Thursday, September 15, 2016

Lightwind Windsurfing Boards – An Update

A bit of feedback regarding new lightwind boards –
Giuseppe, an Italian reader, recently purchased an RRD XFire Lightwind and he tells me that it is probably the best windsurfing purchase of his life.  

The board is the new version (V2) which has no video presentation on the site and no online reviews which I can find right now. 
Giuseppe recons that it does exactly what it says on the tin – fast, effortless to plane, easy to gybe, very flexible regarding sail and fin sizes etc and 120% fun.  In fact, from his comments it is likely that this board comes closest to my lightwind ideal of everything on the market right now.

Giuseppe says that the largest fin size necessary for him was a 53 cm Select Slalom (I think) and when he changed down to a 49cm size he was rewarded with even more speed, better control and even more fun with a slightly smaller sail.  Very awesome!  I would personally consider compliant fins (Zulu of course) of 56, 50 and 46 depending on sail size and water condition.

I have to say that I am really disappointed with Fanatic’s Lightwind Falcon.  They have produced the thing in a heavy construction and retained the short length.  Not cool guys – I’m not angry, just extremely disappointed.  Actually, thinking about it, I am angry.  Very angry! (And very disappointed)

The problem I have with Starboard’s Ultrasonic is the extreme width.  I have not ridden one but I doubt that it will be comfortable with smaller sails.  The 90ish width is, in my opinion, on the cusp between slalom and formula, able to go either way.  If you are tempted by a 95cm board, would it not be better to buy Patrik’s hollow formula board and go the whole hog with 12m sail and 70cm fin etc.  Just saying….

Here are two shots of Giuseppe’s new machine.  In the second shot he places the XFire against his Manta 85cm (a wide board in its own right) and you can see that wonderful wide back shape of the XFire to provide the leverage we need. Very nice ...

Talk to you soon.  I will discuss some of Severne's new stuff and also mention some good stuff from Starboard.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Bigger Board/Smaller Sail Initiative - Some Thoughts


I will ramble on in this post a bit so if you are not up for wading through random musings –please look away.  The post is also aimed at non-racing recreational sailors so will not be of much interest to racers and speed demons.  

My topic has to do with board shapes and plan forms.  A huge thing that I discovered when trying smaller sails on bigger boards, is the importance of the width of the back of the board.   A wide rear deck provides leverage over fin and sail of course.   When sail and fin are smaller than envisaged by the designer of that board size, the leverage over the rig is really significant.  What this allows one to do is to ride the big board into conditions you would normally change down for.  Neither the sail nor the fin was built with this extra leverage in mind so by exploiting these factors you enter unfamiliar territory for most of us.  If you allow yourself to explore this realm you can open a door to something new and exciting.
My own trials with big old formula boards and with our old Falcon 124 have been a revelation in this endeavour.  The 124 is 76cm wide and can be sailed with a 40cm fin and 6.6m soft sail.  The ride this combo gives is simply awesome.  The board is light enough to shoot onto the plane and continue to plane through lulls where the 71/110ish slaloms are falling off (even with bigger sails).  The soft sail and compliant Zulu fin tame everything down to make things easy, fast and fun.

The whole small sail big board process has caused me to decide that I no longer need a pure slalom board less than 75cm wide.  I weigh 90kg so if you want to try the concept you may go down to 71cm if your weight is less than mine.

When I am finally overpowered on the 124/6.6 combination, I easily change down by keeping the sail and clicking on the 3S 116.  If I receive a windfall from the kind folks at the lottery, my slalom board would be the iSonic 114 and the step down would be the Severne Fox 105 mentioned in the previous post – two boards for most of your sailing as long as you possess appropriate fin and sail sizes.  
The wide rear is obviously not the only factor in determining performance but it is certainly important in my view. I had been toying with the thought of getting something like a JP Supersport 125 to move away from slalom boards altogether but on comparing the rear sections of the JP with the iSonic 114, I have to say that my preference would be the iSonic

When you look at the Starboard rear strap positioning, it is clear that they are placed for maximum force against the fin.  The JP’s straps are simply too close to the centre in my opinion.  If they had maintained the width just a bit further back I may have been swayed but not this year.  Sorry JP – a pity  because I suspect that you have nailed the under shape of this new Supersport – easy, superfast, light, not too short etc.

