I have had several sessions on this board now and want to update this post.
IMO this is not a good freeride board and even more dissapointing is that it is pretty awfull in very choppy conditions secondary to the worst face spray I have ever experienced. My understanding at this point of why I am experiencing such awful face spray is... the fin position and tip to tip concave. The downward concave in the tip deflects spray into the fin and then into your face and it feels like someone sprayed me with a garden hose ( it has perfect aim, right between the eyes and buckets of water). You can over come the spray by riding with more back foot pressure to a degree, but when the chop is really bad it is hard to overcome and who wants to ride around worrying about how to keep the spray out of your face.
After so many reviews of how great this board has been over the years I am dissapointed in it because it is a very fun board in flat water or smoother chop conditions, but in full blown chop it is a pain in the eye. The worst face spray I have ever had. who wants to ride around trying to overcome this problem. I have never had this bad of a problem with face spray on any other board.
Another negative is again the straps and pads. the straps continue to come undone or loosen if you ride more than an hour and they always come unvelcroed in the surf and yes they are installed properly as I made sure with the distributer. Bottom line is I am going to get different straps and pads for it. The pads have a stiffer topsheet and smaller texture and to me they feel like gravel under your feet and are too stiff.
On a positive note I still like the speed and stability of the board and it jumps so easily. However, the landing is worse than my 09 bulldozer which is stiffer. new raptor is quite stiff in the center probably nearly as stiff as the bulldozer, but with the bulldozer when I land I can carve out the power and speed because of a better rocker line. The raptor has flex in the tips, but it is a very reactive flex and thus if you try to land and carve out the speed and power your actually find that you accelerate the board. the flex charateristics make take off and pop incredible but don't really ease the landing. This board wants to hit the water and actually accelerates with rear foot pressure because the tip refectively pushes back so hard and the rocker line is a smoother line at the tips, basically less scoop rocker than the bulldozer which for me makes landing the bulldozer so easy and soft inspite of it's stiffness.
I want anyone thinking about this board to have a good preparation for the positives and negatives. I really loved the bulldozer '09 but right now I am going to say overall the bulldozer was an easier board board to ride and although it had face spray at times it was nothing like this raptor is in the choppy conditions i frequent in the areas I ride.
My recommendation very humbily to crazy fly is to get rid of the concave all the way to the tip and give the raptor a little more flex and it will probably fit better as an all around freeride freetyle board. right now it is a pure freestyle board that likes more ideal conditions and doesn't accommidate the frequent choppy conditions most people probably ride in. Plus who wants to pay over $800 to upgrade to the limited raptor so you can get rid of the face spray problem that they have claimed with that board. Obviously, the face spray was an issue, sadly
I wish I could trade in for the limited! Now I am probably going to get the Shinn Monk, I have heard great things on this board for my style and conditions.
Anyone with there opinions would be interesting so let me know.