For this first TotalWing Test, we were lucky enough to be able to try out the SIC Raptor Launch 5’8, a board made in France, in Vannes! This board, aimed more at beginners, is the sister board of the TAHE Aria 5’8, but in Ace-Tec Seamless construction. One size fits all in 110L and 5’8, SIC promises that this is the ideal board for getting started and progressing in wingfoil, while being built to last. Let’s find out! (Article original en français ici)
SIC Raptor Launch 5’8 – Specifications
- Max. recommended weight: 220 lbs / 100 kg
- Length: 5’8″ / 172.7 cm
- Width: 28.0″ / 71.1 cm
- Volume : 110 L
- Weight : 17 lbs / 7.7 kg
- Thickness : 5.2” / 13.3 cm
- Fin configuration : Double US box
- Product type : Rigid composite
- Technology : Ace-Tec
- Country of manufacture : France
- Price: 1099€
SIC Raptor Launch 5’8 – Construction
The SIC Raptor Lauch is a rigid, thermoformed Ace-Tec construction board you may have heard of back in the BIC days. Ace-Tec is a composite with a waterproof molded EPS foam core, which is wrapped in 200g/m² woven fiberglass, with reinforced patches for stress zones, and all covered with a highly protective thermoformed polymer skin (ASA). It’s a sturdy, rigid and shock-resistant construction.
To tell you the truth, I picked up this board on the SIC / TAHE stand at the Défi Wing. After several days of public exposure in the wind and sanding sand, the SIC Raptor Launch was given a trip of several hundred kilometers, without a cover, in the trunk of my car. I took it to my rather rocky spots without a cover, and for once, I really wasn’t afraid of damaging my board. Of course, I was still very careful with this SIC Raptor Launch, but there were no poc or scratches to report. You really get the feeling that this is a super-strong, robust and durable board.
Ace-Tec technology is traditionally accompanied by a joint all along the board’s outline, on the rails, which is the area where the upper and lower polymer skins meet. On the SIC Raptor Launch, there’s no joint! This is an Ace-Tec Seamless board, i.e., finished to the point where the seam completely disappears. Not bad for a board designed for beginners, since there’s no risk of snagging on it on a fall or scratching on it on the way back up. Just note that this is the only difference with the TAHE Aria 5’8, which is the same board but more economical, with the visible joint.
An added bonus in terms of construction is that the SIC Launch is Made In France, manufactured in Vannes! SIC promises that “Ace-Tec manufacturing is environmentally friendly with low energy consumption, includes recycling of all manufacturing off-cuts, and emits no polluting/toxic emissions. EPS cores are also manufactured on site and produce no waste during the manufacturing process.” In short, it’s all good stuff!
SIC Raptor Launch 5’8 – Equipment
The SIC Raptor Lauch features a large, thick and comfortable Diamond-Groove textured EVA pad. You’ll be able to spend time on it on your knees, whether learning or taking off. With good grip, it’s also easy to navigate strapless. This pad ends with a kicktail that can help you stand up. Given the board’s volume, it doesn’t generate any extra drag in the water, so it’s always a nice little bonus.
The board also features molded V-shaped footstrap inserts, but footstraps are not included. For beginners, you won’t necessarily need them anyway. SIC sells footstraps individually so that, as you progress, you can learn to wing strapped. The metal leash plug is also molded onto the deck.
The SIC Raptor Launch is equipped with a Double Rail US Box for connecting your foil. This box is rather long and ideally located under the rear foot. With the scale draw on the board, you can easily fine-tune your settings and find the one that’s right for you. Still on the hull, the Raptor Launch features a carrying handle, indispensable for a board of this size, and positioned in a rather balanced way.
SIC Raptor Launch 5’8 – Shape
The SIC Raptor Launch 5’8 has a rather classic, compact wingfoil shape. The board is wide and relatively short, with a square nose and tail. The rocker is nicely pronounced and the volume is more on the front to promote glide. The rails are straight, facilitating the directionality of the board, which will drift very little. On the hull, the extension of the rails is bevelled, allowing a smooth take-off without the board sticking to the water, and improving forgiveness in touchdowns. On deck, small side channels allow water to drain quickly. Overall, the SIC Raptor Launch, with its molded Ace-Tec construction, is a beautifully rounded board. All in all, a fairly classic shape, with no surprises, but effective!
SIC Raptor Launch 5’8 – Program
The SIC Raptor Launch has been designed to get everyone started. It’s a rigid board designed for beginners to progress in all conditions. It’s a “one-size-fits-all” board, 5’8″ long and 110L. SIC recommends a maximum rider weight of 100kg. A heavier rider, over 100kg, will still be able to use it if he’s already at an intermediate level. In my opinion, it’s more a question of minimum weight. The SIC Raptor Launch remains a rather heavy and cumbersome board (like all boards of this size), which would not be an asset for small riders under 60kg who would have difficulty to take-off or maneuvering it. So it’s not the ideal board for beginner children, except maybe for learning towing-foil or for a wing-SUP use. In my opinion, for complete beginners, the SIC Raptor Launch will suit sizes between 60 and 90kg. Depending on their skill level, heavier riders may also appreciate it.
