Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Feedback on Fins

We had good conditions yesterday so I was able to ride 3 of Pit's fins in different conditions as the wind increased.  The Lightning fins are carbon over foam designs, beautifully made and feather light.  They are made in the States by a company called Recreational Composites.  If you go to their site you will note that their prices are extremely competitive (you get a lot of fin for your money).
I started with the Lightning Square Tip 43.5cm.  This is an unusual shape in this day and age.  It looks like a miniature formula fin.  I put it into my Falcon 104 and took it out with the 7.8 Ram in light wind.  It got going immediately flying the board quickly and easily over the water.  Very impressive given the low wind strength.  Gybes required a bit more commitment as the fin seems to create a strong directional momentum.  Easy to adjust to however.  Speed was good on all points of sail.

The wind increased and Andy came out with his Manta 110/Reflex2 7.8.  We have Christian, a visiting German speed sailor with us and he joined us on a JP Slalom 112/Pryde Race 7.8.  The tide was opposite to the wind giving us some added power so I decided to switch to the Lightning Eliptical 40cm slalom fin.  This is a very delicate, narrow fin specified for use with sails up to 6.5m. I thought I would get away with the bigger sail because of the favorable tide and I must say the fin did really well.  I was able to keep comfortably ahead of the big guys and made the upwind bouy without too much trouble.  This fin really hauls going off the wind - great control (fine rounded tip) and a lot of fun.

Would I buy a Lightning fin in place of a Select S11?  Probably not.  The Select model is such a workmanlike piece of equipment.  It does everything you ask it to with no fuss or drama.
Would I recommend a Lightning fin to someone looking for a classy and effective piece of equipment? Absolutely.
Would I like to own one or two Lightnings alongside my Selects? You bet!

After an excellent session on the 7.8 the wind picked up and I changed down to my Koncept 6.6.  I kept the 104 Falcon and screwed in Pit's Deboichet SL4 38cm.  Andy kept going with the Reflex2 and started blowing everything else off the water as usual.  Awesome sail, scary sailor.

The Deb SL4 is a really good piece of equipment.  It lifts the board over chop so effectively that you get the impression of having suspension under the board.  This imparts confidence and enables you to concentrate on picking your line, maintaining trim, staying sheeted in etc where on a lesser fin all your energy is used trying to survive.  A very very impressive foil.  The SL4 is definitely something I would buy - possibly a 32cm or 34cm for my small slalom board for rough water.

So an interesting day's sailing.  What I learn over and over again is the importance of a good fin properly matched to the rest of the equipment being sailed.  The right fin has the power to completely change the performance of board, sail and sailor.  Something to bear in mind considering the cost of a fin compared to the cost of the other pieces.  


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Industry Stuff

I've been looking at some of the new boards and I must say there is a lot of nice slalom stuff around.
RRD has always been a top windsurfing brand and the new Xfire range looks very impressive.  F2 has some tasty stuff as well.  Their Silver Arrow slalom boards are really light and by all accounts really fast.  I always take notice when the designer of a piece of windsurfing equipment is himself a top sailor (Dave Ezzy, Patrik Diethelm, Bruce Peterson, Ben Severne, Andrea Cucchi, Josh Angulo Anders Brigdal etc) and I think Dan Aeberli has produced something special for us with the Silver Arrows.  I like the fact that they also have a range of Silver Arrow sails which I think are being done in collaboration with Sailloft Hamburg.  A nice concept but I would have made the sails a bit racier (3 cams, extra light construction, blistering speed)

Speaking of Josh Angulo, I see that his 2011 slalom board is back to a conventional shape.  What happened to the extended nose and reduced tail area which in 2009 and 2010 were claimed to be such an important breakthrough?  I understand that those 2009 and 2010 boards actually worked pretty well too so who knows.

Watching both Patrik Diethelm and Karin Jaggi in the racing last year, I have no doubt that the new Patrik boards are also something special.  Patrik is exactly the kind of person we need to be designing boards - a top rider who is technically excellent and totally obsessed with windsurfing (slightly insane some would say).  The right man!

Quite a few interesting moves have taken place amongst the top slalom racers.  Benoit and Sylvain Moussilmani have moved to Tabou and, as one of the readers commented, can a move to Gaastra for these two guys be far off?  This in turn makes one wonder if Simmer is backing out of slalom racing.  If Benoit and Sylvain leave Simmer then only Kurosh remains as a top racer for them.  If you look at Simmer's list of riders Kurosh is not there (?).  I also note that Simmer's 2011 race sail has still not been unveiled even though they promised it for 01/01/2011. If they pull out I will definitely miss the sight of those green sails giving the main brands a good go in the PWA videos.
Peter Bijl has left Fanatic, joined JP/Neil Pryde and will be racing again this year - good news.  He also joins Antoin and Micah in the development of the new JP slalom boards.  Other moves are Jesper Vesterstrom to North and Sean O'Brien to Starboard - two potent guys so good news for those two brands.  

I still have no idea what sails Finian is going to be using this year.  The RRD Xfire promo video shows him riding the boards using Pryde sails so maybe he is returning to Pryde.  There is nothing on the Pryde site to suggest that he will join them though.

