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JP SLW vs SB US - big FreeRide or MiniFormula ?

The JP SLW is the JP Super Light Wind and the SB US is the StarBoard Ultrasonic.

The SLW now comes in 2 widths - 90 and 92. The models are called JP SLW90 and SLW92.
The SB US is known as the US 147 since it is 147 liters...

(This discussion was started in 2012-2013 around when I purchased a JP SLW92. Since then, in 2017,  the SB US barely changed -- 241x95 and still 147 liters and the JP SLW has only the JP SLW92 , but is now 235x92 with 165 liters)

May as well compare specifications/specs right away ...

the JP SLW92 OFO/one foot off - is 72 cm as measured by yours truly - means it can handle a 70 cm Formula fin!

So, what are these boards all about?
They seem wider than the large free-ride or slalom boards and yet NOT as wide as a formula board.
Starboard Formula boards are 100 cm wide and 228 cm long ...
So, these boards are narrower and longer than Formula boards ...
They are wider and  shorter than longboards.
They are wider and about the same in length as the larger free-ride boards.
Tinho Dornellas of Calema in Florida feels they are NOT long enough to be gliders in light wind...,
They are early planers and fast boards in a range of about 10 to 20 knots - depending on weight...
René of auventfou in Montreal says he planes in 8 knots with the JP SLW92 and a 10-oh sail !!
They are large wider free-ride boards that plane as early as a Formula board  ...
And as such require larger fins and sails, butt NOT to the extent of a Formula...
Fins are smaller than Formula, can plane early without too much pumping and gybe easier..
Planche-Mag called the SB US a mini-Formula ...

As written in Auzzie forum:  
If you are focused on SPEED in light winds then an XL slalom board is probably the go.

The JPs have improved their fins - they were considered too soft at first.
The SLW92 was introduced later with a little more length and supposed to be "easier".
Yet people have clocked 30+ knots on it...
As Rik of rikswindsurfing says:
There is definitely no need to spend out on an additional fin to get some good use from this board

Here is a JP SLW from the JP site:

The SB is listed as a free-race. Many people really love it as a light wind blaster. It is shorter than the JP and just a little bit wider.

Here is a SB US from the SB site:
In early comparisons the SB US won out during the windsurfing magazine tests. This seems to have been mostly due to the poorly supplied fin on the JP - at that time....  At yet the discussions said - which planes first ? don't ask, just get one and plane :-)

Perhaps the SB US is a little faster. As i already stated, it is also a little shorter. This means it is okay for fast tacks, but NOT for longboard style tacks. The JP SLW92 should be a little more forgiving in this category since it is 10 cm longer. Both jibe well, as we can see in the photos :-) In the JP foto he has not even stepped all the way across.

They are very similiar boards: in width, length, volume, have cutouts, similiar cost, etc.
Both seem to have suggestions about having racing decks - comfortable to go fast it seems ..
One may be slightly faster than the other, butt by how much ??

Let's see if we can find some videos - from the suppliers first...

 And from Starboard:

Based on what the suppliers have posted, JP is selling early light wind planing - as the name SuperLightWind implies and Starboard is selling speed - as the name UltraSonic implies. I was somewhat surprised and disappointed that i did not find a video where Tiesda You describes all the details of the SB board - as he did with the iSonics ... Remi Villa speaks about the US in their race boards discussion- where he discusses other freerace/race boards like the Futura and the iSonics - >

Most free-riders in the area, including myself, do not get too excited about going out on the water until the wind hits 15 to 16 knots. And even then, as a heavyweight of 100 kilos, I am going out with a 160 liter board and 8.x race sail . Auzzie forum says 16 to 20 knot winds should only require a 6.5 - even with my weight. Are they implying i should be able to plane in 12 knots with my 160 and 8.x ?? In 12 knots i have planed on my 160, butt i was using a 10-oh race sail. So, how early planing are these mini-Formulas/ extra-wide free-riders ?? An 87 kilo rider says that in 8 to 14 knot winds he was planing all the time with a 64 cm soft fin and 10.9 sail.

These boards are what i call FreeFormula. That type of board was around from 2000 to 2004. Mine is a BIC Techno Formula/BTF of 94 cm and longer at 267 cm. With my weight it planes up easily in 10 knot winds using a TR-4 10-oh race sail. So, I can assume the JP SLW and SB US would do the same for someone like myself.

What people like about these boards is the fins are a little shorter, footstraps are not as far out, gybes are not as difficult when one compares to Formula. However, a Formula rider explains that in a race the Formula will win - except on a reach - as in the SB video earlier. In such light winds should one be concerned which one is faster by a knot or two ?? In my case - NON ! It has to be about FUN and TOW/time on water. That was why i purchased the BTF in the first place. When 20 kph/10 knot winds are announced, I can go and plane !!

