Wednesday, December 28, 2011

New Equipment

I have been injured and so have been watching the windsurfing action from the beach for the last few weeks.  Not good.  Alberto Menegatti joined some of the racing guys the other day on the long runs we do when the south-westerly blows (we sail all the way out to the submarine bouy (4kms there and back) and this allows the fast guys to open the gap with the others.  Very interesting.  The new Gaastra Vapors really perform and we are seeing more and more of them on the water.  Alberto certainly had his fully lit.  These sails must be some of the coolest things on the water right now.

The new Gaastra Savages have also arrived and Anthony and Karel, (a visiting sailor from up north) were smoking on them a few days ago.  They had the 6.6m Savages on Manta 110l boards.  Very, very fast and very impressive.

Anyway I got back on the water yesterday and was offered a ride on the new Falcon 99l by Johnny, a local who  does some testing for Fanatic.  He had a Deboichet SL4 34cm under it and I clipped my 6.6m Ka Koncept on top.  The 99l is one impressive machine.  It has a freeride type of comfort and eats through the chop but just keeps accelerating with no apparent upper limit.   You decide when you want to slow down.  Gybes are easy provided you enter at speed but this board is only about speed so leisurely sailors need not apply.  Despite this massive performance potential the board is really easy to sail.  The straps are easy to get into and out of and the low deck seems to steady everything over the bumps.  The deck profile gives good support and confidence when standing on the leeward rail in the gybe.  Some slalom boards give you the feeling that your foot could slip if you place it too close to the leeward edge but not this one.  All of these things give the impression that massive attention has been given to every aspect of the design.  Well done guys.  A classy piece of equipment.

I must give a mention to the Deboichet SL4 as well.  Under the 99l Falcon the fin is rock solid, fast and so good over the chop.  If you are in the market for a 62cm wide slalom board, you should have the Falcon on your short list and consider an SL4 if one is available.  A really good combination.

Speaking of fins, I noticed Craig from Fanatic using Sonntag fins.  I have been watching Sonntag for some time and based on the comments on the Internet and performance stats on the speed sites they have to be one of the best slalom fins available right now.  If you live in a country with a strong currency, have deepish pockets and are looking for a special fin you may want to give the new Ifju Reaction some consideration.  Peter Ifju is one of the great innovators in windsurfing and combines an awesome understanding of the physics involved with true passion for the sport.  Only good can come from this and his new fins are sure to be pure class. 

The wind looks set to blow again today so we are going to have to punish our bodies yet again.  Once more to the beach...

Talk to you soon                         

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

7.8m Slalom Sailing

Hi all
On Sunday we had great winds here and the water was reasonably flat.  I sailed my 7.8m Ram the whole afternoon but guys were on sails right down to 4.7m.  This session worked me hard and reminded me of a problem faced by many who buy and use pure slalom sails.  These high tech sails are the fastest things on the water for getting through a slalom race.  If you want to win at the highest levels you have to use them.  They are however, highly technical and are quite difficult to sail for most windsurfers.  You need the skill and strength to keep the board on the water at the high speeds the sails are designed for.  If you are not able to do this then a camless design is going to be so much better for you.  

The 7.5m to 7.8m slalom sail is a particularly problematic size for many windsurfers who perceive it as a light wind sail.  The problem is that this size is not a light wind sail at all and it only comes into its own when fully powered up.  Only when you are fully maxed out do all the engineering aspects of the sail come into play and enable you to access the performance the sail was designed for.  So often I see guys wobbling about in light winds on their 7.8m slalom sails getting worked over by the weight, the cams which do not always rotate and the sleeve which fills with 100l of water when they fall in and have to water start.  I rode Andre's 7.8m Reflex2 the other day in overpowered conditions and there too realized what a great design this sail is when fully lit. This high energy sailing really works you however and the pure fun factor is not really there.  Also, when the wind drops, all the weight and technology seem to punish you and sadly many windsurfers never get out of the punishment zone with these machines.  The message then is, if you can handle the power and want the ultimate then by all means buy a good slalom 7.8m sail, haul it down and sail it in strong winds.  If you are like most of us, buy a good camless design (NCX 7.5 or Savage 7.8) and go faster and easier than you would be able to manage on the slalom equivalent.  I'm firmly in the camless camp now and will not be replacing my Ram with another cammed sail.

On Sunday I noticed Andy smoking all comers on his 110l Manta with a 2 year old Vandal camless sail (6.5m).  The design of this sail is one which has always appealed to me.  It is simple (no cutouts, no big batten above the boom etc) and is light, easy to rig and easy to sail.  It is also blisteringly fast on a fast board with a proper fin.  An ideal setup for most of us who want to go fast and have fun.

Talk to you soon                      

Some Addenda to Previous Posts

Hi All
Anthony has suggested that I mention the make and model of formula board which Gareth and I used in the JP Super Light/Formula comparison mentioned in the post below.  I had planned to do this but at the time of writing could not remember the board's name so I omitted it.  Anyway Gareth's formula board is a Bic Techno Formula 170l.  His fin is a Select unit originally 70cm but cut down in length very slightly.  This is therefor not a first tier formula racer but is a solid all round performer and a worthy control against which to assess any board designed for light wind sailing.

Andy has responded to my comments about the 3S LTD.  He points out that he did not win any of the races.  My point is that he gave a good account of himself against some of the fastest guys on the water on a board that is designed for fun, comfort and versatility.  Unbelievable.  I am waiting to see how he performs when he has tuned the thing for speed!  He also mentions that he didn't plane out of every gybe.  Just getting round in those conditions requires something special and to plane out of some of them at speed is an achievement.  Once again major respect to Tabou for this awesome product.