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Appletree Apple Skipper Downwind

The explosion of SUP foil downwinding has, by now, captured the attention of most of the foil world and influenced board design on all fronts with the revelation to the market of how great these shapes are as light wind wing boards. No stranger to innovation in board design, Appletree Surfboards have been making high quality foil boards since the dawn of mainstream foiling and have recently updated their Apple Skipper downwind board.

The Apple Skipper Downwind is part of the wider Skipper family of boards (prone and wing models) whose designs are optimized for those wanting to push their riding and to maximize the boards ability to ‘skip’ off the water. The construction is renowned for its durability thanks to Appletree’s proprietary vacuum infusion and closed cell foam which ensures their boards are not only solid, but durable and sustainable. Longer boxes (made in house) have been installed with the deck and boxes set parallel to allow for maximum compatibility with as many foil brands as possible and a simple thin EVA deck pad rounds off the board. As the Skipper range has been out for while, and with the rate of change in DW board design, the DW model has undergone a small update recently. The bottom retains a similar subtle V hull but has been softened up and transitions to a slightly rounder displacement hull to allow for better glide, even in choppier waters. The outline has been revised with a more pulled in nose and tail and a smoother continuous rocker line in the front complements the rounder hull. The tail also gains some rocker to aid popping up on foil and pulls into a more pronounced point than the previous model which helps to shed the water.

The Apple Skipper Downwind is available in both wide and narrow options across each length on offer to cater for different ability levels and volume requirements though it should be noted that custom options are also available on request. For this test we tested the 7’7 x 20” x 5.4” 110L (rider weight 79kg), primarily SUP foil downwinding.

The first question anyone asks about a downwind board is ‘how stable is it?’. The Appletree is more stable than expected despite the rounder hull. The next question is normally ‘how well does it paddle straight?’. The Skipper, thanks to the combination of length, pulled in tail and also the subtle V in the front tracks very well, allowing you to paddle straight without problems. The softer rails up front mean the board does not catch side chop, allowing you to keep your course in messier conditions and the rounder hull allows you to generate speed easily when trying to paddle up on foil.

Popping the board up on to foil, be it in waves, flat water or paddling up in the bumps, the board glides well thanks to the displacement hull which allows you to accelerate easily. On foil, the main thing that stands out is its responsiveness. The board is extremely stiff (not surprising considering the reputation of Appletree’s construction) but the main thing that contributes to this feeling is its thickness (or rather ‘thinness’, if that’s even a word) which really helps have a direct and connected feel with the mast, something that can often feel dampened on thicker boards. Whether just foiling, pumping or turning, everything is direct which encourages you to ride with confidence. The more pulled in outline gives more clearance for you to push turns further and harder, though if you do touch down, as with the rest of the Skipper range, it's not really an issue as the board bounces right back up without sticking or grabbing to the water. The same goes for tail touchdowns and the added subtle tail rocker also gives slightly more clearance when pumping and turning.

The Apple Skipper Downwind is a fantastic SUP foil downwind board for those looking for a well-built, sustainable and responsive DW board that caters for all levels thanks to the range of sizes on offer, and will last through the various stages of progression thanks to its ease of use and durability (something that will also appeal to those who travel a lot with their gear).

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