On the new Starboards, one thing you hear from everyone who tests the iSonics is the insane wind range they are capable of sailing in.  This tells me that they are easy and confidence inspiring.  This confidence comes from comfort and control which I believe is largely due to the rear strap positioning.  A soft 6.6m sail is totally outside of what you would expect to sail on a 76.5cm wide iSonic but if you ever have the chance to try this combo  – screw in a 38cm fin and give it a go.  It may set you on a new path!

As an aside, I notice that many recent board cut-outs have become longer, thinner and pushed to the outside edge more than in prior years.
JP SSport
Severne Fox
This seems right somehow (it seems to fit with the flow of things) but I would need to do a comparison between an iSonic and one of Patrik’s boards to reach an honest opinion.

Failing that, I would really like to test Patrik’s F-Race 75 against JP’s Supersport 125.  That would tell us such a lot about so many things!

Good winds 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

2017 Severne Blasting Board


I have been keeping an eye out for promising 2017 blasting boards.
The last post dealt with Fanatic’s Blast and I think the subject of this post is equally exciting.  

Severns’s Fox has broken cover and it looks the business with parallel rails, nice volume under the feet.  The bottom shape is reportedly extremely fast, being comfortable and controlled in wild conditions, allowing the rider to keep on pushing for greater speeds.  Nice!
If it does what it says on the tin this is going to be a board which ticks all the boxes.  It certainly looks the part

The pictures are from the above site where the writer also discusses his experience with the board on the water.  Please have a look at his comments.

The boards come with G10 power box fins specially designed for them.

This is an exciting product from the masters.  I think that the board is manufactured in China by IQC, a composite manufacturer which in itself represents an interesting development – a mainstream board to be made outside of the Cobra factory.  Price war? - I think not unfortunately.

So far I have only seen images of the 105 litre model (105/65/239).  There are bound to be other sizes in the pipeline.

Good winds

Friday, August 5, 2016

New Fanatic Blast 2017


I am back now, having spent some time in hospital having surgery.  Not good but I managed to escape and am at home once more.
While I was away, Fanatic unveiled their new Blast mentioned in my previous post.  Looking at the Blast pictures and vids, I have to say that it looks absolutely right for its designated purpose (fast blasting fun).  They took stuff learned during the development of the Stubby wave board and combined design aspects from the latest Falcons.  

This is all particularly cool in my opinion and I predict that the board will be something special.  It incorporates a new approach, new lines and new shapes. It has parallel edges and a diamond tail – two of my favorite things.  Absent are cut-outs.  No problem! 

Looking right is all very well but the boards need to deliver.  I am quite aware of this so my next goal is to get a ride on a Blast and report back.  I hope Craig and Danny bring one or two with them when they visit in November.  Failing this, the Surf testers may well have one or two Blasts in their testing arsenal this year.  Fingers crossed!

If you are rich you could buy all three sizes but the 115l/66wide would be a really good single board.  Add 3 fins and you have a wide wind-range covered.


Here is a thought about this new concept.  I would be willing to bet that it could serve as a template for a lightwind superboard.
I sense some eye rolling here but bear with me.

You would need to:
·         scale it up to a volume of 140 – 150l,
·         stretch its length to over 245cm
·         increase the width to 86 – 90ish
·         widen the tail (big time).  Have a wide diamond of course
·         insert a deep Tuttle fin box.
·         Provide outboard strap positions in addition to the current options

I can almost guarantee that such a board would be a lightwind rocket delivering equal helpings of speed and fun with a big, easy sail (7.5m upwards)

Something to ponder

Good winds

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Out of "Office" for a while

Hi all

Just a short note to mention that I will be away from the Internet for a while.  I have been trying to run things remotely since Friday but I am struggling.  I tried to reply to Unknown's message but I keep getting shut out.  I am totally out of touch from tomorrow, hopefully back home by Wednesday. (?)

Anyway as soon as I am settled again I will resume posts and hopefully be able to reply to "Unknown's" comment.  He provides some interesting news about Patrik's plan to expand the FRace line with a big, light, fast, hollow model.  Where have I heard that idea before?

Anyway this development, together with Fanatic's 2017 Falcon Lightwind suggests that at least two of the guys are listening to us.  I look forward to seeing what is in store for next season.

Good winds

Thursday, June 30, 2016

North E-Type 6.6 Commentary


As mentioned in the previous post I want to share some thoughts about and give some commentary on this iconic freeride sail.

