At A Glance
Introducing North’s second edition of the Swell. This prone board is available in several sizes - I have the 4’4 (38L) on test. It also comes in a 3’10 (28L), 4’1 (33L), 4’7 (43L), & 4’10 (50L).
On first inspection, this is a fairly unique board in that it is slightly shorter & fatter than most on the market. I’d say that for the lengths specified above, most brands would have around 5 litres less volume than the Swell does. I was super interested to get out on the water and have a feel for myself what this board could do.
The new Swell has a deeper recessed deck than the previous version, designed to give a closer connection & feel to the foil. The Hybrid Carbon board features bevelled rails with some fairly sharp angles, it certainly makes them easy to grab when popping up. It has a tapered tail to aid clearance when pumping too.
Something I’m a big fan of is North’s new ‘DropBox’ mast track. It’s a very clever design that makes attaching your foil to the board much quicker. You simply leave the bolts attached to the mast plate and drop it into place, slide along to the preferred position, and tighten them up there. When you’re as busy as I often find I am, this is a bit of a game-changer. There might be a downside to these if you wanted your foil as far forward in the box as possible but the tracks are quite far forward in the deck anyway. I found I rode with the foil just behind the middle mark.
Build & aesthetics wise it feels every bit as strong as the gear we’ve become accustomed to receiving from North. The fading grey finish is subtle & stylish without drawing too much attention as you walk down the beach, probably a good thing when you’re a foiler!
On The Water
I was fortunate enough to take the Swell both prone foiling & winging, and let me tell you, it excelled at both! I only managed one prone session as we were going through a dreadful flat spell. The session I did get in was in fairly small and gutless waves, to my surprise the Swell paddled into waves with ease and got me up on foil quickly. I have to say I was unsure that on a 4’4 I’d have enough length to get me into the waves but I believe the rocker shape, volume, and bevelled rails meant I accelerated quickly down the face of the wave and onto foil. Once up, that slightly shorter length and recessed deck made pumping & linking waves a joy. Even when touching down the shape of the hull made recovering an easy task. I usually ride a 33L prone board and the Swell left me wondering whether I had gone too small unnecessarily, after all, it’s all about catching waves and time on foil! Another thing to note is the deck grip with a small ridge down the centreline of the board, it made finding the middle of the board and foot positioning while pumping easy to navigate. Perhaps not essential but certainly useful!
While the Swell isn’t advertised as a wing board, for me, it holds just as much value in that discipline. I realise sinker boards aren’t for everyone but if I’m going to part with my hard-earned cash for a board I want it to be multi-discipline. That means prone & wing, but also dock starting & tow, the Swell does all of this and in my book that’s a win!
I know there’s a lot of debate about where sinker boards fit within winging but I have to say they’re the only type of boards I want to use when I wing now. After being so used to the agility of prone boards I find that big litre boards are sluggish on the wing. Therefore you won’t be surprised to hear that I had several insanely fun sessions on the 38L Swell. It was quick to plane & get on foil, once flying its manoeuvrability was second to none. As I discuss in the Sonar foils test, turning downwind and connecting the bumps was incredibly fun. The shorter length and lower swing weight of the Swell made pumping much more efficient than if I’d been using a larger board.
Something to note is that the foot strap inserts only allow for ‘surf style’ meaning that if you’re using straps winging you have to do half your riding upwind toeside. I find it depends on the conditions of the day as to whether I’m bothered by that, if it’s a decent wave session I tend to continue to ride in my goofy stance throughout anyway.
The North Swell is a versatile and high-quality product. The bigger sizes will be excellent for learning to prone foil and smaller sizes perfect for progression. The bonus: it’ll double up as your sinker wing board!
This review was in Issue 15 of Tonic Mag.For more information visit North