Thursday, January 12, 2017

A Suggested Short List of Rough Water, High Speed Boards

Hi

Before I get into the topic I must mention that this blog has been numbered in the top 10 windsurfing blogs by a crowd called blogfeedspot.  

This is not all that significant to me and is probably less so to you.  I’m not sure of the metrics used to evaluate the blogs selected.  

All that aside, I notice some really good sites on their list.  Please have a look at them on the following link:


You will note that some of the blogs are fully on Facebook and Twitter (unlike this one) and all of them have valuable windsurfing related content of one form or another.  Enjoy!

Anyway – to the topic of the day:

If your sailing conditions are anything like ours you will experience some days where slalom sailing is appropriate and great fun.  You will also have many days where bump & jump kit is far more suitable due to choppy water and strong winds.

With this in mind, I have been thinking about a short list of non-slalom boards on the market right now which are fast, fun and controllable.

I have chosen two sizes of board – a 70ish wide range and a 65ish wide range.  I further split these sizes into free-race models and free-ride shapes.

Here are the boards I would include in any short list for this type of board.
 
First, the pure B&J schedules:


   
The Fox and Blast boards have been discussed on these pages many times.  I have never ridden an AtomiQ but the styling of the thing convinces me that it is pretty special.
 
The RRD FreestyleWave (V3 – not the latest one) has always been on my radar and pushed, I would probably pick this board from the line-up.  The latest FSW v4 does not appeal.  They have shortened it and it seems far wavier to me.  Give me the old one any day.  Incidentally Tabou have done exactly the same thing with the latest 3S line.
 
The Exocet Cross must be one of the best rough water boards in existence.  Their designs have some weird kind of magic in them so if you ever have a chance to try one, jump at it.  You may never buy from another windsurfing brand again.  You have been warned.

Here is the second schedule.  This is for speed merchants who need some comfort and control:



You will note that the Fox falls into both B&J and Free-race categories.  I have ridden Joos’s Fox twice now, the second time in perfect conditions.  This board is unlike anything I have ridden before (fantastic directional stability, eye watering speed, comfort over chop and a complete star through gybes).  It fits comfortably into both camps – you would only need to change fins.  

The Fox is possibly a bit too business-like for me.  I need something slightly more laid back and a little more old school.  Having said that - offer me a Fox for a good price and I’ll bite your hand off.

Look at the insane weights on the Futuras.  I also like the large width of the smaller Futura - 97 Litres and 67cm wide!  This indicates that it is a flat board and therefore endowed with good control.  Nice!
 
Given the above options, my ideal board quiver would be:
·      iSonic 117
·      One of the 65ish boards above.  Can’t decide which!
·      A Fanatic Freewave 96l/61cm wide (Textreme from 2015)

The last board I like because it would give me the opportunity to use 3 fins in the swells to play but also to close the side-slots, fit a fast fin into the power-box, and blast in strong winds.  It has a centre back strap but also screw holes for four outboard straps for blasting.  Very nice!

That’s all for now.  I may give you my idea of my ideal sail quiver to go with the above boards.  I don’t want to bore you however so I need to consider whether or not to do this.

All the best
   
              


Thursday, January 5, 2017

New Equipment Cost Discussion and Local Racing Update



Hi

I will provide a link at the end of this post on which you can see some of the local racing but first some commentary following upon Joe Windsurfer’s comments about the high cost of some of the new windsurfing stuff.

Foiling

I have to say that I agree with Joe on this issue - price a new windsurfing foil plus foiling board and feel your eyes water. You have an added problem with new technologies in that they are rapidly evolving so you may spend a whole lot of money only to find that what you have bought has been replaced with something way better! Your money has gone and you can’t sell your redundant stuff - a horrible situation in these difficult times.

The other thing which makes new stuff seem so costly is that we tend to compare it with stuff we already have (the old formula board + fin + two big rigs). The initial cost of all of these things happened long ago and has been forgotten. Your decision is – do I simply continue to use my old stuff in light winds (cost = Zero), or do I invest in some new thing which I may not be able to do, may not like and which is going to require me to mortgage the house and sell wife and kids into slavery. May as well stick with what I have!

Of course if you compare buying a new foiling rig with buying a complete new formula set-up, the costs are far more comparable. Furthermore, as a light wind solution, a foiling set-up is so much more practical. The board and foil are smaller than a 1m wide board plus huge masts, booms and sails. You could use two Severne Converts with your foil (maybe a 6.0m and a 6.7m) and these two sails can also be used with your Freewave board to play in the swells.



Moulded Sails

The next costly technology is the moulding of sails. Here I wonder if there are not far more cost effective options for our sport. The reason for the high costs of North’s technology is the scale to which they have had to cater. Open ocean yachting sails are massive and so is the cost of moulding them. Windsurf sails by comparison are tiny so here are some facts to consider:

  • Moulding technology is ubiquitous and very well understood across many industries.

