THE NORTH CHARGE 5’9’’ & CROSS 5’2’’ TEST FIRST APPEARED IN KITEWORLD #105 ON OUR NEW FREE DIGITAL PLATFORM IN JULY 2020.
NORTH CHARGE 5’9’’ & CROSS 5’2’’ REVIEW
“These boards are beautifully simple looking, wonderfully featured and manage to deliver high-performance with relative ease-of-use. Really well thought out and beautifully engineered products.”
Tested by: Jim Gaunt
TEST TEAM NOTES
North’s method of producing a performance surfboard that’s light and strong is using Futurelite, a carbon and innegra wire frame that forms a structural skeleton around the EPS foam core. There’s also a woven carbon tail reinforcement and DualShock EVA inserts in the heel area of both these boards, which are as slick as they come. Light in feel, giving a super high-spec impression in your hands without seeming fragile.
The full EVA deck grip on both boards is first class, too. Zero slip, there’s superb contact and feel with the board underneath. As well as the traditional tail kick in the pad to secure your back foot during hard turns, there’s also a kick for your front foot that I found useful a few times in saving my foot slipping too far forward coming out of manoeuvres, particularly when trying flat water moves on the Cross, but equally when being aggressive on a wave with the Charge. It makes the difference between a memorable move and another forgettable bail!
NORTH CHARGE 5’9’’
The Charge is the down-the-line, most full-on wave board in North’s four design surfboard range and it’s an absolute beauty. Cleanly up to speed, the 5’9’’ is manoeuvrable but also not overly tippy for a less experienced rider, either. Jesse Richman told me his go-to is the 5’7’’ and that I should be on that, but even though I’m light, at just under 70 kilos, I didn’t find the 5’9’’ too big even in stronger winds. At 26.8 litres, the 5’9’’ is a little more buoyant than I’d usually ride in a pure wave board, so no doubt the 5’7’’ (24.6 L) would be even more reactive for me rail-to-rail in stronger winds, but nevertheless I’d still happily own the 5’9’’, especially if my regular spot had decent waves and more moderate winds.
The Charge is very smooth and reactive whenever you’re engaging the rail. If you’ve got good front foot turning technique, you’re further rewarded with a board like this that loves to hold and smoothly drive around a turn. However, where the board absolutely shone for me was in the explosively quick top turns. Bend your legs, turn your hips and boom; you can fly around the top of the wave with such clean speed that I found myself instantly ready to turn back into the wave, time and again. Very reactionary, but relatively easy.
NORTH CROSS 5’2’’
After 30 minutes, my colleague Caroline said this was a bit too big for her, but she is used to a small, low volume and very narrow board. Meanwhile Jesse Richman told me he preferred the more strapless freestyle focused Comp to the Cross when he was perusing our test gear in the garage. Poor Cross, I thought. It looks so good, though!
What do they know? This is an absolute blast! I wasn’t expecting such a tight turning board for a ‘freeride’ surfboard, but it carves fluidly and with an amazing carry of speed.
The 5’2’’ feels more stable than its 24 litres of volume might suggest because the flatter shape means there’s always more of the board ‘working’ with you. The 5’2’’ also isn’t hard work on the legs to turn. The way it continues to glide between sections is excellent. Again, the top turn feels sharp, delivering a really satisfying feel that you’re gouging the wave face powerfully, which is really helped because the Cross can propel you beautifully round a bottom turn even if you’re not using so much kite power.
This is a board that you could get as your first surfboard, learn to gybe on (though is tippier than the Naish Skater) and take anywhere where there’s anything from small to decent head high surf and have great sessions on.
Added to that it pops and airs really well and, after a few weeks of solid twin-tipping, I was soon landing basic air gybes on this, sliding tail first, feeling secure with my weight over the wide nose, before centring my body over the board and powering the kite up again to ride away. The Cross isn’t so flat and one dimensional that flat water freestyle is all it does. It’s really well balanced between wave riding / strapless airs / freestyle and being a stable deck for learning the basics.
WHAT SIZE TO CHOOSE?
Size-wise I was really happy on the 5’2’’ for stability and turning. If I was riding in a lot of wind most of the time, I’d probably opt for the 5’0’’, but for the broadest range, the 5’2’’ is excellent and North recommend it for riders between 70 – 90 kilos, so I’m right at the bottom end of that, but I do like to ride with the smallest kite I can – I found the buoyancy helped and also added forgiveness in my turns.
If you’re a lot less than 70 kilos, then definitely go for the 5’0’’. The 5’4’’ is a lighter wind / bigger rider option.
North also make a board called the Chase, which is essentially based on the same shape as the Cross but has an insert for a foil to mount. I rode that too – find it on the foil test page.
These boards are beautifully simple looking, wonderfully featured and manage to deliver high-performance with relative ease-of-use. Really well thought out and beautifully engineered products, if you’re serious about waves, or are a lighter rider looking to purely improve your turns and also want to be able to handle stronger winds on a surfboard, the smaller Charge is the one for you. For all other situations, the Cross is a prime one-board solution.
CHARGE BALANCE POINTS
(TEST SCORE BREAKDOWNS HERE)
Pure wave riding: 9
Big waves: 9
Small waves: 6.5
Strapless freestyle: 6
Early planing: 7.5
Bottom turn drive: 8
Snappy turning: 8.5
CROSS BALANCE POINTS
(TEST SCORE BREAKDOWNS HERE)
Pure wave riding: 7
Big waves: 7
Small waves: 8
Strapless freestyle: 8
Early planing: 8
Bottom turn drive: 8
Snappy turning: 7
CHARGE: 5’11’’ x 19 ½’’ x 2 3/8’’ (29.1L), 5’9’’ x 19’’ x 2 5/16’’ (26.8L) and 5’7’’ x 18 ½’’ x 2 ¼’’ (24.6L)
CROSS: 5’4’’ x 19’’ x 2 5/16’’ (26.7L), 5’2’’ x 18 ½’’ x 2 ¼’’ (24.3L) and 5’0’’ x 18’’ x 2 3/16’’ (22.3L)
MORE INFORMATION AVAILABLE AT: NORTHKB.COM
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