Monday, January 31, 2011

Yesterday's Sail

I started early in the day on my Falcon 104 and Koncept 6.6 with the new Select S11 37cm.  The fin feels very similar to my old SL7 but it is definitely more refined, better and smoother on all points of sail.  They have taken an excellent shape and made some very small enhancements. Impressive.

The wind built throughout the day and I changed down on the board (89l Falcon) and held on.  Andy was out on the Reflex2 7.8 and Gareth on his trusty Force 5.3.  This range of equipment being sailed at the same time demonstrates how good our modern windsurfing equipment has become.  I took the Reflex2 7.0 for a spin and must say I was right on the edge. I had not rigged the sail myself and the downhaul was not enough for me but despite this I was able to cope in winds which a year ago would have seen me out on a 6.0 or even a 5.0.  Because they were sailing together, we were able to compare the old Code Red sails with the new Reflexes as they hauled over rough water.  Interesting - the new sails seem to open up a lot more and somehow allow the rider to maintain board trim at speed over the bumps.
A few national slalom guys were also blasting around on full slalom kit.  These guys really are in another league - so fast and controlled in wild conditions.  The new Pryde race sails are unbelievably fast and impressive.

Holding the Reflex2 at such high speeds reminded me of the reasons we non-racers favor camless sails for wild blasting.  You are just so much more relaxed and the sailing is so much more enjoyable.  For me race sails and full slalom boards are essential for light to moderate conditions.  As soon as things get hairy ditch the cams and have some fun!

The body is complaining badly from all the recent sailing so chemicals have had to be used.  Cataflam with some medicinal Captain Morgan and Coke was the remedy of choice.  Not good for you of course (the Cataflam - not the Captains) but desperate times call for desperate measures.  

Sunday, January 30, 2011


The wind is set to blow all day today building all the way through so we will be able to choose early/big equipment/easy sailing or later/small stuff /wide eyes.  Anthony our supplier has lent me one of the new Select S11 fins to try so I look forward to that.  I'll report back.

The subject of windsurfing masts has really bugged me over the years.  It is also a bit technical and can be extremely boring to anyone who knows about masts or who is not interested in statistics and measurements.  If you are one of these people please disregard this post.

If you have the stomach for it here we go -
Take a plausible scenario - A friend is leaving for London and is selling his windsurfing kit.  I buy his Maui Sails TR-6 7.0 for a good price.  I have two 460 masts (a Pryde X9 460 and a Powerex ZRace 460).  Are either of these compatible with my new sail?  Maui Sails gives me no information on the mast bend characteristics which the sail was designed around.  Pryde tells me nothing about the bend characteristics of their mast and neither does Powerex.  I have to resort to trial and error and even if the sail feels OK with one of the masts is it optimal?  Could I be getting far better performance with another mast?  I just don't know.

Thankfully the industry has standardized stiffness across the sizes (460 mast = IMCS25) but bend characteristics are a different matter.  The extent to which the mast top flexes in relation to the bottom section when under tension gives the mast its shape and this shape provides the template for the mast sleeve.  To achieve the desired air flow over the foil the designer also takes into account the way the mast is going to behave under stress.  From all of this it becomes obvious that a mast which works with one sail may fail completely with another but how are we supposed to know which goes with which?

Bend characteristics are measured using a standardized method so all the info we need is available but for some reason not shared.  There are exceptions of course - Sailworks give us all the info we need on their masts but very few of the other guys do this.

Bend characteristics are calculated as follows:
The mast is placed horizontally on two supports, one 5cm from the base of the mast and one 5cm in from the tip.  The supports are thus 450cm apart for a 460 mast.  The supports will be placed against a wall or board.  Shoot a chalk line between the two supports.  You then measure and mark the centre point of the mast.  You also need the "top mark" (half way between the tip and mid point) and the "bottom mark" (half way between mid point and base)
Tie a piece of string round the mid point and suspend a 30kg weight from the mast.  Measure the deflection from your chalk line to the centre point of the now flexed mast.  Say for example that the deflection at the centre point is 10cm.  Now measure the deflection at the top mark.  Say it is 7.5cm.  Measure the deflection at the bottom mark.  Say 6.4cm.
We now have the stats we need.  We have a mast with a bend of 75% top/64% bottom.  Deduct the bottom number  from the top number (in this example 11) and you get the curve Delta.  A low curve Delta indicates a hard top mast whereas a high Delta indicates a more flex top design.  Here are the categories specified by the industry:

