F-ONE’s long established kite-specific surfboard range has always been at the forefront of the sport, setting trends and helping point the evolutionary direction of the wave riding genre. The Shadow differentiates itself against the current F-ONE range as perhaps the most traditional surfboard shape, with a distinctive and classic rounded pintail designed for high speed performance surfing.
Construction-wise, it is an HD foam flex composite, which seems to do a great job balancing the fine line between flex and strength characteristics. In ride feel, it’s fairly close in flex to a traditional surfboard and doesn’t have that heavy and slightly dead feeling which some epoxy boards can suffer from. Shape-wise, it’s sporting some exceptionally elegant curves, holding most of the volume in the mid-section under the front foot with it thinning out towards the rear of the board. The rail shape is rounded over the first half of the board, and then gently shifts itself into a hard flatter base angle as you work your way down to the tail. It’s a set thruster fin setup with Futures boxes, and the 21.4 liter 5’6 we were provided with came with some medium size fins, which felt super stiff and grippy. It weighs in at a smidge over 3kg.
The EVA pad is an often-overlooked item on a kitesurf board, but F-ONE as usual have been sticklers for detail. Under the front foot the deck has been recessed 5mm to allow for an extra layer of shock absorption. You can really feel this when you first hop on, and it helps reduce fatigue in choppy water states. The grip is a fine corduroy texture and adds a further feeling of comfortable refinement. The front of the deck pad also has the foot-locating bump found on the MITU Pro model. Foot strap inserts are also present, which is a logical step for a board that can handle so much speed, and will open the board up to a wider audience.
Even for a fairly tall 90kg rider, the 5’6 didn’t feel too small. The ample width of the board in its mid-section, and efficient flat release of water at the tail from the rail shape, means it likes to ride fast and importantly maintains speed well. Much like its outline, it likes to make long drawn out elegant carves and seems to encourage a smooth and controlled high G-force vertical top turn rather than slashy riding style. The fin and tail combo fins promote a high level of grip and plenty of control when riding fast. It takes a little more effort to release the fins for a tail slide, but when it does, it’s all the more dramatic for it. It feels genuinely lively underfoot, and provides a decent amount of feedback.
The Shadow is a beautifully proportioned and comfortable to use precision tool that works alarmingly well in almost all wave situations. It handles speed exceptionally well, regardless of whether that’s screaming fast set piece point break or horrific onshore Euro storm swell; it’s got the mobility to get you where you want to be on the face with little effort, and when you hit the lip the speed it can carry through the turning radius makes for an ultra-satisfying top turn. It’s perhaps the most universal board in the F-ONE range and will please a wide audience of wave aficionados in both ability and styles.