Airush continues its legacy of wave dominance with the new Converse range. The four-size line offers the perfect collection of performance models for riders of every weight class. The secret to the Converse shape is the smooth outline and progressive tail kick that suits the high speeds generated by the kite's power, or hollow, powerful waves. The pure surf evolution of the Converse means you can ride more vertically, with more snap than you could imagine. The kite-specific construction offers significant reinforcement around the foot strap, top deck and fins to handle the increased speed and abuse from kiting. The unique bio-tech wood sandwich maintains the lightweight and responsive feel every kiteboarder and surfer is searching for.
TEST TEAM NOTES:
We raved about the Converse 6'0'' in 2008 and promptly went out and got one for the office after testing it in Tenerife, which has stood up to a hammering in all sorts for the last two years. We loved it during the test in solid cross-shore conditions for its on-wave performance, with fast bottom turns, good drive and predictable grip that carries you up the face. Top turns were rewarding and the board carved and snapped its way beautifully along a wave. Back home in cross-shore conditions and strong, blustery winds the board’s ease-of-use made it forgiving enough to make the most of the temperamental wave setups we have here.
The 2010 version has had a face lift and, rather than the matt top coat of last time around, it's been treated to a glossy epoxy finish. There's a smidgen more thickness throughout, the rails in the tail section are just a shade sharper, but it's still a really good looking shape with a nice amount of rocker and a pulled in tail. The Converse has that classic surfboard shape look about it. Why mess too much with something that was obviously on the money in the first place?
The Converse 2010 comes with a surfboard style tail pad and at the front is a basic no-nonsense foam pad, should you choose to use it, and is selfadhesive this time around. We like pads like this with just enough thickness to add comfort and to stop you jamming your heels through the deck, but are thin enough to allow you to feel everything going on under your feet. Foot straps are comfortable and fairly thick, covering a nice proportion of your foot and are adjusted in the traditional way by screwing them to the board through different holes along the strap. There are also plenty of inserts on the board for different stance configurations. High-quality FCS fins come as standard again, which are great as they are so easy to find replacements for virtually anywhere in the world that you can find a surf shop. The Surfinz box allows up to 18mm of adjustment on each fin. Airush claim the board has been beefed up in construction, and while that's true with reinforcements in the heel areas for example, it does have that excitingly delicate surfboard feel in your hands. Having said that, it's certainly more solid than a regular surfboard.
On the water riding off the wave is easy. The Converse doesn't bounce around a lot and isn't cumbersome. Svelte and light it copes with chop fine, is comfortable with a single concave and noses upwind nicely. It's never going to win any races blasting around the ocean but that's not a fault of the board; it's a characteristic of a specialist wave board. On the wave it's not too technical either, but does reward good technique. Responding well to tightening or widening turns, there's also enough rail to carry your speed around big sections without bogging. It's also delicate enough to be able to influence it quickly and sharply, for burying a cutback or banging out huge walls of spray in arcing top turns.
The Converse isn't a board you have to wait years to earn your wave badges to be able to ride, but is equipped with enough pedigree to keep accomplished riders grinning for weeks. A quite traditional 6'0'' shape it was designed by a shaper focussed on good, performance waves but has enough ease-of-use, is easy to gybe, isn't too much of a wobbler and gets goingwithout any fuss, so that more basic surfboard riders can grow into it, too. If you're wanting a board to surf on as well, having tried, the 6'0'' feels small and is a bit of a slog, so unless you're a legend paddler (which, granted we're not) you should probably up-size your order.
KW LIKED: The ability to cope with lots of conditions, but the knowledge that when you get it out in some quality set-ups, it won't let you down.
KW WOULD CHANGE: Delicate feel.
SIZES: 6'4'' x 18 ¾'', 6'2'' x 18 ¼'', 6'0'' x 18'' and 5'10'' x 17 ¼''
This test is in issue #44