much influence over these bigger wing specific sizes that makes them feel so good for riding around the ocean, pumping, gliding and carving and jumping. The positive nose volume under your front foot make stepping down in board size a manageable reality when it comes to technique (with some perseverance of course) while the compact shape really pays dividends in performance feel once you’re up and going. An amazing tool for all sorts of progression. We love this. WSW LIKED:

Ideal feel for strapped and strapless performance riding, while making life just easy enough for advancing intermediates to still make progress. If you’re over 85 kilos, the 5’8’’ (90L) might be the right step down for you and have all the performance benefits. WSW WOULD CHANGE: If you’re used to a board with more tail volume for very forgiving kneeling board starts, you’ll have some adapting to do.

PHAZER BALANCE POINTS /10: Robust / Build: 9 Lightweight handling: 9 Stability: 6 Touchdown control: 7 Carving: 9 Ease-of-use: 7 SIZES: 6’0’’ (110L), 5’8’’ (90L), 5’4’’ (65L), 5’2’’ (46L), 4’8’’ (36L), 4’3’’ (30L) and 3’11’’ (25L)

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