It's Tucker's turn in the "Pick 5 Challenge" hotseat! Tucker rides any and all wings and foils that come through the doors at MACkite... can he really pick just five??
Jeff: Tucker, if you had to just pick five pieces for winging and ride it for a year here in Michigan with the conditions that we have, what would you pick?
Tucker: I'm an oddball sometimes, and I like versatility in my gear, especially if I can only pick five things. I'm not even going to limit myself to one sport like winging. I'd like to be able to prone with it, maybe downwind paddle and wake foil. So I'm going to approach it at a bit of a different angle. I've been doing this a while and I have a lot of different ways I like to foil. Some other people are really more focused on one sport or even one facet of a sport, but I like to ride all the time as much as I can to be in the water and having fun, so that versatility is key.
The first thing I would start with are my board choices, because the board is the crux of being able to do all that. I'm going to pick two boards for Michigan. First would be a downwind board, and I'd probably choose a smaller one. I'm more of a prone surfing guy and not a super strong paddleboarder. As fun as the new downwind stuff is, that's just not my forte, so I would size it more towards the downwind winging/light wind size, and also prone downwind. Something in that 80-100L zone, depending on the board.
1. Appletree Skipper Downwind 89
Jeff: Do you have a board in mind that you'd choose?
Tucker: I'm really happy with the Appletree stuff. I've always liked their construction, and the Skipper Downwind is a phenomenal board. That 89L size is great for my weight and light wind winging. It's very sleek, it's light, it's nimble, it's durable, and it prones really well, so that'd probably be my choice for that. The KT Dragonfly is phenomenal as well, and it would be another really good choice, but I'm going to say the Appletree because I really like their Brand Story, I like their company, and I like their construction a lot. If you're only picking five things, I'm assuming it's either a space or a financial thing, and I think for most people it's probably more of a financial decision, so having a board that can last 10 or 20 years under good repair is a good decision.
Jeff: It's closed cell, too.
Tucker: Exactly. You can ding it and repair it without adding weight or stressing about the foam core rotting, taking on weight, or just getting soggy.
2. Omen Flux 60
Jeff: So what's board two?
Tucker: Board two would be my surfy style, wave, good wind, do-it-all wingboard. Mostly for in the waves, but also something that's versatile enough to do some jumps and stuff too, and is going to work in a really wide range of conditions. Because I'm not going to buy three boards, I want one board that's going to work really well from 15 to 50. It'll also be high performance: something a little narrower and a little thinner with a little length to it to add some ease-of-use and range on the bottom end. For that, I would choose the Omen Flux 60L. That's been my favorite board as of late.
Jeff: So you're sticking with the Appletree family for your two boards.
Tucker: Yeah, the construction from Appletree is really good. Omen isn't the same company as Appletree, but Appletree is manufacturing their boards. It's still that high density foam, and that high-end, handmade, custom construction is phenomenal. The Omen is that next level board that's longer, narrower, thinner, and lightweight, with progressive strap placement. On your back foot, it's offset to the heelside and toeside so you can get more leverage on that toeside back foot by putting your strap out there. I usually use a foot hook back there, and that gives you the most leverage and the best foot placement over the board so that you're not forced into that center line stance and can use the hook for when you want to jump.
If I was choosing just one board, I would look really closely at the 72L. That one is an interesting crossover that could cover more light wind than the 60L would. I might even step up to the 80L or 84L since we get a lot of light wind here in the summer. I focus on the fall and wintertime seasons because that's when we get the most wind and the most waves, but if I was a fair weather rider and I wasn't going to get out there when it was real cold, I'd take a close look at the larger boards for a little bit more ease-of-use and for cruise mode when the waves aren't huge and you're not ripping, so you can handle a little longer board.
3. North Loft Pro 8m
Jeff: Well, you've got two down and three more.
Tucker: Next I'm going to go with my wings. It's a tough decision because I could go with one wing and cover a lot of range if it's the right wing and the right foils, but I'm going to go with two wings. One is the North Loft Pro 8m for sure. That thing will get the lightest of the light winds. In Michigan we have super light wind, and that wing has a decent top end too.
Jeff: 12 up to 20 knots for you?
Tucker: Yeah, maybe even more than that with the right foil. If you're going to ride waves and you're just using the wing as a tow-in to get back upwind to get into waves and you're not looking for a specific type of performance or doing a lot with the wing, you can probably push that up to 25 knots. It's going to be totally lit at that point, but you can just feather your way out there and make it work.
Jeff: Most of the people that follow this know you and your riding ability, and you joke occasionally about your weight, but at 200lb you want to put some context to the 8m and what that range would be.
Tucker: I could definitely consider the 7m as well, but being that we do get so many light wind days and I've got that downwind board in the quiver, I want something to pair with that so I can get out in 5 knots and just go for a cruise.