  • We know how to make forms and we know how to mould a substrate over a form.
  • North have developed the high tech tapes which form their sail bodies. They are super-secretive about them. There are however, countless clever materials guys who could formulate comparable (and maybe even superior) tapes to use in our moulded sails.
  • Tapes can be hand applied on something as small as a windsurfing sail - no need for expensive, computerized tape heads. 
  • Modern scanners can be used to scan any windsurfing sail in 3D. Forming software is capable of converting the scan into a moulding template ready to be milled.
  • Milling machines are common

All of the above points suggest that the making of moulded windsurf sails could in theory, be done locally in small, diversified facilities at far lower cost than we are currently faced with from the big lofts. 


We are not even discussing 3D printing yet and this technology could present even more options. The big thing is that all of the dimensions for any design can be stored digitally which means they can be transmitted to any part of the world in seconds.

I’m not claiming that this approach is without problems (how do you retain talented designers if every good sail they design is going to be copied in hundreds of moulding facilities around the world, undermining the companies employing those designers?). I don’t know.



Inflatable Boards

The final thing is inflatable, high performance boards. Once again the technologies to build these things are well known. Hundreds of factories around the world make all sorts of inflatable and semi-inflatable craft. I suppose that the main things are to get:

  • the required bottom shape created accurately in carbon

  • the required rigidity around mast track, fin box and footstrap areas
  • weight reduced and strength increased to levels acceptable to finicky windsurfers 

Once you have nailed these aspects, surely any maker of inflatable and semi-inflatable craft could knock out any number of boards – no Cobra factory required!


Our Racing


Our winds have howled and the leading racers have shown unbelievable skill. Danny and Craig from Fanatic have demonstrated exactly how good the 2018 Fanatic/North kit is going to be.

I noticed Ruben Petrisie from World of Windsurf digital magazine on the beach and see that he has a whole section on their site about our racing. He has included some nice vids and the results after each day.

Here is the link to his site:

http://www.worldofwindsurf.com/

We have some of the contestants staying with us including Julien Maurel (scary good Mauritian windsurfer) and Jean de Falbaire (scary fast Mauritian kite foiler). Julien was riding an RRD prototype at Saldanha (see day 2 video) and was absolutely cooking. In one of the heats he was way ahead of the stellar field but slipped on the deck (proto’s have weak anti-slip as you can imagine) at his gybe and fell in.

Karo is holding her own in the storm conditions and her husband Charl is taking names on fast free-ride kit.

Old readers will remember Hennie (local speed sailor) and may be wondering why he is so far down the rankings. He chose not to windsurf this year and has been using the racing to test and tune his foil kite.

OK that is all for now

Good winds
















Monday, January 2, 2017

Local Racing and some New Equipment

Hi


I know I said that I would be discussing the costs of some of the new technologies but this needs some quiet thought and there is too much going on right now.  We have racing on our lagoon and some high powered internationals have turned up.

The racing is to begin today and our winds promise to be ballistic.  Not so good for the free-sailors and to be frank, not so good for the racers either.  Anyway we will see how the top guys handle the wildness.
 
Joos finally got his hands on a Severne Fox 105 board which he is considering buying.  I clipped my North E-Type 6.6 onto the board and took it for a spin in light, squirrelly wind/ demon chop.  I planed all the way out and all the way back but was scratching at times.  Not ideal conditions then, but what a machine!  When powered up the board is absolutely composed regardless of chop levels.  Good speed is reached quickly and easily.  The front of the board cuts through the chop and the back seems to dissipate any remaining bumpiness giving a totally settled ride.  Gybing is super easy as I suspected it would be.   The standard Fox fin is great.  I would invest in one or two smaller sizes for overpowered sailing but as your main fin, the G10 36cm blade supplied is excellent and bound to become a close friend in time.

Joos asked my opinion as to whether he should buy the Fox.  Yes, yes, yes!  I would buy this board in a heart-beat.  It seems to have been made specifically with our local conditions in mind.  Even with my weight being more than that of Joos, I would still opt for the 65cm wide size.
   
If I were ever to buy a Fox 105, my ideal medium wind board would then be an iSonic 117 (light version of course) and between these two boards I could cover most of my sailing (with a few sails and fins of course).  For the time being I would hold onto our T-Rex and Bic FW 1.3 for the really light stuff but keep a keen eye on all the latest developments in foiling which I am convinced will become the light wind solution of choice for all of us.