For me the big question is - if my BTF ever dies or gets stolen - heaven forbid, which one would i choose ?? Everyone keeps telling me to go for the SB US. I feel the JP SLW92 would be best suited to me. It has more volume, longer and is more forgiving. AND it can still be coaxed to over 30 knot speeds ... Also, the wood version is the only one under $2000. For me and my skills, I will not notice much difference between wood, pro and gold. Why does JP make three (3) versions of the same board ??

Jean-Marc of the SB TEAM recently commented: No worries for your 103 kg with US147. A pal of 105 kg is using one with an Overdrive 11 m2 sail + 62 cm fin (planing as of 8 knots of wind) or a NCX 9.0 m2 sail + 58 cm fin (planing as of 12 knots).

So, if you want early planing AND speed , butt donut mind the shorter nose of the SB US, that would be the board for you. However, some sites are warning that this board is more for advanced riders and that intermediates will learn to work with it !! I am an intermediate at best.

For both boards {SB & JP} i feel one will start with one sail and fin and will find two sails and associated fins are required. AND both board can probably go from 10 knot winds to 20 knot winds !! ie BIG range...

Unfortunately I do NOT have either board NOR have i seen either one first hand. Evan from work has a SB US, butt i have not seen him out on it yet - we sail at different locations :-(
I will definitely go see him on his SB US and his JP SuperSport this year {2013}

Are there any other differences?? The SB US does have a dropped mast track. The JP SLW92 has forward placed footstrap option.The JP has slight VEE going to a flat area. What about the SB ?? They speak about hard rails for speed and curved tail for gybes.  + they speak about a new rocker line ?? One article says "The flat V bottom provides a dynamic water flow and assures a fluid drive."

Here are a couple of videos to close out the discussion:

In this first one, WindSurfing Magazine does a better job selling the board than any StarBoard video.

Starboard UltraSonic 147 from WINDSURFING magazine on Vimeo.

Let's see what the same magazine says about the JP SLW :

Here is a video of the SB US:

HAD a video from Rikswindsurfing about the JP SLW - like what i was anticipating from Tiesda You of SB !!  disappearing videos are getting REALLY annoying #$%^&*( replaced video with this one : think the dude is team rider

JP SUPER LIGHTWIND 90 - Early planing from Sebastian Kornum on Vimeo.

Why would one chose one of these boards over a Formula board ? Formula is dedicated to race with very large fins and sails. These boards are one step closer to free-ride.  Formula can be very expensive, butt these days i find all the boards are pricing themselves out of the market. Who can afford $3000 boards ?

Why would one chose one of these over free-ride? Earlier planing with a large wind range would be the answer. Evan has an SB US and his next board down is a JP SuperSport 127. The SB US gets him out in winds from 10 to 16 knots and after that he blasts on the smaller free-race. The range of 10 to 16 is common to many areas of the world and not every one has the equipment to go out then. I feel this board is an addition to the free-ride quiver that starts at 16 knots ie get out on the water sooner - b4 16 knot winds.

Why would one chose one of these over a longboard? This is a personal choice. There are longboards with more range and glide than these boards. Even a hybrid like a KONA can go from say 7 knots to 20+ knots. The race longboards are very expensive and technical to sail - in the sense that there are tricks to make them faster under different situations and the mast track adjusts during sailing. As i said, this is a very personal choice and depends on what you do...

If you are not into racing, then this is an option over slalom as well...

There are now free-move boards, butt they make more sense in the 120 to 130 liter range and NOT as light wind planing machines. They are more about maneuverability than early planing and speed.

Personally i hope these FreeFormula boards catch on and become a standard !!!
Perhaps a new race class one day for the average joe windsurfer ??

Some people have tried one of these boards and did NOT like them.
{In the past it was about the JP SLW fin, butt that was corrected.}
Mostly it is about when the wind drops ie schlogging {and a little about speed}.
This is an issue for Formula as well - that is where the name mini-Formula applies.
These unhappy campers either go on to race longboards or other large freerace shortboards .
Tinho Dornellas feels the length is part of the issue and has built the custom Z2 - 296 x 84 cm.

Will post other reviews of these boards as i find 'em:

damn - another link NOT working ... and cannot find the info ... this seems to be the relink,but  REALLY unformatted...
with references to MANY other links ...
where only two were new and still worked !!

and Tiesda You on Wood and Carbon on Windsurf Boards:


Fanatic Falcon 152 is 230 cm long and 90 cm wide - too short - even if faster than JP SLW
Exocet RS7 is 232 cm and 90 cm wide - again too short and 149 liters

both handle sails 7.5 to 11.0

18APR2013 i went to the Windspirit shop in St-Hyacinthe on the South Shore to pick up my TR-6 8.4 sail and there was a JP SLW90 in the showroom. It was the carbon version. My first impressions were that it is short for its width - as anticipated. It is also MUCH lighter than i had anticipated !! The fellow who bought it is a 72 year old who is apparently quite a good sailor. Unfortunately the story is this may be his last board as he is battling cancer. I wish him GOOD winds and lotsa fun on this lovely looking board. It looks like he purchased a weed fin right away as well ...

