Sunday, July 28, 2019

Some Comments on Recent Racing


I mentioned that I wanted to discuss some of the PWA Slalom racing.  I wanted to go through the final race at Marignane where Pierre Mortefon sailed away from Antoin because of a better choice of equipment for the conditions. 

Well, all of that has been eclipsed by the current racing in Fuerteventura.

The heat videos from this event contain the best slalom racing I have ever seen.  Please go to the PWA site and watch them.  Anyone interested in slalom racing needs to watch every heat for a free master-class.  

Why is this racing on such a stratospheric level and so enjoyable for spectators?  Here are the factors as I see them:

  • The organised winter training has produced massive benefits for the athletes. The skill levels of the fleet have ramped up making everyone a contender.
  • Coverage of the event is fantastic. Drones are being deployed so effectively for us to see every move and Ben Proffitt is absolutely the right person to be commentating. 
  • The wind played along in Fuerte this year. The water state is not good however and this makes the speeds being achieved by Antoine, Pierre and Matteo almost unbelievable.
  • Current racing equipment has been engineered to levels which make these feats possible.
  • The almost super-human windsurfing abilities of the top three racers

We are lucky to be able to witness events such as this.

Good winds


Monday, July 22, 2019

New Equipment for 2020 1


I was going to do a piece on the recent racing but that will have to wait.  Instead, here is commentary on some new equipment which has caught my eye.  Manufacturers have started posting their new ranges and I will keep watch for interesting developments.
Starboard have done something I have been waiting for, for a long, long time.  They have taken a freestyle board, added outboard strap plugs (in addition to the normal inboard ones) and are supplying it with two fins – a trick fin and a freeride blasting fin.
This gives us a normal trick board with instant pop, instant acceleration and crazy speed but which allows us to deploy these attributes for high wind blasting.  Well done Starboard - a master stroke from you.
The board is called the Ignite and is something all of us need to have on our wish lists.

Here it is:

  The board

The fins - look at the fat tail.  No sinking in gybes.  Awesome!

The boards (three sizes) are short and wide and just look right to me.  If you sail in high winds but are tired of your small slalom/freeride board sinking in the lulls, this may be the answer for you.  The Ignite will shine with small wave sails like Severne’s Blade Pro, but also something light and really fast (Severne Gator/Hot Sails Maui GPX for example).
The Power fin box means that you can experiment with your existing fast b&j fins .  The short fin is easy to dismiss for those of us not interested in tricks but don’t write it off.  If you sail in shallow water (a tidal bay for example) you sometimes need a short fin.  Trick fins can be a whole lot of fun and allow for really sick gybes.  You may even be tempted to try a trick or two.

If you have a small kid who is keen on the sport, this has to be the best board – no question.  Something both of you can share in different applications.


Naish has posted its new equipment range.   Of interest to me are the new Starships and the Galaxy.  My only concern is the weight of these boards.  They furnish no weight specs and as most of us know, Naish is capable of building really heavy stuff.
If the weights are not too horrible, these boards have to be worth a look.

This is the Galaxy - a versatile slalom board with many footstrap options and a foil-ready fin box.  Watch Robbie’s video which is interesting and quite compelling.   I like the informal shape and vintage paint colours.  
A nice thing (if it is not too heavy of course).

Good winds   

Friday, June 7, 2019

Racing and Two New Boards


The first block of this year’s PWA slalom racing is over and results have been interesting.  I will say something about the racing but first I want to mention an interesting development within our sport.

Most board and sail companies attract top sailors to their stables.  These athletes showcase the equipment in competition and also play an important role in the development of high end products.  
This approach has resulted in a steady improvement in board/sail design and construction (to the benefit of everyone).   
JP’s boards have improved significantly due to the work of guys like Nicolas Prien and Seb Kornum.  Watch them improve even more now that Antoine has joined the team.

Recently a new phenomenon is taking hold.   Single athletes are breaking away to launch their own board brands.  I wrote some time ago about Dany Bruch’s new board brand (Diamond Boards – now re-named Bruch Boards).
In the race arena, we have Arnon Dagan’s Future Fly boards and Finian Maynard’s FMX range.  I wish both of these guys every success but I am uncertain about whether their business model is going to succeed.

