Wednesday, September 28, 2011

More on Sail Materials.

I have recently learned a bit about why some of the big sail producers stick to using monofilm in their sails in preference to the high tech scrims.  They state that a sail panel which contains a weave will stretch faster than a simple monofilm panel, giving the sail a wooly feel.  This is because the thin film which sandwiches the weave is the thing that stretches and it does this before the weave has a chance to impart stability.  This is interesting to me I must say and we need to listen to guys who work with the technology and these materials all the time.  As I've said before, some of my best sailing has been with sails from North and Gaastra and maybe this quality of ride comes from the very thing I always complain about - the dreaded monofilm.

I take this viewpoint on board and I really hope to have a chance to compare a scrim sail with an equivalent monofilm sail to assess the difference for myself.  If I get such a chance I will report back to you guys with my impressions.  My feeling is that you should be able to maximize the stability of a laminate by orienting the weave appropriately.  If the weave is 90degrees to the forces on the panel then it should hold.  I suppose the way the strands are bonded to each other also plays a role.  Some of the sailmakers I really admire (Severne, Naish, Sailworks and Ezzy) all use scrims in their sails and these makers all produce lighter sails than the likes of Gaastra, North and Hot Sails Maui.  These light sails seem to perform well.  We obviously have two schools of thought and I will not take sides until I have a chance to sail two examples back to back.  I have to admit that the two rides I had on the 2011 Gaastra Savage 6.7m were pretty impressive and Peter's new Savage looks even better.
This matter will remain unresolved for me for now.  Watch this space  

Monday, September 26, 2011

2012 Race Sails from Gaastra and Severne

This is the 2012 Reflex111.  A few differences over the current model, most noticeably the positioning of the batten tensioners.  You can now draw a straight line right through the tensioners from top to bottom.  This makes more sense to me.  This line is also closer to the edge of the sail as it moves down towards the boom.  Awesome looking sail!
The new Vapor is one pretty sail and its performance is going to be something special.  Ross Williams has just won the WaterZ 2011 Downwind Race in Denmark on it, blitzing 300 other windsurfers including some of the top guys.  I only see one zip on the sail but I suppose you can get to the other cambers via the boom cutout or the bottom of the mast tube (?) Slightly worrying    

Some 2012 Kit

Here are two of the hot camless sails on the market for 2012.  The Gaastra Savage looks awesome and has had some nice improvements over last year.  8 battens in the larger sizes have been replaced with 7.  Well done Gaastra.  The NCX Pro from Severne is also pretty cool.  Note the high modulus, high tech scrims employed.  Feather light turbo performance.  Tasty!    

This is a preview of the 2012 Falcons.   A good size spread and nice looking machines.  If Peter Volwater's performance over the last World Cup is anything to go by, these things are going to smoke!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Rockets, Fins and NCX 7.0

Grant, one of the local sailors lent me his Rocket 105 a few days ago.  It is the blue and white model, between the blue and limited editions so is quite heavy for me but once up to speed it hauls.  The chop is simply not a problem and the standard fin is good over unsettled water.  This must be one of the best fast freeride boards of all time - fast and easy to control and nice to gybe.  For more speed and a bit more directional stability, a  Select S11, 35cm would cook on this board.  I note that the 2012 Rocket 105 is slightly wider than the current model.  Awesome!

Yesterday I rode Andre's 7.0m NCX and was impressed all over again.  I rode with two of the power sailors both on full slalom kit (7.8+7.6 m sails).  I was a bit under powered and found myself being pushed downwind and down current.  This always ends in having to battle upwind which slows you down so I was not able to keep up but had a great sail nevertheless.  I clipped the NCX onto Andre's Rocket 115 and had a few blasts.  Andre has bought an S11 for the beast and the combination hauls.  I could hang with the big guys for much of the way but lost out in transitions.  The freeride stuff battles to get you into a commanding upwind position after the gybe especially when you are fighting the current.  The slalom equipment with big race sails and fins has no such problem.  All in all an interesting day.  The camless sail was outpaced going upwind and downwind but conditions were marginal for a 7.0 so, with this in mind, it equipped itself well.