                     Delta           Classification

                    -6                Hard Top
                  7-9                Hard Top/Constant Curve
                 10-12            Constant Curve
                 13-15            Constant Curve/Flex Top
                 16-18            Flex Top
                 19-21            Flex Top/Super Flex Top
                 22-                Super Flex Top      

To get back to our example with the Maui Sails TR-6, the fact is that neither my Pryde nor my Powerex masts are going to work.  Both Pryde and Powerex masts have Deltas of around 15.  Maui Sails are designed around masts with Deltas of less than 10.  If I had a Gaastra Gold mast or a Severne Enigma these would almost certainly have worked with my new sail but why could no-one tell me?

Masts with the same bend characteristics can still differ in performance of course depending on carbon content and quality of construction.  A state of the art high carbon mast should recover more quickly after deflection than something cheaper giving a feel that is crisp, light and exciting where the cheaper model can feel a bit leaden even if it works with the sail.

I leave you with a website address which gives some broad categorizations for various mast brands:

Good winds - talk to you soon

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Some Thoughts on Sail Quivers

Gareth's venerable Naish Force 5.3 is on its last legs and he needs to decide on a replacement.  The options are Gaastra Poison 5.4, Gaastra Cross 5.2, Severne NCX 5.5, Severne Gator 5.3.  As mentioned in previous posts we are Gaastra Cross fans here but I would favor the Gator if I were Gareth.  Between the sails and recommended masts the Severne set up is almost 1kg lighter than the equivalent Gaastra set up.  The new red and black Gator colours are very cool and the 2011 models just look right to me.  I rode a friend's 2010 Gator 5.3 not long ago and found that it needs a bit more care to set up correctly than the Cross but when you get it right it is super comfortable and fast.

This all got me thinking about what an ideal sail quiver for our conditions would look like.  I have in mind an aggressive sailor of 75 to 90kg .  For our particular mix of conditions I believe that you need a mixture of high performance cammed sails with soft sails in all sizes under 7.0m.  I would choose Reflex2's in 7.0 and 7.8 with a Gaastra Nitro5 9.0m for the cammed sails (we have rediscovered the old Nitro 5's here - they are light, easy to rig, rotate beautifully and on Gulftech or Fiberspar masts are fast and easy to control)  Ellie, my partner sails an old Nitro5 9.0 easily in quite strong winds.
The soft sails would be Gaastra Cross (6.4/6.0/4.8) or Severne Gator (6.5/6.0/5.3/4.7).  You could have the big soft sail in a Gaastra Savage or Severne's NCX pro if you wanted more speed.  

If we had access to a wider range of sail brands you could add Sailworks Hucker (6.6/5.6/4.8) or Sailloft Hamburg Bionic (6.7/5.9/5.3/4.7).  Like Severne with their Gator range, Sailloft Hamburg offers their Bionic range which starts with wave sails in the small sizes and gets more slalom orientated as the sizes increase - a nice concept.  Ka's Koyote camless sails are great as well of course and have been clocked at speeds of over 40knots.  Feather light as well.  Awesome!


Thursday, January 27, 2011


Here are some random thoughts and opinions on the subject of fins.  Our supplier sells Select so most of us use these fins.  As stated previously the old SL7 (now the S11) is a firm favorite providing a good mix of upwind ability and straight line speed.  In rough water we use the old Evo Lightning which has a bigger rake and is therefor more forgiving.  I suppose the current equivalent is the S09 which I have yet to sail but which I'm sure is a great fin.  Select's SRX Free Slam which replaces the old SuperX looks like the ultimate freeride fin for our conditions.

I think we all need two lines of slalom fins - one line for flat and the other for rough water.

Deboichet has the SL2 for power and the SL4 for control in rough water.  I have tried these fins and was very impressed with both of them.  Class products and fast fast fast.

C3 has the Venom for rough water and the Sting for power sailing.  Peter Volwater was raving about the Sting when he was here last year.  The C3 fins really look the part as well.  Boogie is one of the design stars of our sport and strikes me as one of those gifted but meticulous and uncompromising individuals who need to get everything 100% right.  Probably not the easiest person to work with but so good for pushing continuous improvement in windsurfing fins.

I have not ridden Black Project fins but hear good things about them.  They are G10 fins and from the look of it the Type R will be easy to control at speed (a nice rounded tip).