Initial Impressions  

When we purchased the 6.6, I rigged it on my North Platinum 460 SDM mast.  This is North’s first choice of masts for it.  Their second choice is their 430 SDM and the least favourite mast option is a 430 North RDM.

On the 460 SDM, the sail rigs perfectly.  Once you have tightened the battens the foil is absolutely smooth and as you apply downhaul, it falls off beautifully – a really nice piece of design.  

On the water the sail is powerful for its size, certainly equal to a 7m GA or Vandal sail in this class. The low end is actually quite ferocious and it gets the stickiest of boards planing – no problem.  My first impression was that it is really racy.  It was totally at home on my Falcons 113 and 124 and I had some concern that it may not suit our Tabou 3S 116 very well.  I need not have worried.  It is fantastic with free-move boards – fast, controllable, easy.


The sail comes with trimming marks to help you rig for light, medium or strong winds.  My belief is that you can pull it down to beyond the ‘strong wind” mark for most of your sailing.  It is extremely powerful as mentioned.  I have also discovered that you need not be frightened about applying outhaul.  Once you have dragged it right down, pull it out more than you think you should.  This exaggerated outhaul brings major stability into the rig.  

With the sail rigged like this we had some really fantastic sailing.  My only niggle was that when the wind really picks up the sail can start owning your ass (especially when rigged on a slalom board).  The sensible thing to do in these winds is to rig a smaller sail of course but I always aim to get the widest range possible from my sails and the 460 SDM mast restricts me slightly at the ragged top end.

I have moved away from GA sails and the problem with this as a strategy, is that it leaves you with masts which may not be compatible with your new sails.  I have a Gaastra 430 RDM which I used with my old GA Cross 6.4.   The old Gaastra masts are super stiff and I had a feeling that this stiffness in the RDM mast may just give me controllability and ease without losing stability.
The combo has succeeded beyond my wildest dreams.  The sail is soft and light in the hands now and can be pushed into wild conditions with confidence.  I have to say that rigged, it is not as neat as on the official 460 SDM – it definitely looks a bit dishevelled when you drag it down but the results on the water are just fantastic.
We have now bought an E-Type 5.8m and I will be rigging that on my trusty black Fiberspar RDM which has seen such distinguished service with the 6.0m Cross in violent conditions.

OK that’s enough rambling for one post.
Good winds

BTW I hear rumours that Fanatic has developed a new long, super lightwind Falcon board for 2017.  I would like to think that my blog posts had something to do with this but I’m sure that it is a co-incidence.  
They are also bringing in a board called the Blast – a super fast, super comfortable free-race model for non-racing blasters. How intelligent is that!   Can’t wait!      


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

New Fins and Karo’s new Page


I apologise for the scarce posts, but at this time of year windsurfing is not at the front of the mind. When one is not sailing, other things become important.


Anyway, to start getting ready for the new season (October) I have obtained two new Zulu fins, one for each of the big boards.  

I now have the T-Rex 138 in addition to my beloved Pritchard Replica formula board and will be trying each with different sails.  I felt that I should get the best fins I can find for each board to give each a good chance to shine.  

We obtained a 50cm Zulu fin for the 90cm board and a Zulu 46cm fin for the 85cm T-Rex.  I hope the 46 fin will be big enough – we will see.

The fin in the snaps is the 50cm size.  The 46cm fin is in the T-Rex already.  
These fins are absolutely beautiful - light strong, flexible with a tactile, organic feel in the hand.  
Look at the shot with the box fitting.  Robbie makes this from carbon fibre making it both super strong and super light.  

All in all a piece of art whose superb functionality imparts a sort of voodoo power. 

Karo’s Page

I promised to mention one of Karo’s new online pages.  Regular readers will recall the post in which I mentioned Karo and the fact that she had been chosen by Severne Sails and Zulu fins to represent their respective brands.

The above page link is part of Starboard’s Apparel  site – please have a look at it.
Karo is gathering sponsors at an alarming rate and by the time our new season starts she will be in the perfect position to give windsurfing visitors help with all sorts of purchasing decisions (fins, sails, apparel, harness lines and a lot more).  If you plan on visiting us, please contact Karo in respect of anything windsurfing or water sport related.

In the next post I will discuss the 2016 North E-Type 6.6m sail which we sailed most of last season.  I think that I have managed some fairly significant tweaks to this sail and I will share these with you.

Good winds