These endeavours are one man affairs so budgets for team riders, travel, product development etc will be really thin.  You need to sell a large number of boards to keep afloat and my concern is that it will prove difficult to attract buyers when established companies have such good products now.

Anyway here is some commentary on the two new brands:

Arnon’s slalom range is the Dark Horse and Finian’s is called Invictus - the names reflect the personalities of the respective founders I suppose.
Arnon – a bit playful, a bit disruptive, a bit subversive
Finian – No nonsense, totally mission-focussed

Arnon’s team comprises Arnon and Taty Frans.  
Finians team is Finian and Maciek Rutkowski (four awesome sailors for sure).
Arnon’s shaper is Aurelio Verdi, Finian’s shaper is er ..Finian.
On seeing this, my thoughts were that Arnon’s boards would probably be superior (I am a huge Aurelio Verdi fan). 

I awaited the first slalom event with interest.

Anyway, here are the boards:

Arnon offers his boards with the option to include a Z fin (the actual model and size used in the board’s development).  Nice touch.

Finian’s boards have 2 footstrap plug rows and removable cut-out blades.  Nice!

Each brand professes to offer superior construction (compared to established brands) and each claims faster bottom shapes.  I have to say, both boards look sensational but performance is what matters of course.

So-how have the boards been doing?

The first round of racing was in Marignane.  
Arnon and Taty dropped out in their first heats with Maciek going shortly after.  
Who did we see in the winners final? -  Finian!  His boards work!

The second event was windless but the third slalom event in Ulsan had wind and produced the following placings:

1.       Mateo Iachino
2.       Jordy Vonk
3.       Tristan Algret
4.       Antoin Albeau
Arnon, Finian, Maciek and Taty were placed between 17th and 29th.

The Defi Wind has been held and Arnon came 6th in the first race and won the second race.  He was disqualified in the second race for not signing some piece of paper but as far as you and I are concerned, he piloted his board to first place in that race.  
Defi is far closer to the type of sailing that most of us do and a Dark Horse ran away from everyone on that field.
What the above facts tell us is that the two new board lines work.  Depending on your style and specific requirements you could get exactly what you are looking for from one or other of the two lines.   

My impression is that Finian’s boards will be more race-focussed and Arnon’s, slightly easier to sail for the average sailor.  I think that his straps are slightly more inboard (?).  

Would I buy one of them?   Absolutely.   I would buy a Dark Horse 117 if pushed, but would ideally need to test it against a few alternatives before signing actual money away.

I said that I was going to discuss the racing but I have been waffling on a bit so I will end now.  I will talk racing and some product news in the next post.

Good winds

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Some 2019 Equipment


Just a quick note on some new stuff.

Everything of the best for the new year to all of you

I mentioned in the last post that I would be discussing foiling and Guiseppe Scullino's findings regarding light wind options.  I am not going to do this right now but will include these topics in an upcoming post.


Ellie and I recently acquired two 2017 Severne Gators (6.5 and 7.0) and our first few rides on them have revealed how astonishingly good these sails are.  They are fast light and versatile.  
I knew that they were going to be good but they have surpassed all expectations.
I do not have Severne masts yet so I rigged the 7.0 on an old Fiberspar 460 mast.  This was totally wrong for the sail so I had to modify the mast using an old left over 490 Powerex top, cut down for improved stiffness.  

If any of you are interested to find out more about this Frankenstein mast, the process and logic behind it - please e-mail me.  I’ll explain the whole thing.  The altered mast allows the sail to set beautifully and work properly on the water.

Severne Mach2

Severne have refined elements from their Mach 1 race sail to produce the Mach 2, and what a sail:
  • At last they have cut the batten count to 7 across all sizes. 
  • The sail now appears to be the lightest race offering out there
  • Sizes 5.0, 5.5, 6.2 all rig on rdm masts
  • The thing looks so right

 Well done Severne - you may very well have created the best race winning sail on the planet.  I can’t wait to watch the 2019 race vids to compare its behaviour and performance on the water with the awesome blades of Pryde and Duotone.  
A new contender is here!