Raffi from Surf n Curve (Severne agent) is here for the racing and brought the new Severne Reflex-8 sails and an exciting new range of Severne racing masts.  These are the Apex Pro line and promise to be something very special.  They are SDM at the base with a slim, whippy top section.  This is not a new concept of course but Severne seems to have taken it to new levels.  The slim top softens the sail but has super quick recovery rates so you have some softness without losing any stability.  Please look out for these sticks if you are serious about slalom racing in 2017.

Erik Beale was out on the water yesterday hitting speeds of 38k on slalom equipment.  He had a really interesting slalom fin proto-type on the slalom board.  I will not describe the shape to you in case it is secret but this is not a slow fin!  When he was done on the slalom stuff, Erik took out his speed board (Patrik on Gasoil fin) for some “proper speed”.  I don’t think I have ever seen anyone going as fast across our launching beach before.  Civilians were frightened!


OK, I think that Ellie and I will make our way down to the beach to watch the racing. The skipper’s meeting was scheduled for 09:00 but knowing windsurfers as I do I am willing to bet that nothing will happen until mid-day. We may rig some freeride kit, have a short blast and maybe sail alongside the racers to get an idea of their speed.



Talk to you soon

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Seasons Greetings and two Race Sails from Severne

Hi

I had planned to respond to Joe Windsurfer’s comments regarding the exorbitant costs of some of the emerging technologies within our sport.  I will do this in the next post however.

I use this post to wish all readers well for the festive season.  Good winds and everything of the best for 2017.

I note that Severne have the new Reflex and Overdrive sails on the site now.
 
REFLEX

                          














I don’t seem much difference visually.  I suspect that they have just refined and perfected something that was pretty near perfect to start with.
  
I do note with relief that the length of the overhanging batten above the boom end has reduced slightly.  We are moving in the right direction!  In a few more years it may just disappear completely!


OVERDRIVE

On the Overdrive they have done away with 2016’s complicated shaping at the boom end, opting for simplicity in 2017.  Much better (imo).





















With its option of being used on RDM masts, this sail has to be on your short list if you are looking for an easy race sail with blistering performance.
 
Other sails I would include on that list incidentally, would be the Avanti Condor, North S-Type, Ezzy Lion, Ka Koncept and maybe the NX from Sailworks.


OK that’s all for now.  Our wind looks good from about 14:00 today so Xmas lunch just became Xmas dinner.  Sailing comes first!

All the very best

Phil 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Three Windsurfing Developments to Watch

Hi

Here are three developments within our sport which we all need to be watching:

3Di Moulded Sails


North have been moulding sails in 3D for a while now.  Their focus has been the ocean yacht racing guys but they are going to be using the technology for windsurf sails.   What is achieved is a sail which has been moulded in 3D rather than one which has been stitched together from different patches, each shaped to create the overall design.

They create the desired sail shape on a design computer and the resulting pattern is fed to a huge table on which the shape is created.  The surface of the table is actually flexible and sits on a huge arrangement of pneumatically controlled rams.  Every part of the table surface can be raised or lowered (individually or as part of an array) to create the belly and flat areas of the sail “in flight” as the yachties say.  All the rams are inter-connected and obviously connected to the design computer.

Once the shape of the sail has been finalised and represented on the table, the sail material in tape form (carbon fibre, aramid, dyneema and binding agent), is applied to the 3D form, vacuumed down with plastic film, heated and cured. The tapes are mechanically applied with large, pre-programmed robot heads.  

Batten pockets are incorporated into the design and load path re-enforcement is achieved by simply adding extra tape layers across specific areas (all pre-programmed of course) Very cool! 
Sorry for the long winded description.
 
The yachting industry is the only marine sports fraternity with deep enough pockets to have made this technology possible but it is now bedded down, working and paid for.

North feel that their windsurfing arm could now benefit from the process which yields ultra light, ultra strong, ultra accurate and perfectly repeatable products. Yay!

Please have a look at this video of Ben Proffitt interviewing two of the North guys who have brought along one of the new sail prototypes.


This is interesting stuff which I will be watching over the next two years.

Inflatable Speed Board


RRD took the best aspects of their inflatable freeride board and incorporated them into the design of an inflatable speed board.  John Skye sailed the machine with a 7m sail and thought he would need to stay close in for a smooth ride to get some decent speed.  The wind was no good however so he went into the choppy water where he easily reached 34 knots in the stronger wind.  He says that the air ride buffers you and you just go faster.  (WTF?)

Here is the link to his interview:

Here is a video of John hitting indecent speeds on this unlovely piece of kit.
http://www.windsurf.co.uk/rrd-inflatable-speed-wave-board/

A proper board you can carry in a back-pack.  Very interesting!


Hydrofoiling


Hydrofoil windsurfing has been around for a long time with AHD probably the longest running promoter of the concept.  More and more designers are jumping onto this train however and this year the PWA held its first hydrofoil race which Antoine won.

