Wednesday, August 31, 2011

PWA Slalom Costa Brava 2011 -- Winnersfinal 8

This is a vid of Alberto smoking everyone in lighter winds.  His home sailing is done on a lake so he knows how to manage shifty winds.  I think his Z Fins are also particularly good for low down power and lift.  

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

NCX 7.0, Rocket 115, V-Grip Boom

On the day in question, the tide was running in the same direction as the wind so we needed power.  The kit I had up was slightly too small for the wind in these conditions so Andre kindly lent me the above combination.  I have always felt that a freeride 115 litre board is a bit irrelevant for me because if you need the extra flotation of 115 litres the wind will be light.  In light winds the water state is quite flat.  In such conditions I always use a slalom board.  Despite this I'm always up for something different so I re-rigged the 7.0 (way more downhaul and a bit of outhaul) and took the stuff onto the water. 
I have to say the performance of the board is excellent.  I could not get off the line as fast as the Mantas but once up to speed the board hauls ass – it just keeps on going faster.  The chop is not an issue and the gybes are easy and fast.  This is a great board for the heavy guy who wants to sail overpowered.  This particular board is the 2011, light blue model that slots between the heavy blue one and the light limited edition.  I found the board a little heavy and sticky to get going but once planning, a really fast ride.  Most impressive.  Andre had a 38cm Select SRX Freeslam under the board.  This is a great fin but not quite up to the job in the current on that day.  I would have preferred a slalom fin (an old Superfast 39cm maybe, or the new 39cm S11)

The boom performed fantastically.  I could feel no difference in the stiffness to a full carbon boom and the V profile is easy to live with - a great product at a really good price.  Compare its price to the carbon equivalent.

The NCX 7.0 once again impressed me.  If you have been reading this blog you will know that I’m not a great fan of the huge batten overhang above the boom.  That said, the shape of the sail does not seem to harm its performance in any way.  This sail smokes!  It has quite a full profile so I find that you need to downhaul it fully to get the control you want in overpowered conditions and a bit of outhaul also seems to help the stability.       
Riding this sail has got me wondering if I really need cams any more.  I don’t race so I don’t need equipment which can handle vastly overpowered conditions.   The benefits of light weight, easy gybes, easy rigging, fun and a surprising ease to get planing makes me think that camless could be the way to go for me.  With a good, easy planing slalom board I recon I can get up and planing faster with this sail than I could with a 7.0m, fully cammed slalom sail.  I know the camless sail would start coming second at the wind limit for a 7.0 but when it gets that strong I am on a 6.0 soft sail/bump'n jump board anyway.  Food for thought.
As mentioned in the previous post, when I finished sailing, I checked the batten tensions on the NCX and they were all over the place with wrinkles in most of the panels.  The next post (after a video of Alberto kicking ass) will have something about batten tuning.

Cheers - talk to you soon

Winter Almost Over

Hi Guys
Winter is on its way out and another sailing season draws near.  We seem to have had fewer strong north westerlies this year so the locals are all quite unfit.  We did get some south easterlies however and I got the chance to ride Andre's Severne NCX 7.0 with his Rocket 115 and new V-Grip boom so I will report back on the experience and on the performance of each of these things.

Some industry news first.  The 2012 Gaastra sails look really cool.  They have done away with the boring, sludgy colours of the past and brightened everything up.  The new Phantom looks 100% right for a top flight slalom sail - narrower luff sleeve, 3 cambers and nice simple plan form.  A huge improvement on the GTX Race.  Of course we will need to get one on the water to see if the performance matches the looks but I am convinced that this is going to be something special.  The Savage has been re-designed.  I'm not sure why because the 2011 model is a great sail but the new one looks spectacular.  I've never really rated the Matrix before.  We have found that the Remedy/Cross seems to beat it at everything but I have a good feeling about the 2012 Matrix.  It too has had an overhaul and now looks quite special (great colours).
All in all a really promising start to the new season for Gaastra.  Well done guys and we really look forward to getting some of these machines onto the water.

Tabou have added quite a few new sizes of Manta to their line up.  The aim is to do what JP does and offer a tailored quiver of 3 boards to the racer depending on his or her weight.  Nice

Bjorn Dunkerbeck won the PWA slalom racing and this is a real testament to the guy's skill and ability.  At 41+ years of age you shouldn't be the champion of anything (possible exception - darts).  It is also a testament to the new Reflexes.  These sails had a lot to do with Bjorn winning across the variety of wind and water conditions of the tour.  The young guys to watch on the slalom tour are Pierre Mortefon, Ben vd Steen, Benoit and Alberto (in lighter winds where he smokes everyone).

OK that's all for now.  I'll talk about Andre's stuff next time and the do a piece on batten tuning (Andre had a mish mash of tensions on his battens which killed the performance a bit)