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The AXIS ART caused a bit of a stir on initial release with its blend of speed and glide, perhaps the pick of the first swathe of true high-aspect ratio foils. Two years in development, the ART PRO is the range set to supersede it, and AXIS sent out a pre-release ART PRO 1201 (denoting its span in mm) for us to test. AXIS state it sits between the HPS 1050 and PNG 1300 somewhere, and having back-to-back tested all of these foils extensively we’d definitely agree that this claim is on the money.
The original ART 1099 was a solid performer, with extremely high glide levels and a generally efficient feel. The 1201 sits slightly above this in terms of size, with it clocking in at a projected area of 1291cm2 instead of 1142cm2, and 10cm more span give or take a couple of mm. Whilst the 1099 was no slouch in the early lift department, the 1201 slides up onto foil a little earlier and significantly more smoothly. In fact the general stall characteristics are very mellow and predictable compared to the 1099 and its speed range and sweet spot seem massively enhanced.
Physically you can see the evolution clearly from the previous series – the light twist in wingtips of the original ART has been removed, improving breach capability. A completely straight median line has been implemented across the full span, notably increasing predictability of handling. The tips look to be a little more tapered at the end with less chord and a more symmetrical shape fore and aft. The advanced fuse is an absolute must with the ART PRO, with the geometry shrinking turning radiuses and livening up the experience.
Winging the 1201 was a bit of a revelation, particularly when paired with a downwind board, building fast surface speed and allowing the foil to lift within its stable speed range. With the 360 skinny stabilizer plugged in, this was a lively and entertaining light wind setup which makes the relatively high span feel manageable. Where we’d usually default to the PNG 1300 for absolute marginal low-end domination, this required a smidgen more wind to get going, but once on foil the increased speed and apparent wind made for a far more fun session and much shorter turning radiuses. Heavier wingers using this in more positive conditions will really benefit from the glide and speed increases over the legacy ranges. The feeling of efficiency is both addictive and accessible.
With a pocket board, the 1201’s pumping ability is absolutely ridiculous. Even with my (mediocre at best) pumping technique, I could easily clear 200-300m and the quick short and sharp cadence required was easy to dial into. The wide span really helps control your direction, and even if your body movements are a little off center, it’s forgiving and easy to rectify. We also popped a larger progressive stabilizer on for this experiment, which seemed to give a little more forward thrust through the pump and allow you to dig yourself out of the hole if necessary.
We also had the pleasure of taking the 1201 towing in a foot of fairly fast but unbreaking swell. This was very good fun, linking the tiniest of glassy lumps with the bare minimum of pumping required. The efficiency really felt next level here, and with a bit of skill on the wave positioning, you can access some other worldly glide in the most innocuous conditions. It’s a foil which seems to accelerate well out of the turns. Whipping into normally inaccessible banks of energy has never felt so fun.
For the prone crew, this is without a doubt going to be an absolute weapon in small conditions, and a definite cheat code in terms of pumping and linking waves. We think, particularly when paired with the skinny tails, the 1201 will satisfy someone looking for a highly nimble and accurate feeling small wave setup.
For downwinding, as long as you have the required skill level to get the 1201 up on foil, that incredible level of gliding efficiency and turning ability is going to unlock a lot more speed and carving to your session.
It’s clear AXIS have made a good job of taking on board user feedback on the previous ART system, and the increase of usability and performance for the average rider is a win in all respects. The ART PRO is a significant upgrade. It initiates turns far more eagerly in the roll AXIS, it’s far more stable on tip breaches, and for a foil with so much span feels incredibly agile. We can’t wait to get a spin on the smaller sizes as, if the 1201 is anything to go by, these are going to be extremely performant across disciplines.