What a thing!

RRD Race

Speaking of new contenders, RRD have developed a pure race sail which looks really interesting
(correct number of carbon tube battens, wide sleeve etc).

Cyril has left Severne and will be racing this new sail (X-Wing Mk 1) on the RRD slalom boards in the new racing season.


Avanti M-7 

Avanti have also unveiled their new race sail which exhibits the usual Avanti strengths (beautifully executed load path architecture, faultless integrity of design and bomb proof construction).  

Very,very cool

Gun Bow

Gun Sails are offering a Bow sail/bowflex mast.  This is one of Pieter Bijl’s projects and resurrects a concept introduced by Gaastra in the mid 90’s.  Here is how it works:

The sail sets on a special mast which has an extremely bendable, whippy top portion
This ensures that the sail is not a loose leech design – it bends off on the mast tip and bends off a lot more than a conventional design is able to, even when properly down-hauled.
This means that the release area (that band which adds area to the sail in low wind and disappears as the sail twists in gusts) is so much bigger on the Bow sail.

The result is a sail which constantly adjusts to wind strength, adding power in lulls and reducing it in gusts.  As you spool up under power, the release area is minimised.  When your speed is equal to the wind, the sail closes, bringing ever more power and speed - an organic thing constantly adjusting to conditions to optimise speed over distance.

This is an interesting concept which unfortunately comes with marketing challenges.   The proprietary mast can only be used with this sail.  Say you buy a Bow sail and bowflex mast but the sail does not succeed in the market.  You are potentially stuck if Gun discontinues the model.  When your sail wears out you are left with an unusable mast.  Not good.

I really hope that this concept works and becomes main-stream for certain applications.  It is reportedly perfect for foiling in addition to being a really fast, free-race design. 

That’s a whole lot of ugly on the water but if ugly works it can be kinda cool.  

I’m not sure what Pieter is shouting at but I’ll bet it’s a kiter jumping in front of him, oblivious of other water users.  I recognise the attitude and body language from similar scenes on our local beach.

2020 Fanatic Falcon 100

Craig and Jordy from Fanatic were here recently, testing a proto 100 litre Falcon for the 2020 line-up.  They had it on a 2019 Warp 7.0 and from what I could tell, a Z fin of 36cm.  I don’t think I’ve seen such easy speed from a fast slalom board.  The thing is like a turbo charged hover craft.  All I can say is that if you are in the market for a new small slalom board in 2020, please include this Falcon on your short list.  Fingers crossed your list will also include a slalom offering from Severne (?).

Zulu Foil

Zulu have developed their new foil and like all Zulu products it is a properly resolved and fastidiously developed piece of equipment.

The main comment I hear from everyone who has tried it is how easy it is to sail.  This is a really nice product at a very good price.  Give Robbie a shout if you are interested.

OK, that’s all for now.
All the best and good winds


Monday, October 8, 2018

New Developments, Goldilocks Boards and a new Zulu fin


Sorry for the long break.  Our winter is not a great time to be thinking of windsurfing and I have also been struggling with medical issues.  Anyway I’m back and able to share some thoughts with you.
Here are some interesting new products and developments:


Most of you will have followed the demise of North Windsurfing and its transition into Duotone.  Thankfully, the new company retains all of the product design rights and would only have needed to move their manufacture to other facilities.  The team remains exactly the same.  Duotone is perhaps not the most inspiring name for a windsurfing company but who cares if their stuff works.

New Sails

New sails are creeping onto the various sites and everything seems to be getting lighter, faster and stronger - exactly what we need.  I have started paying more attention to Pryde’s freeride and free-race sails now, in light of their phenomenal new race sail.  I’m sure they learned some things developing the race blade and usually, design aspects from an apex product find their way into softer models.  Look at their Speedster or V8 (most of the speed of a pure race sail but way more ease and fun).  Bargain!

Four Goldilocks Boards

I watch for boards capable of being fast, easy to gybe and fun to ride.  My current favourites which tick all of these boxes are the Fanatic Blast and JP’s Super Ride.  These are both designs which, with proper fins under them, promise to be just right in terms of speed, gybing and the generation of happiness.

