Photos Attached/ click above ***
My Dad, a veteran builder of cedar strip kayaks, was persuaded into making a kiteboard for me. I decided on a board design that didn’t require a unique flexing pattern to perform well, so copied the tried and true Ocean Rodeo Mako 140.
Being his first board the dimensions didn’t come out an as exact copy. The rocker is slightly flatter throughout being about 1/8” less than the original. The concave is slightly greater (oops) and the board is 141 cm long and 1/4” narrower. Compared to the original, the woodies rails are round. Dad also made a few uncharacteristic boo-boo’s on the finish coat. It’s dimpled and a long story, but it doesn’t effect the performance or take away from the “pretty wood effect.”
It’s constructed from cedar strips glued together shaped on a rocker table, with a layer of 7 oz fiberglass-epoxy, and a final two coats of UV inhibiting poly finish. The inserts are layered with additional fiberglass - no way these are pulling out. The stripped board weighs in at 5 lbs 4 oz, which is 4 oz lighter than the original mako, and it’s crazy strong. The flex is about the same as the original Mako, which happens to be very little.
For its maiden voyage I had it out on W. Dennis beach, Mass in 15-25 mph WSW winds and heavy chop. And from what I understand perfect Mako conditions. Having ridden the original Mako (a borrowed board) for three sessions, I’m not a Mako expert. My impressions…
I also swapped out the original Mako’s “rigging” fins & straps/pads to make it a more apples to apple comparison.
Well, first off it didn’t sink. Right out of the gate it felt similar to the original, with a signature smooth Mako ride. Chop, what chop. Then I noticed something else, it felt both softer yet livelier than the original 140. One of my reservations about the Mako, and this is merely a personal observation/preference, is it’s lack of liveliness. For me, the original feels almost too smooth taking away it’s “aliveness” much in the way a Cadillac ride can be too smooth. But this all depends on what you like doesn’t it. The woody Mako, perhaps due to it’s slightly flatter rocker (and or slightly stiffer? - who knows) feels more like a, well, sporty Caddy.
The owner of the original Mako, tried the woody and described its ride as similar and yet softer as well > Soft in this sense is referred to it’s complete lack of rail catch and overall looseness.
Not that the original Mako has an issue, but the round rails on the woody made it crazy forgiving in chop and during transitions. The board just won’t catch a rail and if it does, you can easily pull it back before going over the handlebars. Again, not that rail catch is usually a problem, but you can push this board any which way and it just doesn’t hang up - especially in chop. In this way it feels like a surfboard. I assumed the rounded rails would hurt it’s upwind performance, but the woody smoothly climbed upwind just like the original. It’s hard to be sure but it went upwind even better and with less effort. Attribute this to a flatter rocker perhaps, either way it has nice upwind performance.
Now it was time to take it downwind and flatten the board out on some swell. This is when the board really transformed (a Mako characteristic). It was loose, and well, just fun. Smooth, fast and loose are the three things that immediately came to mind with this board. All this with incredible control. The best way to describe it, is a cross between a surfboard and a twintip. The woody Mako is even slightly more surfy than the original Mako.
Like the original Mako, it’s not what you’d call a light wind board. The woody Mako seems to even need slightly more wind. I attribute this to both a slightly narrower width and a little deeper concave than the original.
It doesn’t transition or ride toeside as well as a regular twintip or surfboard. I read somewhere this has something to do with the Mako’s deep concave design. Or perhaps it’s a matter of getting in tune with the board. I suspect it may be both and can be compensated for by the latter.
For whatever reason, the board was bouncy at times while marginally powered in heavy chop. It’s still smooth but a little bouncy. However, when I was fully powered the bounciness went away and no matter how choppy the water was. The bottom line, the stronger the wind (and or the more power), the smoother the board got. During my next two sessions, I experienced none of the bounce from the first session. Who knows. Perhaps it was in the way I was riding it the first time.
From my experience so far, the Mako design isn’t a one size fits all design. Some love it, some don’t. If you have knee trouble, this is your board. For those that want a surfy feel or want to ride surf but aren’t interested in learning new skills required with a directional board, the Mako design is a nice option. As for myself, this particular woody Mako will be my high wind fun-fun-fun board. Thanks Dad!
*** Note: Originally I rode the board with the stock Ocean Rodeo Mako fins (I believe 55 cm) and straps/pads. After returning the original Mako to the owner, I swapped out the fins from a Shinn Dundee and straps/pads from a North TT. Performance seemed about the same with the 57 cm Shinn fins.