In 2014 I saw a used SB US at 2-rad in St-Laurent. Bruno said it was used ONCE. The buyer felt that it just did NOT handle chop :-(

Same year, Bruno also told me he can plane with a 7.5 on a smaller board in steady 12 knot winds. Bruno is no light weight and is close to 200 pounds. He says the importance is steady winds AND technique. Locally he says that is MUCH more difficult. Fresh water and unsteady winds.

This year saw a used JP SLW 90 sell VERY quickly. Especially after discussed on light wind day on Quebec Wind forum :-) Was about $1200 - ONLY. New is about $2200 to $3200!!! Perhaps it was belonging to the 72 year old who was battling cancer. Certainly hope NOT !!!

End of 2014 - sold my BIC Techno Formula and purchased a JP SLW92:

with a Select Ultra Race 66 cm fin !!

This board is closer to what I am used to in terms of length and as such should be okay for tacking. The others are much shorter - as much as 20 cm. Also this fin was what I used on the BIC Techno Formula. Will also purchase a DT True Ames SantaBarbara/SB 58 cm weedie. René says this is the BEST weedie for the board. People have tried MANY others, but always come back to that fin. If auventfou does not have one next year, they are available in the US.Have found that people DO use the board with a Severne 8.6 race sail, but usually with a slightly smaller fin - around 51 cm. Personally will try this with the weedie.

It seems this is catching on - there is now the freemove "movement" which replaced even the Fanatic Shark in 2015. RRD with Antoine Albeau/AA made a board called the RRD X-Fire LightWind which is 236 cm x 91 cm. Sounds a LOT like the JP SLW90. Then again, AA was involved in the JP SLW development with Micah Buzanis and JP !! Here is a a photo:

AA and the board make the little Italian fellow look REALLY tiny !!!
Then again , he is just as large in name - Roberto Ricci :-)

In 2015 Jeff from Ozland sent me a PDF he downloaded from the German Surf Mag...
It was about the "new" boards that are like Formula and yet ...
As you know, I call them FreeFormula - typically 90 to 95 cm wide.
In their analysis they rated them in terms of freeride vs freerace vs race.
Here it is going from freeride to race. Have left out the Lorch since it is Euro based ONLY...

SL55 wrote on Auzzie forum

I bought a new 2013 Ultrasonic as a replacement for my aging SLW154. Using those two boards side by side for a few days now I found that SU is not as early planing board as my SLW. In the same conditions with the same 10m free-race sail and Select S12 59 fin there is about 1- 2 mph difference. It was expected to a degree because of US’s lower volume and much narrower tail. It may also be because I know how to squeeze every drop of performance out of SLW, and US is a new board for me. I also noticed that US is much more sensitive to the fin choice. It gets easily overfinned as it picks up speed and starts doing wheelies in gusts, and as a consequence I have consistently better max speed by GPS on SLW. On the other hand, if I put a smaller (55cm) Select, it is harder to get it on the plane. 

At the end of the season I did not change my opinion. Contrary to what you may read on the internet, US is behaving like a big free ride board, it has more comfortable rails under feet, and it is probably better for light weight riders. SLW feels more like a slalom board, but it is less demanding on the fin choice and is more controllable at speed and goes upwind better. It is better if you are heavier. Both boards are not slow. My boards are older models. The difference is going to be bigger with 2016 boards due to larger difference in volume, 147 vs 168. Larger volume may hurt the ride in chop though..


  1. How are you liking sailing your JP? I am interested in getting one of thes eboards (between US and RRD) and I am wondering what other think about sailing them. Do you find them difficult in chop? can it be the ultimate 1-board setup?

    1. I AM liking it, but it has not become my one board weapon.
      That is NOT the fault of the board, but more the local conditions.
      I am using my longboard more than ever AND the water levels are low. This means long slalom fins are NOT ideal.
      Monday I hope to try it again with an 8.x sail.
      Cluffy of seabreeze forum says the board is GREAT with 10.x , 9.2 and 8.x. He calls it freerace ...
      Too bad he took his videos down !!

      Guess decision depends on your weight, skills, location, etc ..
      do have a post just about my JP SLW as well

  2. thx for the nice article. I have been sailing formula boards and like its ability to cruise around and have fun in light wind conditions. I agree with you that in light wind conditions the speed does not even matter, it's all about how much sailing time you can get. The only thing I have trouble with is handling choppy and windy condition with it. Currently I'm looking at the Ultrasonic, JP SLW and RRD SLD. I'm leaning to RRD since it looks more like a mini formula than others. But man these boards are hard to find(used or sale I mean!))

    1. depends when and where u r
      hardboot was selling a JP SLW90 out of Wasaga Beach not long ago and there is a used one at auventfout, MTL
      good hunting !!


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