Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Some 2019 Equipment


Hi

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.

Gators

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

Phil

Monday, October 8, 2018

New Developments, Goldilocks Boards and a new Zulu fin


Hi

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:

Duotone

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
Phil   
   

Friday, June 22, 2018

Some Improvements to PWA Commentary and a new Board from JP


Hi

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

PWA

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
Phil

Friday, May 18, 2018

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


Hi


PWA

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   



Wednesday, May 2, 2018

News about Patrik Models, Foils, Boards and Fins


Hi

I have been waiting for some of the 2018 equipment ranges which have still not been introduced.  

Patrik

Patrik finally introduced his new slalom range which now includes two construction options.  He is still not showing his hollow boards which would make three.

Anyway the two constructions on the site are GBM (high spec) and GET (lower spec).  The red GET boards are quite attractive, not much heavier but more flexible (probably good for control in the smaller sizes).
    
What concerns me slightly is that the two construction lines seem to be different designs.  Here is the 130l version of each construction.  Have a look and see what you think:



All the sizes seem to show slight differences between grey and red models.  What gives?

Industry Concerns

I am still waiting for MB slalom and free ride models, most of the Avanti sail line, Naish’s 2018 Starship etc.  Angulo may have thrown in the towel.  They have had no new stuff on their site since 2016 and Peter Bijl has nothing on the sales part of his site.
 
These things are easy to complain about but the sad thing is that they all point to troubles in the industry.  The traditional windsurfing market is shrinking and everyone (each supplier and consumer) needs to consider the way forward.
 
Suppliers clearly need to broaden their customer base with kiting, SUP, foiling, apparel pure surfing etc, with windsurfing being a shrinking part of what they offer.  The industry also needs to develop a business model to give the best chance of surviving.  

I’m not sure what such a model may be.  Maybe everyone signs on to the central manufacture of accessories (lines, extensions, mast feet, booms etc), standardized and manufactured in one place to contain costs.  I’m thinking three levels of each thing (high tech, medium tech and budget).   Each supplier would then merely choose a technology from the factory, have its branding affixed and take bulk orders.
        
Another approach could be to decentralise the whole thing, manufacturing small quantities of equipment in a range of small facilities spread across the windsurfing globe.  This could be done using a combination of clever licensing agreements and strict quality control together with modern manufacturing and materials technologies.  Such an approach could be both lean and flexible.   I may share some ideas about this in a future post.

Anyway, here are three nice new developments:

Foil

Mert Ozener alerted me to RRD’s new aluminium foil,  sporting an adaptable mast head which can be configured to accept a whole range of fin boxes.  
This is really intelligent and commendable.   

The pity is that it is only available in aluminium.  I suppose CF is more difficult to set bolts into.  They prefer to mould everything into one piece for integrity.  Anyway - well done RRD.



Fin

Gareth Hill mailed me from England saying that he has ordered a Fly-Fin from FRPGear.  Gareth is one of our local sailors who has homes both here and in England, allowing him to live (and sail) in perpetual summer.  He is also a competent windsurfer who will provide feedback on the fin’s performance in terms we can all understand and relate to.

The guys at FRP have produced a large (and slightly bewildering) variety of shapes for their fins and have even made their own board.  Fantastic!

 
I’m not sure if all of this stuff works for normal high performance blasters but I admire the energy, enthusiasm and inventiveness of these guys.  

Their fabrication is top-notch because of their history with the technologies.  Gareth is going to give us feedback on the fin he has ordered and I can’t wait.

Boards

Danny Bruch is in the process of establishing a new windsurfing brand.  It will be known as Diamond Boards and it promises to be something special.


Danny, as most of you will know, is a world ranked windsurfer who spent many years developing boards for Starboard.  

He has moved to Tenerife where he has organised a manufacturing facility very close to his local windy beach.  Very nice.
  
The set-up provides an opportunity to manufacture in the morning and test the very next day, an example of the lean, flexible approach mentioned above.  

Danny compares his concept with the established Cobra factory based approach where you fly to Thailand, fashion your proto-types with the factory, fly to a suitable testing venue with the proto-types, test them, amend shapes where necessary, fly back to Thailand and furnish the final amended plans for volume production.  This is a hugely wasteful process and Danny’s set-up is so much more elegant.    

Diamond Boards will offer their own proprietary shapes covering all the windsurfing disciplines but will also offer the opportunity for you to specify something tailored to your own needs.  
Say you really like your Starboard Kode Feewave, but would prefer it with a power box centre fin.  You could specify such a thing, lodge your payment and await delivery.  Very cool!

Good winds         

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

New Equipment from North, Severne and MB

Hi


Here are some recent equipment developments which are quite interesting.

North Sails
Kai Hopf and the North slalom team are in Tenerife working on the 2019 Warp race sail.  

There is nothing new in this but on viewing the video, I noticed that a few of the protos had only 6 battens.  

At first I thought I was seeing things but just look at the stills I took from the video.

It seems that they are exploring 6 battens in the smaller sizes.




 
Is it just me or does the mast sleeve look quite narrow?


Look at the control issues with the 7 batten sail compared to the absolute composure of the 6 rod machine.  These foils are being sailed right on the ragged edge of course so these cuts are important for us to assess the two designs under pressure.

   
Action footage of 6 batten against 7 batten counterparts show very little difference in speed - if anything, 6 seems to beat 7.  Nice!  

Please have a look at the footage on the North site and see what you make of it.

North, if you are going to make some 6 batten Warp sizes, I salute you.  Very, very cool!

Severne

The Severne Dyno is up on the site with pictures, specs and tech info.  

Thanks Severne for one of the most elegant blasting+wave boards on the planet.  

They only need to create a similarly awesome slalom board now to become a complete one-stop-shop for every windsurfing need.

Here is a video from Severneshop.com in the UK.  They speak to James Hooper, the board’s designer.

Of further interest to me is the Hex4 system which involves the use of one tool to tighten battens, footstrap screws, fin bolts/grub screws etc.

Regular readers will recall me bemoaning the fact that nothing like this existed.  A few of you told me about Flikka who use the approach but here is one of the big players finally embracing the concept.  At last!

The guys discuss this system from about 5min into the video.

Here is the link:



MB Boards

The company MB has always made fins as most of you will know.  Recently they started making boards as well.  

Being a sucker for things new and unusual, I swooped onto the site to have a look.

MB started with freestyle and wave type boards – an obvious choice given the snowboard – like outline of their products.
 
Balz Muller (a madman), is using MB boards now and says that they have revolutionised his sailing.





I can understand how the shapes would work for wave and freestyle but freeride and slalom? - not so sure but really keen to find out.

Unfortunately both freeride and slalom lines are still under development so no specs and no hope of any third party reviews just yet.






This is an ex-demo slalom board which they are selling from their site.  It just looks like a whole lot of fun with its easy strap positions and curious shape.

It could be exactly what the doctor ordered (providing it goes as good as it looks of course).  

Looking at the reduced wetted area around the fin, I think it could be very fast indeed but who knows.
   
Someone – please buy this board, use it and get back to us with your opinion.
 
Better still MB, send it to me and I will review, assess and post my impressions!

That’s all for now

Phil