The International Raceboard Class, which has been in a gradual decline for many years because of the manufacturers’ reluctance to produce any longboards and because of their concentration on Formula and Hybrid boards, received a major shot in the arm with the appearance of the Starboard Phantom 380 in 2008. At last someone in the industry realised that the concept of the longboard, which probably reached a peak of technical development in the 1990’s, can provide more racing for a wider spectrum of ages, sizes and abilities in a wider range of conditions, both on the sea and inland, than anything else yet invented. A totally new board, the Starboard Phantom was embraced by longboarders who have been patching up their old Megacats, F2s and Mistral Equipe IIs for more years than they care to remember. The first Phantoms appeared in the UK in the late summer of 2008 and their owners soon started to learn how best to sail them and take advantage of their early planing characteristics and upwind capability. They have compared well with the old boards which are still around but remain competitive in the right hands.
Even the sailmakers have not been idle, Tushingham, whose 9.5 Lightning has been one of the favourite sails for Raceboard use have developed a new sail which is intended to compete at the bottom end of the wind range with the hard to catch Demons, whilst retaining the incredible flexibility and “get up and go” characteristics of the Lightning range. and Demon sails have continued to develop their unique designs.
The new boards and sails have received some stern testing at the hands of Raceboard heroes such as Rob Kent and Chris Gibson, and even Nik Baker has been involved, displaying some fantastic longboard skills in his role in the development of the Equipe III. (See photo above) However the Equipe III soon faded away and was not put into production, a great tragedy. 2012 saw the third incarnationo fthe Starboard Phantom, now with wings!
This new interest from manufacturers received a very favourable reaction from the UK longboard fraternity, and with assistance and co-operation from Tushingham who also import Starboard, and Demon Sails, a UK Raceboard Class Association has been formed under the chairmanship of Rob Kent, with LWA Chairman Paul Robinson as Secretary. The aim of the Association is of course to breathe new life into the Raceboard scene in the UK especially by encouraging and promoting the Class within the framework of the UKWA’s national and regional events. Particular targets for the new Association are youngsters who are graduating from the Techno fleet and need a board which they can sail both inland and on the sea, and former raceboarders whose kit is in the garage, but is still competitive.
Raceboard UK has its own website which is gradually being developed at http://www.raceboard.org.uk