Silver Bullet 64 Review (by Peter Hands)

Review by Peter Hands (VIC)

VERDICT - I'll be up front, I LOVE these boards, they do everything they promise and more - HUGE range, efficiency, comfort, HUGE fun, and plenty fast - within days of getting the 64 I grabbed the 72 as well.

ABOUT ME - 90kg, 56 yo, Melbourne based, often sailing on Port Phillip Bay - decent windsurfer but not the best out there - 41.48 knots average/44.2 peak on GPS rankings is credible but not incredible.

WHY I BOUGHT WINDTECH - I have been on iSonics for years, stunning kit but I'm tired of edgy, short-nosed slalom boards in the evil Port Phillip Bay chop (head high mess in only 20 knots of breeze, hence birthplace of Severne Fox boards), with the constant pounding and need for absolute concentration or else - I went for the Silver Bullets to have more fun on the many moderate wind days in Melbourne and elsewhere.

HISTORY - Neil Scheltema is Mr Windtech, the shaper who created uber-slalom boards "back in the day", very expensive, very hard to get hold of, VERY fast - he is a great innovator, and Neil is all about returning to the pure STOKE of windsurfing (rather than making everything about PWA podiums), with boards that deliver maximum smiles - he and his partner Matt Holder have developed 4 new designs, 2 flat water shapes and 2 wave shapes.

TEST CONDITIONS - have now sailed the Silver Bullets all over the place, from open ocean to pretty flat - including Port Phillip Bay, Jervis Bay, Sanctuary Point, Lake Illawarra and Swan River (Perth).

COMFORT - above all, these boards are EASY to sail - they excel in any water conditions, and handle the wildest chop/swell with comparative ease - I can sail for hours with 75% less fatigue, no BS! - no more need to take lots of recovery breaks on the beach.

EFFICIENCY - very early and easy planing, just bear away a touch and off she goes with minimal pumping - amazing through lulls, they just keep going, with the ability to stay semi-planing (like a 377 raceboard) long after my power-hungry iSonics would have thrown a tantrum and stalled.

FEATURES - the longer, narrower classic shapes breed the confidence to push as hard as you want - the ATT adjustable tail plate is no gimmick, it really changes the board's performance, even at a low flex setting it feels like Rolls Royce suspension, and settles the tail as you launch off the peaks into the next trough so you can go full throttle off the wind with remarkable control, then as the wind and chop increase just increase the flex - the deck shape means you sail high and dry, no more shooting spray/Velcro straps etc - the supplied footstraps are good quality.

SPEED - the Bullets are more than fast enough across the wind, and unleash massive speed off the wind - I have already cracked 30 knots on the 64 with a 7.0 moderately powered in wild Bay chop - 40 knots is definitely achievable on a speed course, especially if you modify the tail plate to reduce the wetted area.

ANGLES - you can get upwind easily, and I have sailed with Neil watching him get insane upwind angles with his prototype hybrid winged foil fins - then enjoy stunning high speed downwinders, at super deep angles.

GYBING - no need for big slalom board pressures through the back foot, just engage the rail and let the board track around naturally, and if you get it right you come out as fast as you went in - my gybing is not 100%, and I'm enjoying the easy, predictable gybe which allows me to focus on improving each part of my technique.

SAILS - SO versatile it's bizarre - use any sail you want, wave, freeride, freerace, and full-on slalom sails all work somehow - the 64 will take anything from about 5.0 to 9.0, the 72 anything from about 5.7 to 10.0 - it's hard to describe, but the boards work beautifully with low power sails for cruising around, as well as fully lit up with 4 cam race sails - and you can sail with about 0.5m less area than usual.

FINS - again, super versatile, and happily a tuttle box - use freeride, freerace or race fins, whatever suits your sailing style or mood - and you can go about 2cm smaller than you usually would.

RANGE - the Silver Bullets are about "flat" water blasting, up to 30 knot winds - plus days when it is too gusty/marginal for me to get out on small gear - plus open ocean sailing when you need the range/safety of more volume.

SECURITY - even at 90kg I can uphaul a 7.8 race sail on the 64 pretty easily, so these boards will get you home when the breeze dies without warning - they are WAY easier to shlogg home off the plane compared to your short and wide designs.

DURABILITY - Neil builds his boards to last- I talk to guys who still get out on their 90's WindTech carbon rockets - the Bullets come out of the Kinetic factory in Vietnam, and they demanded an even tougher build spec to avoid any warranty claims - the finish is impeccable, and they arrive ultra-packed.

PRICE - the Silver Bullets are very competitively priced - great value compared to A$4,000+ for slalom boards .

QUESTIONS - just contact Neil, he is really into windsurfing (even after 30+ years and '000s of boards) and will happily talk about the Silver Bullets and Magic Bullets, and about what you are trying to get from your windsurfing - how often do you get to chat to the shaper!

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