On the local front we have had some excellent winds recently and have sailed ourselves to exhaustion.  We had the downwind dash last week and Bernd Flessner won followed by Alberto Menegatti.  Two awesome sailors.  I took completely the wrong equipment and was totally out of control for the entire race.  A nightmare!

Pit is leaving for a week to do some sightseeing with his family so I will run some of his fins while he is away.  He has Deboichet and Lightning fins so it will be interesting to run these back to back with my Select models.  I'll report back if we get suitable winds for the fin sizes he has.


Thursday, February 10, 2011


We have had perfect winds over the last few days - moderate to begin with becoming stronger as the day goes on.  

Anthony lent me a Gaastra Savage 6.7 to try and I used it with my Falcon 104/SL7-37.  He had the sail rigged on a Fiberspar 7000 mast and carbon boom.  The sail is quite heavy to lift and feels very solid on the beach.  Once I got it onto the water everything lightened up and it proved to be an awesome piece of kit.  It is one of those sails that fades into the background and takes care of business allowing you to concentrate on other stuff.  I was able to go fast on all points of sail and found it to be really light in the gybes.  Dan really nailed the swing weight on this one.  I will try sometime to ride this sail and the Severne NCX 7.0 back to back.  They are both great sails but very different.  My impression is that the Savage is going to be slightly easier in overpowered conditions.  Do you really need a race sail when you can have weapons like these that are so fast and so much fun?

The wind picked up and and I took an NCX 6.0 out.  This was rigged on the specified Redline 430 mast with a carbon HPL boom.  My board was a Falcon 89/SL7-33.  The NCX is really fast as I observed at its last outing with Anthony.  It is really difficult to find any fault with such a well engineered product.  I sailed it well into overpowered territory and it behaved impeccably.  Fast, light and cool in red and white.  I would like to try this sail on a Redline RDM mast.  I must say that this is not recommended by Severne but you never know - we could just discover something special.

Pit is here from Switzerland and has brought his 2010 Starboard 111 (light construction) with a set of excellent Kovalski footstraps (red ones - very cool)
I took this board for a spin with Pit's Vapor 6.7 and Deboichet SL2 42.  What a dynamite combination.  The board is quite slim and is just so controllable at speed over rough water.  The gybes are phenomenal - you seem to float all the way around and out the other side on the plane.  Witchcraft has been employed in the design!
Pit's Vapor on the Gaastra gold mast was too hard and unforgiving for me but for an aggressive, heavy sailor like Pit it puts rocket power onto the board.  Very impressive.

The free styler - Steven van Broeckhoven is here impressing all with his skill.  We see some pretty hot sailors here from all over the globe but this guy is something else.  I watched him do about 4 moves in a row and couldn't understand what I was seeing.  The sail is into the wind, spun round three times he does a loop off flat water and sails off with feet pointing the wrong way and then straight into a whole other series of inexplicable moves.  How anyone can keep all that information in his head is beyond me.  I'm just happy to nail a good gybe!    

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Before I discuss booms just a quick note about our recent sailing.  Tuesday gave us the best conditions we've had so far this year.  I was fully powered on a 6.0 Remedy/80l Freeride board with 27cm slalom fin.  The wind and tide were in the same direction so the shape of the chop was forgiving and high speeds were the order of the day.  My fin was a bit small causing a big loss of speed when pinching upwind.  You then shoot off downwind but inevitably have to get upwind again to make it back to the start point.
I am a firm believer that you cannot be fast unless you are comfortable but don't get too comfortable.  A small fin can give great comfort at speed but may not actually be that fast.  Harry, one of the power sailors, was able to pass me quite easily on his Rocket with bigger fin and sail.
Anthony, our supplier went out as I came in.  He was on a Rocket 95/31SL7/6.0NCX and smoked.  Anyone looking for a high wind freeride setup that really cooks must have this combo on their short list.  We have found the NCX's to be more powerful than our Gaastra Cross sails of the same size.  If you are a bigger sailor or just looking for a sail to plane in lighter winds give the NCX a go.  Severne's Mojo must be a real powerhouse.

The booms supplied here are from Fiberspar and Aeron.  Two good brands.  I prefer the Fiberspar carbon booms for their lighter weight but the top Aerons look bomb proof.  Their new aluminium V Grip boom has to be one of the great breakthroughs in recent times.  This thing is as stiff as a carbon boom at one third of the price.  Bargain!  The guys who have bought these booms are all happy so far and the only negative thing I've heard is that the shape of the grip takes some getting used to.  This was only from one of the guys however and he has since told me that after a few sessions he is now fully at ease with the shape.

If you are fanatical about wringing every knot of speed from your equipment or getting that extra few degrees upwind/downwind you should have a look at replacing the head on your carbon boom with a strap-on boom head from Streamlined.  A nice product which I am told can really make a difference.    

Another development you may not have seen is the new Contact Boom from Tecno Limits.  I have not seen one in the flesh so cannot comment but it looks interesting.