The new Select fins seem to have pushed quite a few of the guys into a different league as far as straight line speed goes.  The fins can be sailed in larger sizes than the old SL7's and do not punish you at all.  This allows you to concentrate on other things like the water state and tactics.  Much faster!
Talk to you soon.  (stay sheeted in)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Comfort and Balance are Essential for Speed


This is a series of shots of Andy and me sailing from the far side of our normal run  into shore to gybe.  We both have slalom boards and similar sized sails (Vapor 7.6 and Ram7.8).  You will note that I pull ahead over the course of the run.  The reason for this is the fact that I am comfortable with my equipment.  Andy, usually much faster than me, is not comfortable.  His fin is too powerful causing him to stand on the board which throws his balance out slowing him down.  If you compare the two boards on the water you will note that his Manta tilts to leeward (fin too hard) while my board is completely level allowing me to hang out with the lightest pressure on the board.

Andy has sorted his fins out since these photos were taken.  He also acquired a Reflex2, 7.8m and is now extremely hard to keep up with.  As the wind picks up he simply goes faster and has become a master of balance.  Bad news for the rest of us.

Hopefully this illustrates the need to balance your sail/board/fin combination and to set your sail properly.  COMFORT = SPEED.   
Talk to you soon

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Sail Construction/Weight

Those of you who read this blog will know that I am preoccupied with light sailing equipment and this post deals with some sail related weight issues.  The common sail material used in our industry has always been mono film.  This material is cheap, effective, easy to cut and fairly resistant to UV and wear and tear.  It is not light however and if you need the material to be stronger you simply increase the thickness of the film, adding to the weight of the sail.  Brands like Gaastra and North use this approach and I have a huge problem with them because of it.  I like their designs (some of my best sailing has been done on their sails) but not their materials.  Their products are simply too heavy.

One of the ways to reduce weight is to use laminates which sandwich a high tech fibre mesh between two thin films.  Modern aramids such as Technora, Twaron and Kevlar provide massive strength from minute weights of material.  Materials such as Dyneema and PBO (a liquid crystal polymer with even better stability and strength than the aramids) are also used in sailmaking.  Severne for instance, uses quite thick material on the hard wearing bottom part of the sail, Dyneema and Kevlar laminates in the mid section and pre-preg Technora film above the boom.  This makes the whole sail much lighter than a mono film equivalent and improves the swing weight in gybes and other transitions (as you can imagine with virtually no weight above the boom).  To give a comparison, the Gaastra Savage 6.7m weighs 5.1 Kg.  Severne's NCX pro 7.0m weighs 4.2Kg - almost 1kg lighter!  In addition to being lighter and stronger, what these scrim materials also allow you to do is to engineer some stretch into the weave.  Severne have done this with the NCX pro which can stretch at the limits of its wind range, allowing the sailor to maintain control and keep the board on the water - very cleaver!  Have a look at Naish's site and compare their sail weights with Gaastra and North.  Naish sails are substantially lighter.  If Naish and Severne can produce superior products with laminates, then other lofts can do it too.  

I am really excited by the new Gaastra sail shapes but I would implore them to go a step further and use some cool laminates to make a limited run of super light versions of their top performance sails.  I would then ask them to take a further step and  borrow the mast specs from Point 7, produce a bunch of these masts and launch them together with the light version sails.  Send Arnon, Ross and Alberto to a speed strip and log some impressive speeds to demonstrate capability and we'd  have some seriously exciting stuff on the market.  No harm in dreaming.

The performance and feel of a light sail can also be enhanced with carbon tube battens (instead of heavy GF ones) of course.  If your kit is light, easy, balanced and comfortable you are going to be faster and happier with your sailing sessions.  A light sail with low swing weight is one of the elements to achieve this condition.   I will expand on the theme of comfort and balance in the next post.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Some Random Musings

"I am playing windsurfing every day,slalom,RSX,formura etc..And i am teacin windsurfing shop of tears. i love windsurfing very much,and iwant to enjoy play windsurfing of every people."

