Monday, December 31, 2012

Nice Gybing Video

Hi All

Just a quick post this one - between the sailing, drinking and eating.  I saw a really nice gybing instructional video a while ago.  It is on YouTube but just google - carve gybe tuition with neilson.  This will take you to the YouTube site.  The video is simple, easy to understand and each stage of the gybe is nicely presented.  Good stuff

Talk to you soon  

Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Re-look at the Ultimate Quiver and Some PWA Gossip

Andy sent me an e-mail with his thoughts on the ultimate windsurfing quiver.  I include the message here:

Hi Phil

Current ULTIMATE quiver that I have been giving some thought to:

Formula Fin
Overdrive 9.5 or Phantom 9.2
Manta 85/135
53&49 S11
Overdrive 8.6 or Phantom 8.5
Manta 71/116
39,41&43 S10/11/12/Vmax?
Overdrive 7.8 or Phantom 7.8
& Savage 6.6 or 7.2
3S 66/116 or Rocket 66/115
36,38 SRX/ 37,39 S12 or combo
Cross 6.4 & 5.6
3S 61/96
30,32 SRX, 33S12 or Edge 31&33
Cross 5.6 & 4.8  

I would still like my 5.2 cross in there somehow, but struggle to justify it, even in the ultimate quiver.

A challenge would be getting enough "Special Sticks" for the Cross sails.

Since it is the ultimate quiver I would want lovely carbon booms, extensions and bases[Chinook springs to mind] also.

One Can dream

This is an interesting quiver.  If you wanted to restrict yourself to 3 boards I think Manta 85 and 71 with a 3S 96 would go a long way to covering all your needs.  The "special sticks" he refers to are the masts we have discovered which work so well with the Cross sails.

A quick bit of PWA gossip before I sign off.  I heard that Alberto Menegatti is leaving Gaastra for Point 7.  I have seen no confirmation of this anywhere on the Internet so please don't quote me but let's see if my intelligence sources are any good.

Talk to you soon  

Friday, December 28, 2012

2013 Mantas and Some Thoughts on the 2013 Overdrives


The 2013 Manta line is on Tabou’s site and I believe that this is probably the best range of racing boards available today for the advanced windsurfer interested in general blasting or winning at local races.  The shapes are so accessible and easy to sail for the proficient windsurfer.  Whether they are good enough for the very best pro sailors, I’m not sure.   We will see when the PWA circuit resumes in 2013.   I think that Starboard and RRD are two really difficult acts to beat where top slalom racing is concerned and Fanatic is always capable (on a good day) of producing something special.

One slight concern that I have regarding the 2013 Mantas lies with the 71/116l board.  Early this year (2012), the Tabou team were testing boards here and one of the boards was the 71/113 Manta which several of us rode and which I reviewed on this blog.  Hennie, one of our top racers purchased this board and has been devastating at races.  This is the board that local sailors have fallen in love with and is the one slalom machine on everyone’s list.  What I notice now however, is that the volume on the specs sheet for this board is shown as 116l on the 2013 site.  The team inform us (in the description) that changes have been made to make it racier.  This worries me.  Is the new volume simply the result of measuring the volume accurately or is the final board a different design from the one we tested?  Was the board I tested merely a proto which has not made the final cut?  If the board is a new design, will we be as impressed by it as we were with Hennie’s  113? - big questions creating a lot of uncertainty here.  Tabou – please send a new 71/116 Manta for testing!

Looking at the entire Manta range you could quite easily buy the new 85/135 as your light wind board.  Andy rode the 2012 85 the other day with his 7.5 Overdrive and absolutely smoked.  He was getting speeds which were simply unheard of for big boards a few years ago.  If the new 85 is an improvement on this 2012 model then I want one.  End of story.  If the new 71/116 is the same, as good or better than the one we tested,  then this is virtually a compulsory purchase.  I no longer believe in small slalom boards for myself but if you are set on slalom boards throughout your range then the 59/88 is the board that interests me.   What I like about this machine apart from the narrow width, is that they have increased its length.  Small boards stall so easily in the gybe through bad chop if they are too short.  The extra length of this model is bound to make difficult gybes a breeze – Nice!

