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For their Y26 season, long established Italian windsports brand RRD are well and truly committed to the wingsurf phenomenon and have developed a comprehensive line up of wings and boards. The Beluga 160 is their mid-size wingsurf-specific board, packing 75 liters into a futuristic 5’2 compact shape. In this particular size, the board is available in RRD’s LTE construction which feels like a sturdy balance between strength and weight. It’s aimed at more advanced or lighter weight wingsurf aficionados and for me sits as a 15kg sub bodyweight sinker board, ideal for stepping up from full flotation board without going too small. All that litreage in such a short package also means there’s an obvious crossover potential for novice prone foiling. There is also a bigger brother in the range, the 170, which sits at 105L and comes in LTE as well as E-Tech construction, with a windsurf convertible option.
In the hands, the Beluga 160 has a fairly radical shape with some pronounced curves. A deep double concave with generous spine gradually smooths itself out as it graduates towards the foil box. The box has quite a cut out surrounding it, making it protrude from the stepped tail of the board, and which appears aggressively designed to encourage early release. Its length to width ratio looks aimed towards hiding as much volume in that 160cm length as possible. The beveled rails extend your deck area and give you a larger platform to work with. The deck is a dug out concave affair which gets you closer to the foil and less perched on top. The carry handle is located in the hull of the board just in front of the foil box and balances with the foil attached, making your entry to the water that little bit easier.
In the water it’s immediately apparent why RRD named the Beluga after the friendly faced Arctic mammal. Although a small board dimensionally, it’s very accessible, particularly for someone moving to their first sinker. The business end of the 5’2 is gently curved and comfortable to handle. The deep concave deck makes it easy to feel your position for a sub-surface knee start, as the board seems to hug your knees. Its generous width means you also have some decent roll stability, particularly if paired with a longer mast. Getting to your feet is simple as you can feel around for the bottom of the concave without looking down at the board.
Once planing on the surface, release is relatively quick as long as you have the wind, and the lack of swing weight makes it feel instantly nimble and responsive. The minimal dimensions and lack of length mean there’s little windage, and the feel of the hydrofoil is transferred well into the board, and we tested a few different rigs on it. There’s no riding body weight back on the board to compensate for extra nose mass here, and you can adjust your pitch quickly with little effort. Banking around on the foil, the deep deck concave comes into its own, and you can noticeably lean into your turns a little more. Coming in hot after a breach, all those concaves do their job and disperse the water well.
Much like its namesake, the Beluga 160 is a graceful creature, and provides 75 liters of pure joy for more advanced wing foilers who want a minimal, and potentially sub body weight board with plenty of practical features built in.