Fanatic Free Wave or Tri Wave 2014?

Fanatic have produced 2 amazing Tri-fin boards for 2014 but it makes us ask…….. Which one should I get?

I will try to help you make that choice.

I only have the chance to try the 85L Free wave and the 76L Tri Wave but I am light so I can use them both in the same wind. It is just that the photos do not show a true comparison to the widths, making it hard for you to see the subtle differences.


Free Wave 86L, Length 233 cm, Width 58.5 cm. (76L, Length 232 cm, Width 56 cm.)

Tri Wave 81L, Length 228 cm, Width 58 cm. (76L, Length 227 cm, Width 56 cm.)

You can see that the outline shapes are very similar. Even though the Free Wave is longer it has a more rounded outline.

From the front foot strap back the Tri Wave has a straighter outline. Under the back foot strap it is narrower.


You will notice the tail on the Tri Wave is thiner and has more tail kick. On the Free Wave the entry rocker is much flatter and the tail kick less, this board will be fast.


This may be graphic or colour but the Tri Wave seams to have a fuller nose.


It is hard to really make a comparison with the tails, being that the boards are different in volume but the tail is wider on the Free Wave.


Now in the underwater shape, you can see a big difference.

The Fee Wave has a much deeper concave ‘V’. I love this type of ‘V’ in a board, It gives you the advantage of a ‘V’. Easy rail to rail changes. Putting a concave in the ‘V’ gives you that fast acceleration and speed of a concave. So on the Tri Wave you see less ‘V’ and less concave, very subtle for that smooth changing of rails.

The ‘V’ on the Free Wave goes through the whole board where as the ‘V’ on the Tri wave only starts after the entry rocker.

‘A’ is at the back of the mast box where I place my mast foot.

On the Free Wave the ‘V’ and concave is quite pronounced. I have seen this in modern Free ride boards and they are so smooth in chop.

‘B’ is under the front foot strap. There is not so much of a difference, the ‘V’ concave is similar. In fact maybe the Tri Wave has slightly more concave, the Free Wave has more ‘V’. This is your drive area.

‘C’ is at the back of the side fin box.

The Tri Wave has a nice subtle ‘V’, just what you expect from a wave board. Nice.

The Free Wave, WOW! I have never seen such a ‘V’ or concave there before. Can’t wait to give this board some serious testing.

LOVE the concept.

What interesting boards and the concept to have 2 very different tri fins in the range. So I will post this and make a part 2 as I need to get better conditions and time to understand these boards more. I love both of these boards but my aim is to help you make the right choice.


I hope to come back very soon with my findings.

And they are up.

On the water fun has my findings but I am still working on it.

Here is my latest video for you to enjoy.

29 Responses to “Fanatic Free Wave or Tri Wave 2014?”

  1. great insight – im 86kg and sail in lightish conditions in UK (5.3 and 5.7 most used) – predominantly down the line…..and thinking of the 103 Tri wave as my light wind option and 89 quad when the wind is a little more juicy and the waves work better….whaddya think?

    • Hi Steve.
      Thanks for the question. I need more time on these boards to give you a definite answer (in fact I need true waves) but my gut feeling is a mix. Yes maybe 103 Tri Wave or 96 Free Wave. There is something about that deep ‘V’ concave on the FW at the back of the thruster fins, I have to try in bigger waves, it generates so much power when you start a turn with the back foot. A change in style again but more like the technique for the Quad. So send me some waves and I can give you an answer earlier ha ha ha. I hope they come soon.

  2. Hi again – well i bought the 103 and 89 as per above.

    Any thoughts on the mast foot, straps and fin positioning? (im 5’9 and 84kg).

    i tried the 103 yesterday and have a feeling the gap i setup between the front fins and the centre fin was too large…the whole board felt VERY slidey….K Teboul suggests 2 fingers eg 4-5cm. i think mine were more like 9cm apart. I will tweak and report back.

    • The classic setup by the boys is foot straps in Number 2 from the front, mast foot middle box and fins in the middle of the boxes which gives you 3 finger distance between the fins. They tested the boards so obviously placed there optimum position in the middle of the boxes so it gives them room for fine adjustment.

      I normally do the setup description when I do the on the water test. In the Club I have found when I set the fins maximum distance apart it gives best up wind performance, important for our location. My set up is front fins as far back as possible and center fin as far forwards. Giving me grip but still a very loose feel, I also use a smaller center fin giving a more surf board feel. With this setup I also run my mast foot back and front foot strap as far forward as possible. I am constantly finding fins and reshaping them, with the Free Wave I have found a power box fin that is right at the front of the box and reshaped it, bringing my cluster closer together. Fantastic.

      Bringing all of your fins back should give you a more direct feel and reduce that slidey feel. You can also try a larger spread on your foot straps. Another thing to bare in mind is the board angle in your turns, to make the side fins work you must really dig the rails in. The flatter the board is the more slide you will get, so bottom turn cut back must be rail to rail to get a crisp feel.

      Have fun playing with all the different settings.