I have to say that the concept is attractive to me but I have a few reservations regarding the current equipment.  Whenever I watch someone hydrofoiling it seems to me to be quite a balancing act.  The stance is really upright and I don’t see anyone really hooking in, leaning back and just blasting.  The board seems really keen to nose dive if the sailor should sheet in too far and I’m not sure why the fin has to be so long.

I know nothing of this technology but it seems to me that the boards need an additional foil somewhere in the centre of the board or maybe a broad foil at the back of the board with two smaller side foils towards the front.  The rig should be super stable in my view – not super unstable.  I also think that the foiled board should be sailed leaning towards the rider like the foil kites I see.  

We need to be able to hook in and fly without feeling that we are standing on top of a tightrope.  As I said I have absolutely no expertise about this so these are merely vague opinions and wishful thinking. Anyway I am sure that one day, foiling will be windsurfing’s solution for having a blast in light winds.       
         
Good winds


   


Monday, November 28, 2016

Some New equipment Feedback

Hi
Sorry for the long delay between posts.  My time has been split between sailing and being exhausted from sailing.  No energy for anything else!

Anyway, Raffaello, our Severne agent, arrived with some awesome new Severne stuff on Saturday (hopefully a Fox in the near future) but also with some boards (PC2) we have not seen on our shores before.  They are by Phil Carbon – the well known (and aptly named) speed-board maker.  

Phil has teamed up with Anders Bringdal and they have produced some very tasty board ranges.  Raffi, being a hard core racing man, brought along a few slalom sizes from the new partnership.

Charl (Karo’s husband/master sailor) and Raffi were absolutely rocking these machines with Severne Reflexes/Zulu fins.  Very impressive.  

Charl tells me that the 71 is much easier to control than Joos’s Manta 71 (which he knows quite well).  I would really like to try a PC2 - 75cm slalom and report back on it.  The boards feel slightly heavy in the hand but not excessively so.  PC2 give no weights on their site.

The testers are here and have some really interesting boards.  When they are not at Swartriet, (our local wave venue), testing wave equipment, they have been testing free-race/fast freeride boards.  

They have Fanatic’s Blast, Severne’s Fox, AHD’s Freerace, Patrik’s Freerace, Lorch’s Glider and JP’s equivalent.  All the boards are around 70cm wide.  Very interesting.  

I asked about the Blast and the Fox being the two most interesting boards to me.  They recon the Blast is an absolute hoot which does exactly what Fanatic claim – fast, stable, good over chop, fun to jump etc.  They stress however that it is not a freerace board like the Patrik.  

The Fox too performs exactly as we would expect with blistering speed over all conditions and a cork-like ability to float through gybes.  One of the guys said that there seemed to be some small discrepancies between the shapes on the left and right underside of the board when they brought the straight edge out but that these seem to have no effect on performance.  If there are manufacturing anomalies, I’m sure that Severne will remedy them going forward.
  
I have been riding the old F2 T-Rex I spoke about a while ago.  The board is taking names!  The lightness and length of the thing make it compatible with a 46cm fin and soft sails down to 6.6m.  A miraculous buy which is spreading alarm and despondency among fellow windsurfers in lightwind conditions.  Very nice!

I have been using camless sails with the T-Rex but a while ago Joos (Karo's dad as regular readers will know), let me click on Karo’s Reflex 7.8 to see how it would go.  I was concerned that the old board shape might not mesh with modern race sail architecture.  The T-Rex handled things as if it had been specifically designed for the Reflex - no problems whatsoever.  

I have to say that the Reflex surprised me with its lightness and ease of use.  I’m not sure how they are going to improve on this model.  If you are considering a 7.8m race sail you could wait for the version _8 to come out and get a good price on a version _7.  You will not be disappointed.

In the next post I will say a few words about some interesting developments in our sport which we all need to keep an eye on.

Talk to you soon (I hope)

Phil
 


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The New 2017 Severne Fox - Specifications

Hi

I have found some specifications for the new Severne Fox board.  Severne is extremely secretive about its new products and will only post details on its site when it is absolutely ready to do so.  I’m sure that you all know this.  I searched high and low for anything about the machine but could only find the bare minimum.  

Anyhow, the seriousness of the situation caused me to mobilize some secret abilities I possess to help us.  I speak of three powers which I unleash in times of extreme anguish - namely:
  •          Ninja skills
  •          Jedi powers
  •          General sneakiness

I hasten to re-assure you that these powers are only ever used in times of great crisis and only where they will improve the lives of others

Anyway, by deploying my three gifts, I managed to unearth this material from a tiny, unguarded corner of the Internet.

I’m sure that it will all be posted on the Severne site soon but it is fun to present you guys with an early view.  

Enjoy