The experience 165 is everything T1 claims to be. Changing slightly Thommen’s motto, it is a “one family – one board”
For the past 7 years during summer vacations, my son Giorgos was getting up in the afternoon, missing the windy hours. He has grown up and weighting 65kg is no longer at ease on my ~100l boards he used to train as a child. He therefore asked me to give him a bigger board that he could tack & lift the sail comfortably.
At the end of last season, upon purchase of the board, we took it down to Shinias,in the Marathon bay to the NE coast of Athens, at the friendly beach & water activities center Karavi , owned and run by the Maniatis family.
I first tried the board with the straps placed to the front, but soon realized, that in all conditions except from full blasting the Eva soft deck was totally supportive & anti-slip, while the straps should be positioned to the far rear/outside positions for serious speed sailing.
Not having more nice weather (yes we are spoiled), we decided to leave the full test for the new season, so here it is.
Although the board is not heavy for its size (12.1kg with footstraps & fin fitted), it is not easy to get it to the water and out rigged, especially on a windy day, and even unrigged, no matter how helpful is the carrying deck opening, there is always some risk for minor damage, as the usual heavyweight/reinforced construction of this category was not adopted by T1. As a result you have a more agile, attractively different board, that is more prone to dings. Here are the scars at the end of our test, despite the care we took:
The looks as stated above is great for my taste, but upon close examination I felt it lacked the attention I would like .
The graphics on the tail are off-balance, the cut-out of the EVA soft deck near the valve is not symmetrical, while some brown glue spoil the white soft material. Finally, the lacquered surface of the wood is not as smooth as to be perfect.
The fin proved adequate in all conditions, except the combination of a heavy rider & the racy cambered 8.2 sail.
Instead of the 35 specs indicated fin, our board was delivered with a much smaller , hardly 28 one, which upon contact with T1, I was assured it is the correct size and I have no reason to disagree – In addition I can only praise the hull design that was capable of great upwind sailing, something that boards of similar displacement would match using almost double our fin size, rendering these boards inappropriate for shallow water training and beach starts.
On the training level, Nina (49 kg) demanded to sail on the eXperience, instead of one of the usual training boards, not caring about the extra volume & the greater lateral stability they were offering. She did fine (and in style), reintroducing herself to windsurfing after a 15 years gap since her first sailings.
I (70 kg) sailed the board with 4,7 – 5,7 – 6 & 7.4 sails, in small chop, big chop and waves up to 1.5m and I was greatly impressed by the comfortable ride and speed, while after you get used to the size, jumping is possible – elders may remember long boards on the jump back in the ‘80’s (I promise a jumping photo of the eXperience 165 next time a photographer is around under the right conditions.
I did not manage to jibe it on tight radius, but George (Tigana) Moustakis (75 kg), as more experienced did it and I took the pictures. George also commented how handy this large board feels and how nicely it absorbs the chop.
Our most heavy tester M (87 kg), owner of many boards including a 2.80m, 162L course race large F2 Thommen, had a nice ride using a 7.3 Natural North sail and at the end praised the board as a very interesting one.
I belive it is the most interesting intermediate level proposition on the market at the moment, and even I would choose it to surf in unknown conditions areas, in spots with frequent lulls, or for days I would like to sail without worries – no matter the wind fluctuations.
I look forward to try the upcoming small version eXperience 125 which will be available in 2014. It may be the true definition of Thommen’s “one man – one board”.