An interesting fin which I have been keeping an eye on is from Smartfins.  These are two part fins which flex along their length and they claim that this makes it possible to get the same power from smaller fins.  They have only had their 32cm model on sale for the last 2 years however so I'm suspecting that there may be problems with the other sizes.  Their racing results were good in 2009 so the concept looks as if it works but where are the other sizes?

Sonntag Fins is a brand that I have always wanted to sail.  They just look right to me and I have to say that if I lived in Europe I would have tested them long ago and would probably be using nothing else.

My friend Pit from Switzerland uses Hurricane Fins which he rates quite highly.  I borrowed 2 sizes from him last year and I agree - they are great fins.  They are really thin and extremely light so I am always a bit nervous about damage.

OK that's enough for now.  Cheers and speak to you soon    

Today's Sailing

The wind has blown all day and I was on the water just after 13:00 on my 89l Falcon and beloved Ka Koncept 6.6.  I held this all afternoon - overpowered but in control.  Gareth came out on his 5.3 on a 90l Blast and had   a tremendous sail.  The fact that our sails are so far apart in size got us talking about whether it is better to be overpowered or comfortable.  I believe that the answer depends on what you are trying to achieve.  I always use this type of sailing as an opportunity to practice sailing fast over rough water and concentrate on keeping the hammer down for longer and longer stretches.  My aim is to improve to a point where I can be comfortable going at full tilt for each entire leg.  I'm not there yet and catch myself slacking off as soon as I am ahead and after each bad tailwalk.  Not good.  The answer as I see it, is that if you want to get the most enjoyment from your session, rig down to a size where you feel you can keep the hammer down for the entire leg.  This will provide max fun and some excitement.  My training sessions (like today) comprise max excitement with quite a bit of terror thrown in.
The secret to sailing overpowered is to balance the power of the sail positioning the force right onto the fin.  This you do mainly with downhaul and outhaul.  Too much outhaul can bring the centre of effort forward making the board feel heavy and can result in spinouts (because the force is focussed in front of the fin - no bite)  Too little outhaul and the centre of effort moves back resulting in the force bearing behind the fin causing the board to tailwalk.  Anyway quite a big topic which also involves the sail (some sails push down while others lift up), footstrap and mast foot placement.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Some Random Thoughts About Sailors and Brands in the PWA

Gaastra has lost Kevin Pritchard and Finian from their slalom team - 2 big losses in my view.  They are left with Arnon, Cedric, Ross and Alberto Menegatti for the men's fleet.  I'm not sure that this group are going to win any significant victories in 2011 (fine sailors though they all are).  This has to be a concern for Gaastra.  They did pick up Valerie Arrighetti for their ladies team however, and this can only be a good thing (not good for Loft Sails but Loft has got Ben vd Steen this year to even things out)  Ben is someone who really is capable of winning races.  

In 2009 Josh Angulo was a force on the tour.  He was always at or near the front and I'm sure that this resulted in sales of Angulo slalom boards and of Maui Sails.  In 2010 he signed up with Gun sails and came precisely nowhere in the 2010 slalom racing.  A no win situation for all as far as I can see.  Maui Sails loses a great ambassador, Gun Sails shows that its slalom sail can turn a good sailor into a bad one,  people tuning in to the racing for the first time get the impression that Angulo boards are slow.....  Nobody wins.

As mentioned above, Finian has left Gaastra and I don't see him on any of the other team lists.  He is an important sailor being one of the two or three guys capable of giving Antoine a run so it will be interesting to see where he ends up (back with Pryde maybe??).

Gonzalo has left Maui Sails and gone to North/Fanatic.  Really good for North and Fanatic, very bad for Exocet and Maui Sails.  Maui Sails has only Peter Volwater as a top sailor.  They have Phil Mcgain of course but he doesn't compete on the world tour.  Maui Sails can end up slipping out of view.  Not good for their brand.

As I mentioned in an earlier posting, Naish Sails hasn't launched its Stealth sail or its SP Slalom board yet and I'm wondering if they have eliminated these models from their line-up.  A pity if they have.  If they have opted out of slalom then where will Sarah Herbert end up this year?