Reviews and commentary about the Super Ride are starting to appear online and riders are stoked in every bit of feedback I can find.  Incidentally, both the Blast and the Super Ride come with half decent fins so you start with a solid base.

If I had to include one slightly faster board to this small list I would have to include the Severne Fox.  A slightly more freeride design would be the Naish Starship.
So there you have it – 4 boards that are, in my opinion (and for my type of sailing) just right.
Some fin options (not an exhaustive list) for the above boards:

·         Zulu Shaka (new edition)
·         Tectonics Phoenix
·         Tectonics Falcon
·         MUF Freeride

I will give my suggestion about how to incorporate one or two Goldilocks boards into your quiver further down the page.

New Severne Board

Severne have launched the Psycho, a free-style board.  This has to be on your list if you are looking for such a thing.  I like the fin.

I often wonder what one of these boards would be like with slightly outboard strap options.  Free-style boards have such pop and immediate acceleration – I think you could frighten your mates on free-ride boards.

New Slalom Boards

The new JP slalom boards may not be that visible on the PWA but if you look at the European circuits, they are taking names.  Have a look at recent IFCA events which show plenty of orange boards under purple sails winning.  I recall reading something recently about a new open water speed record on a JP slalom board.  If I remember correctly, the guy averaged over 40k across one nautical mile.
The only criticism I would make against JP is the lack of a 75cm wide slalom model.  To me this is the only size slalom board needed by the non-racing windsurfer.  RRD on the other hand has presented its new slalom range and they have included a board of this width.  Well done RRD.

New Zulu Fin

Robbie at Zulu has re-vamped his trusty Shaka fins.  I have taken this post from a page on his site and use it allow his words to speak for themselves: 

When Robbie says they have tested thoroughly, he means it.  My first gen Shaka is still in use and remains an all time favourite.  

So here is a suggestion about a good way to incorporate one or two Goldilocks boards in your quiver:
  •      Your big board would be a foil-optimised, 80-90ish     wide,   light wind killer.  Think Patrik’s Formula-Foil 91   or Pryde’s RS:X Convertible Board.
  •      The only pure slalom board would be a 75cm wide model.
  •      The next board down is a Goldilocks design (68cm wide   if you are lighter, 73 if you are fat, both if you are rich   and have the space)
  •      Your small board will be picked from the many excellent   free-wave offerings available today (Severne Dyno, RRD   Freestylewave, Patrik F-Cross, Fanatic Freewave etc)

Your sails would ideally need to start with a 7.5 and 7.0, both able to be sailed easily with a foil and also be racy enough for your 75cm slalom board.  I am thinking Severne NCX, Pryde V8, Ezzy Lion etc.

Your next two sails could be a 6.5 and 5.8 in a nice light sail like Severne’s Gator with the smallest sail being a good wave design in 4.7 or 4.8m.

There you have it – a quiver for most wind and water conditions.  Add a good foil and some great fins and you are set to glean maximum enjoyment from our sport.

That is all for now.
In the next post I will write something about a new foil from Zulu and pass on some rider feedback regarding foil vs normal lightwind kit.  Giuseppe Scullino from Italy has been doing some in depth comparisons with his mates and his findings interesting.

Good winds

Friday, June 22, 2018

Some Improvements to PWA Commentary and a new Board from JP


Here is a quick note regarding the PWA video coverage and a very interesting new board from JP.


The video racing coverage has vastly improved thanks to Ben Proffitt’s commentary and the drones which they now deploy to catch the action.  

Ben is such a good person to have commentating because he is a serious windsurfer himself, he knows racing and he knows every contender.  These things enable him to include unique insights into his commentary.

If you have not done so, please have a look at the videos on the PWA site.  The racing in Viana Portugal was epic.  Nice one Portugal – a fantastic venue with awesome conditions.

New Board

JP has sneaked a new board onto its on-site equipment list.  This is the new Super Ride, a board nowhere to be found on their current catalogue but as I say, on the site.  

I assume that they are giving us a peek at the board but will only release it for 2019.

Anyway the board is slightly more performance orientated than the Magic Ride but not as manic as the Super Sport.