With its 110L, the SIC Raptor Launch can also be the ideal board for light wind days. It floats, it glides, you’re flying in less than two seconds and, if the wind drops for good, it’s easy to return to land in archimedean fashion. Once you’ve progressed, you can keep it as a board to save your ultra-light sessions! The SIC Raptor Launch can also be used as a SUP foil. Indeed, with its gliding shape and generous volume, it’s the perfect board for SUP surf foil sessions, or even small downwind SUP foil sessions. In short, it’s the perfect board for a second life after your wingfoil debut!
SIC Raptor Launch 5’8 – Performance / stability
I imagine myself as a beginner climbing onto a wingfoil board for the first time. With the SIC Raptor Launch, everything goes smoothly. Voluminous and with a well-balanced volume distribution in its compact shape, the board is really very stable. It’s easy to get on, catch your wing on your knees and stand up, even when stationary. It’s a healthy board that gives you time to understand foot placement and wing handling without flying. It’s so easy for beginners to make their first archimedean runs, they’ll almost forget about the board. Thanks to its shape, its glide is really very good and fluid and a beginner will quickly get good feelings. The SIC Raptor Launch is directional and doesn’t drift, giving the rider time to build up speed and take off smoothly.
SIC Raptor Launch 5’8 – Performance / Takeoff
During my test with light to very light winds (8-12 knots) and the SIC Slash 1200cm² foil (review coming soon, by the way!), the SIC Raptor Launch had to be pumped to takeoff. Its glide is very good, there’s no drag, but it’s still a bulky board to get out of the water, which isn’t ideal for smaller or less dynamic riders. Nevertheless, in stronger winds and with a foil with a beginner-type frontwing (the 1500cm² or 2000cm² Flite from SIC, for example), with a larger-surface frontwing, there’s no doubt that take-off should be smooth and easy.
SIC Raptor Launch 5’8 – Performance / In flight
In flight, with the SIC Raptor Launch, you can ride chill, effortlessly. You can forget the board, so it’s easy for beginners to concentrate on their balance on the foil and their handling of the wing. Touchdowns are well tolerated and the board bounces back smoothly. It’s important for beginners to have a tolerant board, so as not to lose flight at the slightest mistake. Apart from that, the ride is good, you feel your foil and you feel in control. Nevertheless, you can feel the difference with the stiffness of a carbon board – but that’s something a beginner won’t feel. Although it’s not overly nervous, the main thing is that the SIC Raptor Launch reacts well to pressure to initiate maneuvers or course changes. When it comes to pumping, the board transmits movement well to the foil, but remains bulky enough to really pump effectively.
SIC Raptor Launch 5’8 – Performance / maneuverability
When it comes to maneuverability, let’s not forget that this is a 5’8 (172.7cm) long, 28″ (71.1cm) wide board. Don’t expect the mania of a freestyle board. Here too, the watchword is smoothness: you’ll take your turns smoothly, you’ll engage your transitions smoothly… In short, with the SIC Raptor Launch, you’ll be able to learn your maneuvers… smoothly! In fact, it’s the ideal board for it. There’s plenty of room for improvement on this board: you’ll have no problem using it to learn how to master jibes on both sides, as well as tacks.
All right, I’m exaggerating a little with this smoothness thing: let’s give the SIC Raptor Launch the benefit of the doubt, maybe with footstraps and for bigger sizes, there’s a way to get into more radical carving and turns, but let’s just say that’s not its primary program. Just know that with this board, you’ll be able to wing autonomously and easily take any course you want, no more, no less.
But be careful! Once again, for smaller sailors, it’s not ideal to master a board of these dimensions. For me, at 70kg equipped, it does the job, but I think that for those under 60kg, it’s starting to become a cumbersome and heavy board to ride. If SIC made a second version of this SIC Raptor Launch, with the same construction and shape but in 90L, for example, it would surely be the perfect addition to the range!
SIC Raptor Launch 5’8 – Verdict
The + :
- value for money
- robust construction
- easy to use
The – :
- one size fits all – so slightly reduced rider range (approx. 60-90kg)
The SIC Raptor Launch is a great board for beginners: stable, sturdy, comfortable… it’s got it all. It’s a board that would be ideal for sailing clubs, for lessons as well as for rental, in the same idea as all the BIC windsurf boards we still see in so many sailing centers from season to season. This board can be abused by complete beginners or over-enthusiastic children with no risk of breakage, and will last for many years.
For individuals, the SIC Raptor Launch is more of a family board: it will enable parents to discover wingfoil, to begin and progress, before introducing their children to the sport and perhaps even riding tandem together. It’s the ideal board to take on vacation, so everyone can enjoy it: family, friends, little cousins… everyone, even 100% beginners, will be able to try wingfoil (or wing-SUP mode) without risk to the gear.
The SIC Raptor Launch could also be the right board for a bigger rider. With its easy shape and generous volume, it’s a sturdy board that’s easy to ride, even in light conditions. Its biggest flaw, however, is its one-size-fits-all design. It’s a board that won’t suit everyone, or that you’ll have to part with after you’ve started out (or find a new use for, like SUP foiling for example)..
In short, SIC Maui has come up with a board that’s easy to use, robust and efficient in its program, and that could well open the doors of wingfoil to the general public.
Photos : GoPro Max 360 + Harness Mount Design // Leah Jeal