Reflex2 7.8 Maiden Flight

The wind started off quite light yesterday and I was on the water at about 10:00 with my Ram 7.8 and Fanatic 104 with 37cm SL7.  A bit small for the conditions but because the whole rig is so balanced it gets planing pretty quickly.  Andy rigged the Reflex2 and initially put it onto his Manta 125l.  The results were mixed and he didn't seem that comfortable.  We learned that the small v shaped crease we saw in the luff sleeve of the 7.0 the other day was also in the 7.8 confirming that it is part of the design.  Relief.  We also learned that it is very easy to over tighten the battens with the reflex batten tensioners and had to back off a bit on two of them.
Anyway Andy continued making small adjustments and eventually changed to his 110l Manta with Select Evo Lightning fin.  These are the fins we rate for rough water but they don't have the bite or power of the SL7's.  This set up was good but wasn't getting away from me.  The winds were still light and the water flat.

What happened next was bad news for everyone not riding a Reflex.  The wind started building and Andy started hauling away from everyone (2 Code Reds, a 2010 Vapor and my Ram).  He changed his fin to an SL7 and as the wind picked up even more so did his lead on the long runs.  The last run for me was a long 4 leg race incorporating a deep downwind blast with some fairly stiff upwind tacks.  I had become totally overpowered and crashed out at the downwind bouy.  Andy hit the beach about 1km ahead of me.  The wind increased and Gareth my sailing partner turned up at about 14:00, rigged his 5.3 wave sail with 90l board and was soon blasting.  Andy just kept going with the 7.8 getting faster and faster.  I'm not sure I've seen a 7.8 being held so comfortably in such strong winds.

One recurring problem he did find was a tendency for the back of the sail to hit the water occasionally - especially on upwind legs.  This could be due to his sailing stance, mast foot position or simply an aspect of the sail one needs to adjust for.  My own feeling (as I mentioned earlier) is that the extended batten above the boom results in increased sail area above the boom and to balance this you need to increase the foot area some how.  The foot of the sail then ends up a little fuller than one is used to.  This is just a thought.

Anyway a fantastic day's sailing and a revelation about the capabilities of the Reflex2 in the hands of a proper sailor.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Boards 2

To continue on the subject of boards I will just mention some additional concerns and observations.

One of my problems with the industry is the shortage of small, fast freeride boards.  I need a board that is no more than 80litres in volume and 56-no more than 58cm wide.  Once you get into these sizes a small freewave is the closest thing most manufacturers provide.  This often comes with a US box.  We have a need here for small freeride boards.  Naish's Grand Prix would probably do and, as I've said, Thommen's CrossX sounds like a great thing but where are the other manufacturers?  Surely a Rocket 80l would sell.  It would certainly be used here on our windier days.  Fanatic used to make the Hawk in 93l but now their smallest Hawk is 100l.  The 93l board was too big for smallest in range and the current 100l is way too big!
Tabou have the 3S which I have not ridden but which looks like the right sort of thing.  What spoils the 3S range for me is the weights - far too heavy.  If pushed to buy something in this segment and if funds were available I suppose I would buy the new Fanatic Freewave 75l (team edition of course) and the 95l Freewave textreme (a nice development by Fanatic).  I would fit Select SRX Free Slam fins to enhance the straight line  performance.

Boards which would be interesting to ride are Marco Copello's DPA ranges.  These boards employ what he calls the "bioflex" system which is a semi-flexible underside which tilts when the board is turning and flattens out while going straight to give you a board which turns like a wave board and blasts like a slalom board.  Not a new idea (I seem to remember Mistral had a flex-tail board in the dim and distant past) but Marco has refined and improved the concept.  He is one of the innovators in our sport.  He also designs for HTS Boards another company not familiar to us here but which has some really tasty products.  I like the look of Marco's products - carbon fiber everywhere - very cool.

Mistral have dropped out of sight (certainly here in South Africa) and one wonders what happened.  They were the main players at the start of it all.  Their current range looks great and with Anders at the helm you know that every board is going to do its job perfectly.  I recon their Screamer is every bit as good as the Tabou Rocket and maybe a bit more involving to ride.

AHD's Fury looks like the sort of thing we could use here but the smallest board is 88l/58.5cm wide.  A bit too big for what I have in mind and also too heavy.

Exocet have always been an interesting brand and I had a good look at the models the testers brought with them.  Their freeride models look nice but are (surprise) too heavy for me.  Incidentally they have lost Gonzalo Costa Heuvel as a rider to Fanatic this year and so will not be seen so much on the PWA tour.  Not good

Ok to bed.  Tomorrow's wind is expected to be light so we may be lucky enough to see the Reflex2 7.8 on the water.  I will rig my trusty Ram and see how it stacks up.  Good winds and talk to you soon.




