Pics: James Jagger
Moving on from last issue’s One Design review we have another similar product that may initially be perceived as windsurfing specific. Yet all isn’t as it seems with Mistral’s own One Design sled: the Freebird 350.
When SUP first took off in modern guise, back around 2005, a good few peeps dug out their old school One Design windsurfing sleds for use with paddles. The length and efficiency of these boards was seen as a good way to get the SUP experience without shelling out. Fast forward to now and we appreciate there’s even more synergy between windsurf and stand up with many brands manufacturing sleds with specific sail carrying attachments, ala windSUP.
Mistral’s Freebird 350 is an EVO foam deck covered platform originally designed with sail power shenanigans in mind. Remove the centrally located daggerboard, however, and ditch the sail to find an efficient paddler that’s perfectly adept to sweeping bays, inlets and open waters. Also, you may discover its wave riding prowess, if you have the skills…
It’s true. The Freebird 350 does indeed make a fulfilling wave gliding machine. OK, you’re not going to be hacking full power cutbacks, bashing lips and gouging chunks, but for ‘hanglide’ wave sliding it’s fun and worth a look.
Dropping progressively into swells experienced riders will be able to set a rail and fly a decent lengths along clean open faces. Ridden off the tail there’s a surprising amount of manoeuvrability – even with the brand’s windsurfing orientated fin slotted in the box. There’s no end to the amount of smiles wide that’ll be spreading across your chops having had ridden further than you’ve ever done before on a wave. What’s surfing other than liquid wall sliding anyway? However you do this is all good.
Of course we can’t go without mentioning the windSUP characteristics of the Freebird 350. It doesn’t matter how light the wind if sail powered windSUP is your preference you’ll be sure to snag a session with this kit. Ramp up the breeze and the FB becomes an efficient cruiser that’ll also plane if you’re after lit up sailing. So with versatility in mind Mistral’s Freebird 350 will deliver on all manner of fronts.
A surprisingly adept small wave surfer/glider with the added advantage of converting to sail power Mistral’s Freebird 350 is an example of a toy fit for a variety of different tastes and styles. If you’re looking for one tool does all then this would suit. An effective paddler, with decent SUP performance makes it desirable for multi-activity families and budding water men and women everywhere.