The 2012 Severne Overdrive 7.5 has been causing a stir here with Andy smoking all comers on the water.  My concern regarding the 2013 models is that they have wider sleeves than the 2012 models.  Also, the 7.5m has become a 7.8m.  Take it from me the 7.5m had more than enough grunt.  I hope that Severne is not making this sail too racy and difficult to sail.  I do notice however that the alternative masts specified for the new Overdrives are RDM masts.  Interesting and this would undoubtedly soften the sails for smaller guys.  I am unsure about how the camber inducers are going to work on the narrower mast if you were to go the RDM route but knowing Severne they will have an elegant solution.    

That’s all for now.  I’ve had a chance to examine more carefully the new Select fin range and I have issues.  I will discuss these in the next post.     

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Gaastra Phantom and Severne Overdrive

Hi All

Happy holidays and congratulations for dodging the end of the world on December 21.  We live to sail some more.  Awesome!

We have had some fantastic sailing over the past few weeks and some equipment models are making their mark.  Karel, an extremely fast visiting sailor has bought a 2013 Phantom 7.8m and Andy has purchased a 2012 Overdrive 7.5m.  Both of these sails are phenomenal.  Fast and easy.  I almost keep up across the wind on my Savage 7.8 but through the lulls, upwind and downwind these sails are easily faster.  No question.  Andy is now as fast on big stuff as he is on the smaller kit.  The Overdrive is a mighty sail - huge low end grunt and seemingly limitless top speed.  I have not ridden either of these sails yet despite both guys kindly offering them to me to test (I was too busy having fun on my stuff and exhausted myself).  I trust both of the guys however and have no hesitation in recommending either sail to anyone who wants to go really fast on this size of sail.  Both guys are really impressed with their sails and both are smoking on the water.  Ample reasons for an endorsement!
My impression is that the Gaastra is a bit softer than the Severne leading me to suspect that the Phantom may be better suited to the lighter sailor while the Overdrive could be a better bet for the aggressive sailor who has the weight and strength to keep it trimmed.  Both of the guys have vowed never to own another pure race sail given the performance and ease of these two machines.

Andy's Tabou 3S 96l is still proving a giant killer.  He sailed against two of our premier racers a while ago in wild conditions.  They had full slalom sails of course and one was on his small iSonic.  Both were given a spanking by Andy on the 3S and a 5.2m Gaastra Remedy.  He uses a Select SRX in the wild conditions.  I am now convinced that most of us have no need for pure slalom kit in the smaller sizes.  I now have a slightly different take on an ideal sail and board quiver and will discuss this in a future post.

That is all for now.  In the next post I will discuss some concerns regarding the 2013 Manta range and the 2013 Overdrive.  I've just noticed that Select have brought out completely new fin ranges and I will be examining these and discussing them with Anthony if I can corner him.  I will hopefully have some thoughts about these fins and some reservations to share with you.

Good winds


Monday, December 3, 2012

Dunkerbeck Visit and Some Equipment Feedback


Bjorn popped in for a visit on his way back from Namibia this weekend.  It is always nice to see the top guys in the flesh and on our sailing patch.  He had a short sail to clear his head after the long trip.  Unfortunately I had already left when he arrived and so did not see him but he borrowed one of Grant's boards and went out with his own Reflex 6.2.  Some of the locals had the opportunity to talk with him and report that he is a really nice guy.

I've been sailing my 2012 Falcon 113 quite regularly and finally have it tuned for the 2 sails I use it with.  This board is a total performance machine - quite harsh and clattery over chop but easy to control.  It needs wind to get going but if you are powered up, things become easy and everything seems to fall into place.  If you are not powered up (ie if you keep falling off the plane) the ride is miserable.  Under-powered the board feels sticky on the water and is exhausting.  Also notable with the Falcon is its propensity to dive if you let your weight bear too far forward in transitions.  I started to be conscious of this trait after Eric Kaminga mentioned it to me in an e-mail.  It is not serious for me but I can understand how it could be really annoying if you tack your board often and are not quite quick enough through the move.

Andy was able to sail Lorch's Glider 105 and was really impressed.  I am grateful for Andy because of the way he sails and evaluates windsurfing equipment.  When he sails he usually blasts against Harry and some other really good sailors, all on optimized kit.  This blasting is at top speed over real world conditions and the sole aim of these guys is to maximize speed in the prevailing conditions.  Each sailor is keenly aware of how fast they should be going and if they are on a new piece of equipment they can tell immediately whether it is better or worse than their normal stuff, based on how far ahead or behind their main competitor they end up after each run.  Any piece of equipment, therefore, is put through the fire when being evaluated.  Speed over the entire course is the main criterion – concepts such as easy cruising, ability in waves, happiness generated or brand loyalty, are all irrelevant.