First Reflex Ride

I rode the 7.0 Reflex2 yesterday.  My sailing partner Gareth was on a 7.5 with a 120 Falcon and was going reasonably well.  I rigged the Reflex with slightly less downhaul than we used in the initial runs (I pulled it to a point where the specified outhaul settings seemed to work perfectly).  The wind was a bit light for a 7.0 but I clicked the rig onto my Falcon 104 with 37cm SL7 fin and set out.
What a sail!  The slight breeze had me planing right away and gusts were immediately converted into speed.
This is one of those bits of equipment that just feels right from the second you set off.  The feel is light and crisp and the sail does its work with no fuss or pulling allowing you to concentrate on other things like board trim and water state.  The rotation was flawless making gybing a pleasure and the few strong gusts were handled so easily I just kept wishing for more wind.  As soon as the wind picked up a tiny bit I passed Gareth on his 7.5 with absolute ease.
Over the last year I have become a huge sceptic when it comes to pure race sails and their relevance for the non-racer but this sail has made me a believer again.  FAST, EASY, LIGHT and FUN.  Severne continues to impress with inspired engineering, flawless build quality and beautiful products.      

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The New Reflexes Have Arrived!

Before I continue with the topic of boards I need to mention the arrival of these sails.  Our supplier received 2 Reflex 2's (a 7.0 and a 7.8).  There was a bit of wind so we decided to rig the 7.0 on its designated 430 Enigma mast. Andy (one of the power sailors) took the first spin and I have to say it looked fantastic on the water - fast, easy and so elegant.  He came out full of smiles but reported having difficulty with the rotation.  We jumped right on it and removed the spacers.  Anthony, our supplier, went out.  He also smoked and the rotation problem had disappeared with the removal of the spacers.
We have a lot more experimenting to do but in retrospect I think I put a little too much downhaul on the sail for its maiden voyage.  I really cranked it and I've been thinking that the sail has a whole mechanism to spill excess power.  Why would you rig it exactly the same as you would a sail with no such mechanism.
Anyway - exciting stuff and major respect for Severne.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Boards 1

These small bits of foam and carbon that give so much pleasure.  Our local supplier does Tabou and Fanatic so we are all pretty well up on these designs.

The Tabou Rocket has to be one of the finest freeride boards available today.  They are fast and controllable and I've watched them speeding away from me far too often.  For me they are too heavy and a little uninvolving to ride.  I prefer the equivalent Fanatic for its lightness and the involvement you get with the ride.  These things are important enough to me to forgo a bit of speed.  This is my view and as you can imagine is not widely shared.

The new Mantas are fantastic over chop at speed and the Manta freerides are even better over rough water.  What I like about Tabou is that they don't mess with things that work and changes are small, incremental and obviously well thought out.  Fanatic on the other hand is apt to change everything in a range at once.  The 2008 Falcons were great - early planing and fast while the 2009 models were all different.  2010 saw another complete re-engineering of the range.  I'm sure that you get breakthroughs with this approach and it provides excitement for us but I would be very wary of buying into a new range before I was sure that the shapes are going to work for me.  Peter Volwater is a very different type of sailor to me.  Having said this I am a Fanatic fan and Sebastian's designs usually work for me.  Fanatics are generally lighter than equivalent Tabous and plane earlier - both good things as far as I am concerned.  My views are not shared by all.  My sailing partner Gareth prefers heavier boards which he says are easier over chop and do not break as easily.

I helped with the testing of a new Fanatic deck last year and had to put a lot of nautical miles on a proto 112 Falcon (a tough job but someone had to do it)  Once I found the right fin for this board it proved to be awesome and I think that the 2011 range is even better.  There is something magical about the way the boards track and keep their trim when overpowered.  Incidentally the deck we were testing was phenomenal - light as a feather, solid as concrete.  I don't know if they incorporated the technology into the 2011 range but I doubt it as their board weights seem to have increased.  Not good.  Anyway Fanatic in my book is near the top at this point in time.

Other brands of interest for blasting are Thommen with their CrossX and Naish with their Grand Prix.  What I like about the Naish models is that they give us two rows of  footstrap positions.  Most other brands have only one row on their slalom boards.  This may be OK for the pros but when you are going way too quickly over rough water it is nice to be able to have your feet a little bit inboard.  You can then soften the board's attitude further with a fin like Deb's SL4 and the added comfort will add a whole lot more speed.  I would really appreciate it if other brands gave 2 rows of  screw holes on their slalom boards - even if only on their small sizes.