  3. Also waiting impatiantly for your findings. Want to buy a new waveboard for lighter as well gustier conditions (travel board for different destinations worldwide – almost each year I fly to Fuerte or Lanzarote sometimes Cabo Verde or different destinations). Hesitating between quad 89l and tri 95l. My weight is 80 kg. Wchich one (or maybe another one) would be better for light wind and to use possible small sail in gusty wind (for waves of course – also big enough to try your trim setup). I’m used to twins (have 78l) and quads as well. I would like to know your opinion.

    • Hi ARthur the reply is up, if you want to stay with pure wave I have to say the Quad 89L. I have tested the 2014 82L and mine is 2013 75L, if I would choose another quad I would go for the 69L. Instead I have chosen the Free Wave 85L as my one board option. This year just 1 board to go with my 1 sail, Fantastic Concept.

  4. Thank you for immidate answer. So I’m convinced to order a FQ89l. A little bit jelous for yours all to do “magic carpet”, I gues that the sail is 3.7 from photos. What you suggest if I will seek such a combo in future for my 80 kg. I was using a goya 105 X Air (2008) with 4.5 many times in Las Cucharas, but found it to wide(65) and tail voluminous for frontside riding at los charcos. At 85 l it’s some 20 above your weight, I think, but know it does not have to be a linear function. Once more thanks for an advice.

  5. Hi there. I am just trying to decide between the 96Freewave and the 95 Triwave as a light wing waveboard. Have you an opinion of the difference between the two yet?



    • Hi Steve, thanks for your question. I think the second section “on the water fun” will help you decide. In light wind if the wave still has power you can use the Tri Wave but if it is soft the Free Wave is much better.

  6. Thanks Mr Hobbit. You have good insight. I am leaning towards the Triwave as i am only 75Kg and think it will be fast enough. However because we have the best waves here when it is offshore and light, I can’t shake off the idea that the early planing of the Freewave might make more difference to catching the waves than the Triwave will when i am on them. The waves are usually small here when it is cross off. I have resigned myself to also having another board for when it is windy and onshore but because I am not very skilled i need the board that is going to enable me to make the most progress in the lighter wind.

    Thanks again, great site.


    • Hi Steve.
      I have been giving this a bit of thought and maybe the 95 Triwave could be the better solution for you for riding waves. The underwater shape is a bit more subtle, making it a bit less technical in some ways to ride waves. The power ‘V’ on the Freewave is fantastic but you do need more commitment in the turns. The Triwave also has a US box, so giving you more options for fin placement and size.

  7. Hi Russel,
    i am touched that you have been considering my problem, (although it is not really that big an issue i suspect). I have pretty much convinced myself that i need the Freewave 96 because of its speed. I do fall off a lot when i get tired and learning to light wind tack and gybe so I can stay on the board is one of my goals. I suffer the most when it is difficult to get out past the shore break, and being able to beat upwind to line up the waves is key for me I think. It is a difficult decision though. One thing that sticks in my mind is that i have tried the 81 Triwave and it is very easy to sail and particularly easy to gybe, so maybe you are right and all i need if the bigger version.
    Thanks again for your help and i hope you have a good year in 2014
    best wishes


  8. I am 72kg and undecided btw 86 and 81. I do not do waves but sail in high winds regularly in San francisco with occasionaal big swell. My target is a board that can hold 4.3 overpowered to 6.0, with 90% of use on 4.3-5.0. My only hesitation is that the 86 fsw might be too big in 4.3 conditions, and the 81 freewave might be more confortable there. Suggestions? An 80 fsw would be probably ideal but it is not in the lineup …

    • You probably realize that I am small but the board I will be using this year is the 86L. The more I use it the more I like it especially in the waves. In single fin, freestyle mode, well 86L is a small freestyle board. I am Ok on this board up to 30 knots, above that I must admit it is a bit of a handful in waves, but as long as I am going fast enough, no problem.

      The various foot strap positions does allow you to tune the board for different riding conditions and in the outboard settings it does make a great bump & jump board, choosing the correct fin, overpowered on a 4.3, blasting should not be a problem.

      A 6m on 86L I think is a bit big for optimum balance but it does work, 81L it would definitely be to big.

  9. For what it is worth I am 74kg and have sailed the Triwave 81L with a North Hero 5.6 for light wind wave sailing. I think Russel is right that for fully powered up a 6m would be too much, but for the 5.0 it is a dream. V easy to gybe and without drama. I sailed the old Freewave single fin 86L a lot and as long as you went down in fin size as it go windier it was OK and with the new 3 fin option it will be even better. If you are not sailing in the waves I would suspect the Freewave would be your choice and that the small amount of extra volume will probably allow you to use a smaller sail anyway. Russel will know though because sails a lot.

  10. Thank you for the replies. I’ll get the 86 fsw. Another advantage is that with the power box will be easy to put on a 26-28 single, and the 6.0 should work very nicely.