4. Ocean Rodeo Glide Aluula AA 5m
Tucker: My second wing is a tough call, but I'm going to go with the Ocean Rodeo Glide Aluula AA 5m. It's about the price of two wings, so I'm cheating a little bit, but it's a phenomenal wing. It's got a lot of that versatility and a big range, especially on the top end. As a second wing, you want to be able to go out when it's blowing 35, 40 mph, and that's definitely on the top end of the range of that wing, but you can make it happen. It's super light and balanced, it's great in the waves, and it still has decent low end.
Jeff: As for the longevity of it, they're claiming that they've pre-stretched it so that you can get years out of that wing, and time will tell.
Tucker: It's got the Aluula canopy and frame, so it's stiff and it's light, and when you're investing in only five items, you want them to last as long as you can. It's great for everything; you can freestyle it, you can ride it for racing, you can wave ride with it.
If there's a price ceiling, then I'd take a close look at the North Mode Pro and the Ozone Flux. As a price-conscious person by nature, I'd probably go with the Ozone Flux if I was choosing it and had a budget in mind. That's a really great wing and has a lot of the benefits that the AA has. It's not quite as light or stiff, but it's dang good, and the longevity is pretty good with it as well from we've seen so far with a lot of sessions on that one.
5. F-One Eagle 890 / XXS Fuselage / C200 Stabilizer
Jeff: Well, we're at the last one.
Tucker: The foil is probably the hardest choice because we ride so many different foils at the shop. A lot of the brands are similar now, just with slightly different feels. I would choose something around 1000 cm2 in mid/high aspect. One of the foils that would be in the contention for that is the Eagle 890. It rides bigger than it is, and it's super fast and versatile. The SF 930 is really great as well. The Unifoil Progression 140 is a great foil. And the Slingshot Phantasm 899 or the 930... It's a really tough call, but I would have to say it would be the F-One Eagle 890. It's phenomenal. I always like the F-One foils because they're intuitive, very smooth, and crazy efficient. There's just some special sauce with their foils. It's going to lightwind pretty well with an 8m and a downwind board.
Jeff: What rear stabilizer would you pair with it, and what length would you go with for the fuse?
Tucker: If I was choosing a two-piece, it would be the XXS fuse with the C200 stabilizer. They make a version of that in their new Monobloc construction that'll be available moving forward. The Monobloc is a little stiffer and lighter with less drag, but nothing gamechanging.
Jeff: Have you ever paired that with the Downwind 210 stabilizer?
Tucker: Yeah, I rode that one with the Downwind 210 quite a bit, and it pumps a little better and maybe has a little more low end, but I prefer the Carving 200. It's got a bit more of a flowing, bouncy, turning feel with a little more traction in the turn to push off of.
Jeff: I know you're a good surfer; I've seen you on the waves and you like to work the wave from top to bottom.
Tucker: Yeah, I like to push into them and do those power turns and get the little snappies in there. That's really well-suited for that. In our conditions, a lot of times the Eagle is really nice to have with that glide, especially when you're talking about light winding. You want that maximum efficiency and that maximum range from the foil. The 890 is really capable in the turn, and it's definitely beyond what my ability is in terms of what you can do with it.
Jeff: You've opened up my mind a little bit with the fact that you can do one foil and bridge the gap, especially if you get to a certain level of ability and you pair it with the right wing to get powered up in the lighter conditions.
Alternate High Wind Picks
Those were your picks for Michigan, but a lot of people are in more windy conditions. Would you do any trades or switch if you lived in a windier area or could travel and avoid that light wind?
Tucker: I would definitely nix the downwind board because you're not going to need it unless you want to do downwind, though you can downwind pretty well with your normal wingboard as well. I would also nix the 8m wing and swap those for another foil in something smaller. If I had a 990 Eagle, I would jump down to an 850 Skate, depending on what my bigger foil choice was. If I was heading somewhere with bigger waves, I'd definitely be looking at something even smaller than that. I'd go with a 4.2m and a 5.5m Mode Pro wing. That's going to cover me in a lot of wind, especially with a choice like a Mode Pro with such high end range.
Jeff: Those subtle adjustments make sense based on the wind and the wind range where you live. Tuck, you've been a big proponent of the growth of the sport. You were one of the early adopters at the shop when there wasn't a lot of gear out yet, and it's good to hear your perspective of where you would narrow your five choices since it's not easy when you've gotten used to riding on what you want and pairing it perfectly for the conditions.
Tucker: Well, a lot of times I'm not riding what I want; I'm just riding what I have to test. It's rare that I get to ride the stuff I really want to ride.
Jeff: That is a good point. It is something that we do so, when our customers call in, we can talk to them and have firsthand experience. We're not just reading about it or watching videos; we're actually on it, riding it, and testing it.
Tucker: It's fun; every time you go out, there's something new to explore and something new to learn. If you have any questions, we'd love to help you out.
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