For proper board weights have a look at OPC's boards.  I have not ridden or even seen an OPC board in the flesh but they look good and their weights are something other manufacturers should be aiming at.  I would really  like to get my hands on a sample of these interesting boards.  Their range of models looks so right to me.

Last year I rode a Starboard iSonic 111 and it was as good as it looked - Fast and easy to gybe.  What a pleasure.  That model was from 2009 and I believe that the 2011 models are even better.  Like the Pryde race sails the iSonics are pure class.  I also rode a 112 JP Slalom.  Ben VD Steen left it behind after some racing here and one of our speed guys was trying it out.  Also a phenomenal board but very technical for me with the straps right on the rails.  Clearly a professional piece of equipment.  It ate through chop, and seemed to shrink in size as you got going.  I battled a bit with the gybing though.  This is a machine for really good sailors and pros.                    

Monday, January 10, 2011


Some comments regarding manufacturers in the industry.
Gaastra has lost Dan Kasseler and I'm not sure whether this is a good or bad thing.  Dan is a talented individual and knows how to make fast sails but my feeling is that his sails are not always the easiest to handle.  I had the first wide sleeve Naish Stealth.  A fast thing evidenced by Finian's world speed record at the time but a more unpleasant sail would be hard to imagine.  Rotation was almost impossible and a days sailing with it resulted in feeling like you had been thrashed with a very large, heavy stick.  Peter Munslinger is a good guy and I must say I have always been impressed by the Point 7 brand.  My only concern is that they have also been quite heavy and sometimes difficult to rotate.  I hope he doesn't bring these things with him to his new position.  So Gaastra has some question marks over it.  One Gaastra sail which is highly rated in these parts is the Cross (formerly the Remedy).  An awesome sail if used on the correct mast (ie not one from Gaastra ).  I suppose their 75% silver mast is OK but we use Fiberspar's Radius RDM for the ultimate Cross spine.  We hold 6m Remedies here when visitors are down to their 4.7 wave sails.  The new Savage looks interesting and our local supplier had one on the water a few days ago and spanked some full race sails.

North is to be commended on its Warp which despite the road paint colour looks the business.  If you watched the pro-tour video of the race where Cyrill destroyed the field using a smaller sail than everyone else you will agree that these sails work.  I admire Kai for continuously cutting weight (and recently, batten counts) of the Warp.  I have already expressed my feelings about sail weights for the other sails in their range but despite this I'm sure that all the sails work.  

What can one say about Pryde's new sails.  The slalom sail is elegant, light, fast and beautiful on the water and has the right number of battens and cams.  Robert Stroj is one of the masters - no doubt.

Ka sails continue to produce awesome stuff.  I own a Koncept 6.6 and it is one of the best sails I have ever ridden.  Their Koyote looks awesome as well.  I have never ridden one but am sure that it is probably on a par with any camless sail on the market.  Light too!

Severne is becoming a really impressive brand.  They pulled out all the stops with the new Reflex and I recon that the Reflex 2 is probably the state of the art in race sails right now.  As stated above they seem to get the need for light sails as well so hats off to them.  I rode a friend's NCX 7.0 the other day and smoked on my Falcon 104.  Very impressive.  I have my doubts about the large batten overhang above the boom however.  My concern is that it places more sail area above the boom at the expense of area below and this seems to result in a sail which is out of balance.  None of this seemed to make the sail any slower however.  The Severne Enigma masts have had some extensive testing by my collegues and they are by all accounts awesome.  Used with Severne, Pryde, Gaastra sails they absolutely rock.  Fantastic masts (a bit heavy for me but I could live with this for the performance)

Point 7 is a nice brand and I hope that the departure of Peter is not going to effect their future success.  I feel that the tie-up with Challenger Sails can work because of their flexibility and cleverness.  Whenever a good, passionate sailor is directly involved with a brand and its development of equipment good things result (Patrik Diethelm, Anders Bringdal, Robbie Naish to name a few) and Andrea Cucchi is just such a man.  I like the way they do their selling and like the sound (and specs) of their masts.  My only concern is the weight issue mentioned earlier and the rotation of the full on race model.  The testers had a 3 cam slalom model here this year and I was disappointed by the weight of the sail.  That black stuff is not as light as it looks.