This all means that if a piece of equipment gets the nod from Andy, I know that it is something special as far as flat out blasting and controlled gybing goes.  If he is excited by a particular board, I pay close attention.  Well the Lorch got him excited so rest assured - this is one awesome board.  He recons that the standard fin is totally acceptable.  You would  buy a really good fin with this board but the standard one would make a fine spare.


We don't know much about the Lorch brand here and only see one of their boards when a visiting sailor from Europe happens to bring his own equipment and happens to have one in his bag.  What I like (in addition to the performance potential discovered by Andy) is the fact that they can build most of their designs in a super light construction if you are interested.  Look at the Platinum SL weights on this chart!  A Glider 105 weighing under 5kg!  Awesome (but probably awesomely expensive as well)    

    Platinum LinePlatinum Line SL
    Glider 954.904.65
    Glider 1055.204.95
    Glider 1205.505.25
    129 Breeze6.205.95
    142 Breeze6.406.15
    Oxygen 604.504.25
    Oxygen 674.704.45
    Oxygen 734.804.55
    Oxygen 835.004.75
    Oxygen 935.505.25

They have introduced their new Offroad model for 2013 (a rival for Tabou's 3S) and I would give anything to test one of these in view of the results achieved with Andy's 3S 96.

Three notable slalom sails to have broken cover recently are Avanti's Condor, Severne's Overdrive and Gaastra's Phantom.  Each one of these sails is going to be fantastic for the advanced blaster who wants to blow everything else off the water.

That is all for now.  Talk to you soon

Tabou 3S 96 and 106


I promised to give some feedback on the Tabou boards we are currently interested in.  I wrote in a previous post about the excellent blasting performance Andy was able to extract from his Tabou 3S 96 with two Select Eagle fins (29 and 31).  Well he screwed a Select S12-33 onto the board and took his high wind performance up significantly.  On this combination (with Gaastra Remedy 6.0) in strong wind, he is virtually unbeatable by any of the really hot local sailors.

I took the 96 out with the S12 fin and my Gaastra Cross 6.4 on a windy day in some quite big rolling chop and it cooked.  The reason you can push the speed so high over rough water is its incredible comfort in these conditions.  Comfort=confidence=speed.  You still feel all the bumps but somehow you are able to maintain control where other boards would be losing it.  I’m not as fast as Andy but on this combination in proper wind I am as fast as I can go with any board/sail combination I can think of.  Very impressive and these revelations have caused me to re-think my ideal board quiver.  I used to think that the Rocket 95 would be my high wind board but now I have no hesitation in recommending the 3S 96 for this slot.  If you want to try a 3S 96 in this role remember to put a fast fin under it, attach all 4 straps as far back and as far out as possible.  Your mast foot should be towards the front of the track.  The plate of the mast foot should completely cover the front of the track.
Interestingly, I got to try the 3S 106 on the same day as I took Andy’s 96 out.  This board had been set up with 3 straps inboard and to the front. It also had the standard fin so I rode it accordingly – enjoying the swells and taking it easy.  The board behaved impeccably – relaxed control with awesome support through the gybes.  I would really like to get the 106 out on the water, set up for speed and see how it performs.  I would also really like to ride the 3S 116 in both strap/fin configurations.  I would choose a Select S12-39 for this board.

I'm looking forward to trying the 2013 Rocket 105 with Select S12-35 soon and will report back if I get a chance.  Fabien is one of the current board designers who is really getting his act together.  He embodies the concept of continuous improvement in board design with his evolutionary approach.  Nice work Fabien!      


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

New Fins and Sails

Since the last post Andy and I have had the opportunity to ride some of the new freeride boards.  We have also been experimenting with Andy's Tabou 3S 96 with an S12 Select fin.  I will devote an entire post to the Tabou stuff.  I will then cover the Lorch Glider, Fanatic Hawk, (and the RRD Firemove if we get to ride it) in another post.  Before all of this I want to discuss some of the new stuff on the market.

