The Wam replaces the Bullet as the all-round high-performance surfboard from North, ideal for quick rail-to-rail acceleration and snappiness off-the-top with massive amounts of grip and control. A relatively low-entry rocker and width give you a large planing surface, while a full single concave provides plenty of carry when the kite power drops. This board is set to annihilate any small waves you put in front of it with its super-tight turning radius, pleasing strapped and strapless riders alike.
TEST TEAM NOTES:
The Wam has some assuring weight to it and definitely feels very resilient because of that. It's thick too and initial impressions are that it has a lot of volume alongside soft, chunky rails. As usual with North, the fixtures and fittings are all good. The Future fin system is proven and handy for being able to easily replace your fins if you break them, or want to upgrade them to something stiffer. The straps are asymmetrical, like on a twin-tip, so those coming from a twin-tip will find them familiar and really comfortable. Some people like a bit more movement and less support from their straps on a surfboard, and the big thick pads on the Wam do feel brilliant, but riding in boots further removes the contact you feel with the board. Strapless of course, the pads cover a considerable area of the board and are super comfortable and grippy under your feet. For more advanced riders used to the feel of a regular surfboard, a thinner pad would make the board feel more responsive.
There are plenty of positioning options for foot straps and when the board arrived with us the front strap was set at the most forward position. It made the board ride steadily and felt very stable and balanced, more like a twintip and requiring very little weight adjustment to ride off the wave. Blasting out to sea and hopping over waves was easy like this, but on a wave it made the board feel a bit lifeless, so we moved the strap back, transforming the feel. It started to turn well, allowing you to get over the back foot a lot more. It did mean that riding out to sea you had to ride with your back foot out of the strap to keep the board trimmed and sailing properly, but that becomes normal as you progress.
The weight seemed to add a little bulk, but once on the
plane the volume and soft, chunky rails definitely make the Wam very forgiving. Hard, sharp rails can be twitchy and foot positioning becomes vital. There's plenty of room for error on the North and it is easy to carve rail-to-rail. It's very smooth, but doesn't have that electric advanced feel that good riders will be looking for when they want to be able to really drive out of a turn. If you're not an advanced surfboard rider it will feel lovely and rewarding, whereas as a thinner, lighter board would be a struggle.
The back end is quite full, making it very easy for cruisy turns and carves, but when push comes to shove and you really want to make a super-powered turn or smack a serious section, you'd want something a bit more focussed. It's more suited to hacking around the ocean in average conditions, using the kite to make big turns rather than relying on the wave's power and board to really drive off-the bottom, which is how most people ride.
The Wam is a very comfortable surfboard, is easy to set-up and get on with straight away. You can't fall out with the pads and straps and if this is going to be your first surfboard, you'll absolutely love it, feeling immediately right at home. Gybing is easy and riding it strapless would be ideal because it's easy to ride, strong and allows you time to move your feet around to find the sweet spot. You don't get thrown off it when you step slightly out of place and the forgiving nature is a huge pull factor. Only advanced wave riders would reach its limits in waves over head high.
KW LIKED: All the factors that will help more people get into riding surfboards.
KW WOULD CHANGE: If it was livelier at its top-end, it would be a board for everyone.
SIZES: 6'0'' x 18 ¼, 5'10'' x 18'' and 5'8 x 17 ¾''
This test is in issue #42