Sailworks continues to make great products.  There is not much more to say than that.  Their Hucker would be great in our conditions and I would love to take some sizes for a blast over our lagoon.

Naish as mentioned before has really got the weight thing between its teeth.  Major respect!  In the slalom line the testers only had the Indie here so not really a full on slalom but very slick and light.  I think it gave a pretty good account of itself against the 3 cam sails in the test.  Our local supplier had a falling out with Naish some time ago so no Naish equipment is welcome here.  I still have some old Naish stuff but would never want to rock the boat so I don't even consider owning any new Naish equipment.  Pity.  I note from their site that there is no full slalom board and no Stealth for 2011.  I hope they have not moved out of this segment.  What will their racers (Sarah Herbert for example) use?

OK Guys - to bed but in the next post I will try to get something down about some of the pro's and who is going where.  I will also discuss boards

Some Concerns

In Langebaan we spend all of our sailing time blasting across water whose state varies from flat water slalom blasting on 7.8 race sails and slalom boards right up to wild water bump and jump hanging on to 4.8 m wave sails.
We therefor spend quite a lot of time discussing the perfect set up for the conditions we experience.  My current bug bear is the shortage of light, simple, fast easy to control slalom sails for real world sailors.  Full race sails can be heavy and very hard on one's body if sailed fully powered for long periods of time.  I don't have a problem with this and get that they need to win races and are not built for comfort.  I need something that is far easier to use even if it is not quite as good at accelerating away from a start or a gybe.  What I do not want is a heavy second tier sail with rod battens and "durable construction" like the Severne Overdrive.  I need high tech materials, tube battens and feather light weights.  The closest I can find to what would interest me is Naish's Grand Prix.  I haven't sailed the new Grand Prix but it looks and weighs the business.  I would not use it with the 75% mast since this sort of counters the extreme light weight.  I would probably ride it with a Fiberspar 7000 mast and Fiberspar boom.

The problem with our current designers is that they work to a push system where each year they give us a new sail range and hope that we will buy.  I don't think that we are able to specify what we actually need so the whole thing is a bit hit and miss.

Stephano Basso is working on the sort of sail I think the fast recreational guy may need with his brand Wingssails.  He feels as I do that 6 battens and 3 cams should be enough for a lightning fast slalom sail.  A good guy doing good work.

Amongst the mainstream brands North can be commended for reducing the number of battens in their Warp and cutting down on the weight.  I own a Ram 7.8 and love the sail but it is way too heavy.  Sailworks has quite light race sails and have kept the sleeve width down.  By all accounts these are fast, easy sails.  Bruce Peterson is no slouch on them

Gaastra seem intent on producing the heaviest sails on the planet.  Dan's designs are good of course but not easy to use if you weigh less than 100kg.  The second tier GTX Race is far too racy with it's wide sleeve and many battens.  I understand that they are no longer producing the technora version of the Vapor.  No good

I understand that cost has a bearing on the decision for or against high tech materials but if guys like Naish, Demon Sails in the UK and Sailworks can build light strong sails then everyone can.  Severne are starting to get the weight thing as can be seen in their S1 wave sail and the NCX Pro.  Maui Sails have the Ghost wave but even their technora race sails are too heavy.  Nice designs though.

My challenge to the sail designers therefor is to design a range of sails which are light, have no more than 7 battens and 3 cams, rotate easily and can be controlled even when totally overpowered.  Sleeve width can be slightly wide but narrower than the current wide sleeved race sails.  The sails should be able to be sailed on RDM masts for lighter guys and SDM for heavier or more serious racers (2 sets of cambers with each sail).  If you wanted to be fancy you could design a special super light mast range for the sails.  I would suggest that in the sizes 6.5m down that there should be camless versions.  We find here that we are faster on soft sails when conditions get wild.                  

Purpose of This Blog

The purpose of this blog is to discuss current developments in windsurfing and to share some of my concerns and opinions about products, manufacturers and people in our industry.  I am fortunate to live in a windy place with great water conditions for slalom and general blasting.  This combined with the fact that some of the manufacturers test equipment here and a prominent magazine runs many of its tests of new equipment means that we see much of the new equipment before it is released in the northern hemisphere.  We are a small community of avid windsurfers who are able to assess and compare a wide variety of equipment and speak to quite a few international heavy hitters within our sport.  I'm sure that I can pass along a few valid thoughts and opinions