Here is why I predict that this will be an awesome machine:
·         It is a good length
·         It  has no cut-outs
·         It has a diamond tail
·         It’s footstraps are beautifully positioned for a balanced, fast, comfortable ride
·         The proprietary fin looks like a serious blade
·         It has a Tuttle box so you can deploy your very best fins for extra speed

I may be wrong about the potential of this board but I don’t think so.  The elements tick so many boxes for me.

Anyway, we will see when the tests and reviews start coming in.  If any of you happen to get a ride on a Super Ride please let us know your impressions.

Good winds

Friday, May 18, 2018

First PWA Racing of the Season, New Equipment and a note about Free-Race Boards



The first PWA event took place recently in Japan.  

The slalom heats were few because the wind was extremely unsteady but there are a few observations to be made.

The first observation is that the foiling side of things seems to have come of age.  It is closely fought and quite entertaining to watch.  Gonzalo has emerged as the guy to beat having dedicated himself to the discipline over the winter.
Gonzalo is on Starboard/Severne and is flying.  The new Severne Hyperglide sails seem to be pretty much foiling state-of-the-art at this point in time.

Many of the riders prefer sails other than pure racing designs for foiling (Julien Quentel uses Tempests – not the new Machine M-6 race models for example).

Interesting though, is that the Pryde sailors have no problem with their new race blades – foil or slalom – bring it on.  This attests to the user friendliness of the design and to underscore this, Antoine won the slalom racing and came second in the foiling – on the same sails.

When Pryde launched this model with its fresh shaping and reduced batten count, I predicted that it would prove to be something special.  It is still early days but watch this space.

New Equipment

RRD is getting serious about foiling at the highest levels and is about to release their new foiling board.  They clearly wanted to give Antoine the best chance of winning and so, made a proper, light, purpose built, foiling machine.  Nice!

Fanatic has released the Jag Ltd, a freerace board which looks interesting.  The Blast is more of a high speed freeride machine I suppose, so the new Jag makes sense as a useful addition to their line-up.
I note that the construction of the Jag is the same as the Gecko so it might be quite heavy.  I’m not sure why they would not have a textreme option for those of us allergic to heavy stuff.  

The weights of the new boards are not shown on the spec sheet which makes me extremely nervous.

The boards come with Choco Black Pearl fins which are decent blades.  You could easily take the supplied fin as your middle size and supplement with something like a Tectonics (Phoenix or Falcon) for your smaller size and a full on carbon fin for the larger size.  One board/ three fins/ job done.

Besides the concerns regarding the weight of the Jags, I would only say that the straps look too far back for me.  This is a 100%, sitting - in - armchair opinion of course but I just have the feeling that the straps are too crowded towards the back of the board.  This is better for speed I suppose but I don’t know.  

I would need to sail a Jag to get some sort of feel.  Buying one blind would definitely not happen whereas if I were to get a good deal on any of the other boards listed below, I wouldn’t hesitate to take it untried.

The Free-Race Board

The new Jag is one of many free-race designs on the market right now.  Off the top of my head these are the models I would be looking at if I needed to choose one:
  • Severne Fox 
  • RRD Firestorm Ltd 
  • Patrik F-Race 
  • Starboard Futura 
  • Goya Bolt Pro 
  • Fanatic Jag (need to try first)
Severne’s Fox is the only power box board here which is not a problem in the smaller sizes but in the bigger sizes I would definitely prefer Tuttle and deep Tuttle boxes.

Why I fancy these designs in the appropriate size, is because they:
  • Are longer than their slalom counterparts 
  • Have inboard strap plugs for those of us tired of stepping into the water trying to get feet into slalom straps. 
  • Can be sailed very happily with freeride, free-slalom or full race sails 
  • Can be sailed with a range of fin types – from wild water shapes to full carbon race blades 
  • Are so much more enjoyable to sail than slalom boards in all but the flattest conditions.
For my weight, I would order one of these boards of around 70cm wide.  Anything bigger would need to be pure slalom and anything smaller would be a fast free-wave board.  

I may share a few thoughts about some fast free-wave shapes in an upcoming post.

OK, that’s all for now.

Good winds and stay sheeted in