The above text comes from the sailor profile page of Japanese racer, Fujiko Onishi.  The words don't mean much as they stand but they are quite cute and we can all understand the sentiment and enthusiasm behind them.  Look her up on  I can't place the Gaastra sail she is riding in her action shots.  Sara-Quita (behind her) is riding a recognizable Vapor but what is Fujiko's sail with that chevron at the top and red flashing on the foot? It looks like a Gaastra (I'm sure I see a Gaastra logo) but I suppose it could be a Gun sail- ??  

Chris Pressler took part in the Red Bull Prince of the Island race in Turkey and used his NCX Pro 8.0m with his iSonic 107 ( a perfect combination for light, early planing, high speed fun).  He came third, ahead of scores of guys with full race sails.  He recons he was smoking guys with 9.5m race sails.  He also comments on the fun he had and the ease of tacking and gybing with a camless sail.  This sort of result strengthens my belief that camless could be a really good option for many of us.  I just want light/fast/fun/easy and sails like the Severne NCX and Gaastra's Savage provide all of these things.

On the subject of the new Gaastra Savage, I note that they have limited the number of battens on the 2012 model to 7, regardless of size.  (The 2011 range increases the battens to 8 on all sizes above 7.2m).  Well done Peter Munzlinger!  You don't need more than 7 battens on a soft sail.  An 8 batten configuration just hardens everything up and detracts from the fun.  Leave 8 battens to the race guys.

I had a good sail today on my old BIC KP Replica Formula board with an equally old Nitro4, 9.8m.  An awesome combination which smoked over the flat water.

Talk to you soon                

Friday, September 2, 2011

Some Gybing Points

PWA Alacati Peter Volwater report

Here is a shot of Peter in mid gybe in a blisteringly fast heat in Alacati.  Note how he has stepped right forward to keep the board flat and under control and is now ready to flip the sail.  He has released his old back hand, is looking forward out of the gybe and his old front hand is right up against the mast preparing for the flip.  His knees are bent and bum down giving him stability and allowing him to maintain pressure on the inside rail with his heels to keep turning.
Micah on the extreme right and Antoine on the left are both flaring their sails and have stepped to keep control.  As you would expect, Peter smoked everyone in this heat.  Just look at the three sailors in the frame and identify the winner!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Batten Tuning and Mantas

Hi Guys
Here is the batten tuning piece I've been promising.

Batten tuning is, as we all know, an important aspect of getting one’s equipment dialled.  Here are some tips for tuning your battens.  This applies to slalom/freerace/ freeride sails.  I can’t comment on the wave and freestyle kit which may have different requirements.     

The NCX is a 7 batten sail so I will talk to this configuration.  Your first task is to tighten all the battens until any and all wrinkles in the panels are eliminated.  You could go on and sail now and the sail will perform quite well if you have downhauled and outhauled correctly.  

To refine the setup, put some more tension on the bottom 2 battens (call these numbers 1 and 2).  This will give more stability, better top speed and better power.  Once again you could go out having done all of the above and have good performance but here comes some secret knowledge.  

Move up to batten 4 and apply extra tension.  Now move up to batten 6 and release a bit of tension until one small wrinkle appears in the panel.  You are now ready to get really serious on the water. 

When adding extra tension to a batten, ensure that it does not develop an S bend.  This is a sign that you have over-tensioned and you need to back off a bit on the key until it straightens out.

I have been given a sneak pre-view of the 2012 Mantas and they look awesome.  Very sleek and black and they really look the part.  I hope that most of the black colouring comes from carbon however, and not from black paint.  That would be really disappointing.  My big problem with current Tabou boards is that they are all too heavy (I include the team and limited edition models in this) so I am really interested to see the new ones in the flesh.  If they feel and go as well as they look, then they are going to be something special.  I have not had permission to show you the pictures so you will need to wait for them to appear on the Internet.

Cheers for now and good sailing