How is the performance of this Decathlon soft board? We put the Olaian 500 foam 7’8 to the test.
– A robust foam surfboard that’s perfect for small, mushy waves. Ideal family board as it’s suitable for beginners and fun for experienced surfers that want to ride a longer board once in a while
The Olaian 500 7’8 is a longboard-shaped foamie: a round nose and a slightly narrowed tail. The board includes three flex fins and a leash. No tailpad, which makes sense for the size and riding style of the softtop. Some of the Olaian boards have high-tech dimples on the bottom sheet, but not this one. The 7’8 is flat and smooth. Here’s the board we’re talking about.
Volume (L): 75
Weight (kg): 5,5 including fins
Dimensions (inches): 7’8″ x 22″ x 3.3″
Dimensions (cm): 235 x 56 x 8,3
It looks like the product designers at Decathlon made some improvements. Compared to the older version this soft top feels much more stiff. The stringers are definitely a plus. Also, the top layer is a more thick, grippy material which I like. The banana leafs print on the bottom sheet is quite out there which probably isn’t to everyone’s liking. It does look decent in terms of bottom sheet quality.
The board is part of the 500 range that consists of 4 different lengths. The longest is the 8’6, that is very similar in shape as our board – the 7’8. Then come the two smaller ones that have a pointier nose: the 7’0 and the 6’0.
On the water the board really feels like a longboard. The fins provide sufficient traction. Compared to some other entry level softboards with soft fins, these fins are fine.
The top layer is really rubbery. Compared to other softies, this board is good to go without wax.
Our experience surfing the Olaian 500 7’8
The board feels sturdy and not flexible which means that the stringers are doing their job. In spite of the improved stringers the producers managed to keep the board relatively light. Because of the light weight I was able to accelerate the board quickly when paddling into a wave. This is good because it allows me to catch waves that are not yet breaking. The board is quite refined for a soft top. It’s quite narrow. This is good for ladies, as sometimes the width of a big board makes it difficult to paddle. Also, the relatively narrow shape of the foam board makes it a bit more elegant. It makes the board want to choose a side. Riding hollow waves straight to the beach isn’t an option. You have to edge your rail in the wave if it’s a bigger wave.
I’m not a huge fan of longboarding – but sometimes the waves are so tiny that it’s really your only option. For those days I rather surf this board than to buy a whole new rigid, heavy and vulnerable longboard. The Olaian 7’8 soft top is perfect to have in your home because you can lend it to anyone.
I had my friend surf on it who surfed for the first time ever. I had another friend surf it who is an experienced longboarder and she was happy with it.
I’d recommend the Olaian 7’8 foam board to advanced surfers that are too clumsy for expensive longboards and like to have a board at their home that they can share with friends. For kids I would recommend choosing a more round or egg-shaped board, such as the Olaian 7’0.
Olaian 7’8 negative experiences
Even though the board looks and feels impenetrable, the board still sucked a bit of water. 24 hours after surfing the board was still bleeding a bit of water. Apparently, this had to do with the fin box. I did not screw the fin in tightly enough. Pay attention when assembling the board!
It feels as if the water did not ‘sponge’ into the core of the board. It doesn’t feel heavy and the board still surfs as new.
To sum up: the Olaian 500 7’8 is a fun, refined foam surfboard that’s a whole lot more capable than the price suggests. I love how the Decathlon designers took notice of customers feedback and improved the board compared to the previous models. The soft top gives a super fun riding experience in both small/choppy waves. If you’re looking for a true beginners board, other boards might be more suitable for you. Here’s a link to the board on Decathlons website.