  11. Hi Mr Hobbit, i have bought the Freewave 106 2014 and have a weight of 92 kg. I am looking for a thruster setup but I don´t know which size is best?
    Thank you in advance for your help
    Best regards Jan

    • Hi Jan.
      Setting up the tri option on the 106L or any other volume, you must think of what you want the tri to do and how you sail.
      Think about how you sail with your back foot, if you place a lot of pressure while sailing you will need a larger back fin. so try just getting some small 8 cm side fins to go with the standard fin.
      If you would like a true tri fin set up, you could also go for say 14.5 side and a 15.5 back.
      Another option is 25cm back and 9cm side, a little bit more classical.
      There are so many options, without studying your technique it is very hard to say which way you should go.
      Remember different manufacturer offer different ideas.

      The most important is think how you sail!

  12. HI Russel, have you tried a true tri fin set up on your 86?. I was thinking of it but having moved the thrusters much nearer the back and the result bein an even smaller turning circle i was wondering if it was worth it.

    • Hi Steve.
      I tried using 10cm on the side and 14.5cm on the back, with the side fins as far back as they could go.
      In small waves and light wind it was a lot of fun. The board is very loose. I could feel the extra lift/grip from the side fins in the bottom turn.
      Once the wave was bigger where you have more speed for my weight I found the lift to be to much.
      In stronger wind where it was more choppy I also found the 14.5cm at the back was to small, sailing straight..
      However if you have the weight to hold the lift in the side fins I think running 3 x 14.5 would work. The extra grip from the 14.5 cm side fins would compensate for the 14.5 cm back. For straight sailing I would have no problem, only in the bottom turn.
      My normal setup is 9cm side, 16.5cm back. (Maui Ultra Fins X-Twin X-Quad)

  13. Cool, thanks Russel.
    Interestingly for our local light cross off wind i have been using a 21cm MFC freewave centre fin and two 10s on the sides. This is to get more speed to get on the wave and it seems to work OK because the turns are long. When it gets windier, and this is mostly combined with cross on winds, I go down to 19cm for the back fin but do not go up on the sides. For me it seems more important how far back you move your back hand for the turn. I am I am about 77-78kg in a winter wetsuit and use a Freewave 96 with standard MFC issue red fins. The 96 comes with 12cm thrusters and a 19cm centre fin as standard. I am saving up for an 18cm centre to try with 11’s or 12’s on the sides. Too cold here for sailing at the moment though…

  14. Hi Russel,
    Heading out to see you again in July! Hope you are ok! But…….big 50 coming up this month and understandably my wife wants to buy me a new board. Currently love the fanatic freestyle wave TE 2013 85L. Thinking of replacing my big board option – 98 L FSW JP antique for either 96L Freestyle Wave Textreme or 106L FWS. I never sail with more than 6.2m sail and only weigh around 68ks. What would you recommend? Jo

  15. I can add a little experience that might help. I am now well over 50 and about 75Kg and have an 81L Triwave and a 2014 96L Freewave. I now never use the smaller board and will be selling it. For me now the 96L Freewave is truly an all round board. When it is windy i just use a 4.5 Hero which is super flexible and for drift and drop still only a 5.0
    For just playing in the flatter stuff a 5.8 Hero makes the board sing. (If it is windy enough to need a 4.0 I mostly stay ashore to save my aging body).
    In life it is hard to recommend stuff to other people because everyone’s needs are different, but it is impossible not to be super impressed with this board. A note of caution though, the Textreme option is more fragile on the bottom and very difficult to repair and only the major difference will be when carrying the board to the water.
    Russel is right about the fins, I go up and down sizes on the centre fin, and mostly use one size smaller (11cm) on the sides, right in the middle of the box. Hope this helps. Steve.

  16. Thanks Russel and Steve, great advice! 96L Freestyle Wave it is! Cheers Jo

  17. Anyone have any advice on which board i should get? I am 103 kilos(tall not fat…. 🙂 ) and was thinking of the tri-wave 99 or the 106 freewave. which board would i have more fun on to replace my aging goya wave board for those windier days with my 5.3 or 5.7. i will mostly be sailing in onshore conditions with chop and small waves.

    • Interesting question and my gut feeling is 106 Free Wave. A friend is about your weight and very tall, his go to board is the 106 Free Wave Textreme with his 5.8 Hero. (His biggest sail, before it was 6.4m but we have been working a lot on light wind technique.) Andy Heath is one of those lucky guys, he can sail both tacks, forward loops 100% both tacks, back loop on starboard needs a bit of work. Wave riding, well you see no difference. He has the Quad 94 for ridding when it is epic, but he never uses it. If he has to go down to a 95L with his 4.7m. Well he prefers to use his old 95L Free Wave single fin. To tell you the truth, it has to be incredibly windy for him to use a 4.7m.

      It is hard for me to give advice for bigger people as I am 1.5m and 56 Kg. Giving personal coaching is another matter.

      • Thanks for your detailed reply 🙂 I am not sure how tall your friend is but if he is a bit over 2 meters and weighs around 103k I would love to have a chat with him. So now I will be looking into the Textreme version of the Free Wave, which is adding more to my confusion and digging deeper into the pocket. I haven’t sailed for the past couple years and now that I started again after 4-5 years everything changed and it is just confusing! Quad’s, Thrusters, boards that can fit in a tiny car, and the list goes on. I am just going to go for the freewave since it is so popular and hope I made the right choice.
        Thanks again for helping!!

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