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It’s indicative of a maturing industry when brands like AK Durable Supply Co are onto their third iteration of the Tracer, which has historically been their well-received mid-aspect offering. Based in Muizenberg and with R&D centered around the often prime conditions of the Cape Peninsula in South Africa, it’s a perfect proving ground for foils that can handle themselves when the sea states are a little more spicy. This year it’s a ground-up redesign, and quite a departure from the previous system.
Out of the box we’re looking at a relatively swept design from the front wing with an ultra-smooth monobloc junction into the fuselage minimizing thickness and potential drag points at this critical area. Examining the front wing nose on, there’s a subtle gul wing either side of the central spine. Running a straight edge along the underside, a gentle concave runs along the trailing edge which fades to flat at the wingtip. Perhaps just over half of the total fuselage length is integrated into the front wing, so it remains a practical system to travel with and store. Behind the deeply recessed mast socket, the aluminum fuselage slots on to form the plane set, held with two neatly recessed 12mm M6 Torx bolts. The Stealth fuselage has a sturdy rectangular connection AK have coined the Taperlock, which slots very neatly inside a socket in the back of the front wing behind the mast with admirably fine manufacturing tolerances. It’s as clean as the proverbial hydrodynamic whistle.
The G10 200 tail wing sits top mounted on the fuse and has a range of pitch adjustability so you can trim your ride to your taste. We found it sat well at about 75% back, offering a balanced top end without any hint of overbearing front foot pressure. As a shape, it’s a complementary mid-aspect design with a relatively thin, purposeful looking profile and gently upturned wing tips.
We tested the mid-size 31.5cm Stealth fuselage, which leant itself to a decent blend of maneuverability and offered great balanced pitch stability for faster arcing power turns on more open wave faces. We’re reliably informed that the shorter 26.5cm fuse shortens up these turn radiuses a little for prone use, and with the innate pitch stability in the system, we can’t see it compromising the secure feeling of the ride a great deal.
The mast is an impressive work of carbon sculpture, and AK have opted for a hollow design. Our vernier calipers inform us that it tapers from around 15mm at the top down to 13.5mm towards the fuselage join. In practice it offers a great blend of stiffness and has a feeling of silky efficiency through the water. The all-important mast-to-fuse connection has a deep tapered recess into the fuselage and clamps itself together with two sturdy M8 Torx bolts. Domed Torx bolts and washers hold the board base plate with a sturdy open-toe design and flat bolt recesses with plenty of meat on the carbon at this equally important connection point.
Riding the new Tracer was easy to dial in and required little retraining; you’re immediately rewarded with a great balance of speed range and eager roll characteristics. It’s a foil that likes to ride fast, and make hard carving power turns where it feels extremely competent and composed at speed. Where other foils can falter or feel a little squirrelly at the top of their range, the Tracer plants a confident rapid big arc on without having to concentrate too much. It provides a lot of mobility on a wide open-faced wave and allows you to cover plenty of ground quickly and confidently. If you need to run around a section and batter the shoulder, it’s got the speed range to do so. It’s a foil where you can almost envisage the conditions it’s been developed in just by riding it. Glide and carry are impressive; it picks up a wave eagerly and feels efficient, maintaining speed well. The taper out into the tips gives it excellent mobility in the roll axis and with the excellent stiffness in the system you have the feeling you’re riding a precision instrument, particularly when combined with a high-end carbon board.
The Tracer V3 is a massive step up from AK, setting itself at a firm eye level with various cross brand favorites, and is pitched at a very attractive price point for such a performant and accessible foil. It lets you attack a wave face with surgical precision and extreme confidence, and transcends surf and wind-driven disciplines elegantly.