YES Optimistic 2018-2019 Snowboard Review

UPDATE: Check out our review of the 2019/2020 YES Optimistic here

Downsized snowboards with wider waists are all the rage these days, as what they offer up in the powder simply can’t be matched by conventional shapes. The trade-off is that their piste performance takes an inevitable hit, so they’re not ideal for those who love to get their elbow down. However, before such riders retreat to the longer boards, they would do well to check out the excellent YES Optimistic.

The YES Optimistic snowboard doesn’t take the shape thing as far as, say, the YES 420 PowderHull, but it’s still designed to be ridden shorter than what you’d normally take to the groomers. The 157cm version has roughly the same effective edge as the 162cm versions of the Standard or the Ghost. The waist widths are a near match too.

“The shape of the nose and tail make this perform well in powder, whilst not compromising its performance on firmer trails”

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Naturally the savings in length are found in the nose and tail. The nose is a little wider, to make up for its stubbiness, and it has a short pin tail. Both make this perform well in powder, whilst not compromising its performance on firmer trails.

The YES Optimistic is one of only two boards in the range to feature true, honest-to-goodness camber in its profile. Perhaps it’s not surprising given how well received the ‘CamRock’ found on the likes of the YES Basic Decade and YES Hel Yes has been received, but sometimes only the classic bend will do.

The reliable, lightweight combo of poplar and paulownia in the core is joined by two carbon rods that match the curve of the sidecut. That, combined with the triax fibreglass, makes this as solid on a powerful edge as anything you could care to mention.

“Once you’ve tried UnderBite, the benefits are undeniable”

There’s one more ingredient that will please the carving crew, actually; the extra heft in the waist is neatly set off by YES’ ‘UnderBite’ design. Right at the bindings the edge retreats a few millimetres towards the centre of the board, disrupting the sidecut and splitting it into three separate zones. Each shoulders part of the responsibility as you enter, move through and exit the turn, and once you’ve tried it the benefits are undeniable.

There’s really nothing quite like the YES Optimistic.

Tester’s Verdict


“Sometimes the stars just align, so a huge thanks to whatever celestial foreplay occured to let the YES Optimistic fall into my hands on the first day of The Whitelines Selection, with two feet of fresh spread over an uncharacteristically quiet Avoriaz. Perfect conditions to take out my favourite kind of snowboard (pow boards that are big on width, short on length), so from the off it was already more than the double positive promised by the name.

It didn’t disappoint. The big nose gives an absolute shitload of float, making it one of those boards where you can actively lean on the front foot in deep snow, creating a solid platform for sticking drops and absolutely railing turns. It’s so big in fact that I quickly moved the bindings all the way forward bar one hole to get more from the tail without sacrificing a jot of control up front.

“One of those boards where you can actively lean on the front foot in deep snow, creating a solid platform for sticking drops and absolutely railing turns”

The ‘Underbite’ works too. I’ve ridden a few boards (which shall go unnamed) where the opposite tech was trialled – bumps in the edge on the contacts points – and they were a total shit-fight on piste, putting me off anything other than smooth radii. My faith has been restored – having that extra drive between your feet really helps set an edge and makes transitioning from powder to piste and back again an experience in its own right. Face shot, blam, back to hardpack, then arc back around again without losing speed to pop that next side hit.

Admittedly the conditions were perfect that week, but there have been few boards that have simply shined quite as much as the Optimistic. I wasn’t alone in my assessment – during that test week, it was one of only a few boards that were out every single day. If you’ve lusted after a 420 for years but held back because you wanted something a bit more versatile, here’s your answer.”

Trade Secrets

Alex Warburton – Brand Director, YES

“Selfishly, this was designed for me to win some duct-tape in the pro-masters division at Baker. Unfortunately even this rocket-ship of a board couldn’t make up for my aging, slow ass, but under faster shreds it’s still managed to rack up quiet a few banked slalom wins the past two winters.

The Optimistic is designed to let you freely lean-over as far as you want to go, thanks to a pretty wide overall platform. A combination of a very lively sidecut, true modern camber and the Powerdrive core silences anyone’s worry that wide means slow edge-to-edge. This thing rockets out of turns, and those turns are a pure joy to hang onto thanks to the width.

“Don’t let the directional look fool you – this board is a serious quiver killer”

The tail is chopped off abruptly after the effective edge, and the nose is extended out past a very shallow lift profile (entry rocker). This allows the stance to be almost centered on the effective turning edge for on-piste power, without affecting the boards marvellous floating abilities in the powder.

Don’t let the directional look fool you. With its range of capabilities, this board is a serious quiver killer.”

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