Three VMax fins from Select came in the other day and Anthony called me in to have a look at them before they were shipped to their new owner.  The fins are extremely attractive, wrapped completely in carbon fiber weave - light and strong, each fin a work of art.  They are really stiff which is a slight concern for me since we are all falling for the soft compliance of the new S12's.  The rake and shape of the fins is completely different from the S12 so this may impart good control characteristics to the fin.  The feedback from the power sailor who received the fins has been great.  He is stoked but he is also really heavy, really strong and really skilled so I am going to reserve judgement on the VMax until I get to ride one.    

The other new equipment comes from Avanti.  They now have some other sails and masts on their site.  The Poweride is a blasting sail to rival the likes of  Severne's Gator, Gaastra's Cross and North's X-Type.

I would love to take one for a spin.  The construction is both light and strong and I have a feeling that Dan has imbued the thing with some magic.  Aesthetically I would prefer the head of the sail to follow the lines of their Viper wave sail but this is a minor niggle.

The Avanti Viper is a wave sail which looks so right to me.

The weights on this sail are less than any other I can find.  A 5 meter Viper weighs 2.7kg.  Compare this to a Severne Blade 5.0m (one of the lightest sails on the market) which weighs 3.12kg.  Rig your Viper 5.0 on the Avanti Spine RDM mast (1.3kg) and the two weigh only 4kg.  Now add a carbon boom from Powerex weighing in at 1.8kg and your entire rig weighs less than 6kg.  Fantastic!

The Avanti guys are not playing.  The people they use to manufacture their masts, also work on projects for NASA.  Intellect, advanced materials and military tolerances - three of my favorite things!  They do not show their Condor freerace sail yet.  This is a 3 cam model which should be really interesting.  For me they are missing a high performance camless (7 batten) model in the line-up but this may be in the pipeline.

I will talk about the Tabou 3S 96, the 3S 106 and the new Rocket 105 in the next post.

Good winds

Thursday, November 8, 2012

2013 Equipment

I sailed Andy's 3S 96 yesterday and it once again performed faultlessly.  I was on my 6.4 Cross and his 29cm Eagle fin.  A nice combination for trouble-free sailing but not enough grunt from the fin for serious blasting with mates.  Tabou have really nailed it as far as support through the gybes goes.  This goes for their slalom boards too of course.

Andy himself came by in the afternoon, screwed in a 31cm Eagle fin and proceeded to present a master class in high wind speed sailing.  Unbelievable speed over rough water using both his 6.0m Remedy and then his 5.2m Remedy (I think).  The great thing about these boards is that you can sail them briskly over rough water, put in a swept back fin and play in the waves and then get really serious and launch into strong wind with the appropriate fin/sail combo and blow almost everything else off the water.  I'm not sure that the Tabou guys are fully aware of this side of the board.  Granted you need to be a really good power sailor but take it from me the potential is there.

Andy was also testing the new Rocket 105 a while ago and this board is looking impressive.  He had a Select S11 (or S12?) fin under it and his 6.0 Remedy.  This combo easily hung with the race stuff on the runs when he had sufficient wind.  The feeling amongst the guys who rode this board was that either it is slower than the old Rocket 105 or it is so comfortable that it just feels slow.  Well my assessment is that it is a rocket ship.  I have the same feeling about this board that I had about the Manta 71.  A really special piece of equipment.

Several of the new slalom sails are breaking cover.  North's new Warp looks stunning.    

What I like about these sails is the fact that they have 7 battens.  Lighter and simpler.  I also like the fact that they have cut down on the length of the batten overhang above the back of the boom.  Way to go North!

The new Vapors and Phantoms are on the Gaastra site now.  Awesome looking sails as I said before.

I may get the chance to test some freeride boards over the next few weeks (Exocet Cross, RRD Freeride etc) and I will report back if I do.

Talk to you soon

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

New Equipment Feedback

In this post I will give some feedback on the Savage 7.8, the 2012 Falcon 113 and a brief comment on the Tabou 3S 96l but first let me tell you what happened regarding my search for a good waist harness.

As I mentioned last time I have planned to get a decent waist harness.  The hook on my old one rides up and my ribs and back get punished.  Waist harnesses are not generally used by my fellow slalom sailors here.  The local blasters are really seat harness people who give you strange looks if you rock up in anything else.  The upshot is that we know mighty little about waist harnesses.

I did some research and the waist harness I would choose is the Mystic Shadow - a serious and elegant piece of engineering.

Unfortunately the Mystic suppliers here are all kite shops and do not stock windsurfing stuff.  Anyway, I decided to look at some kite harnesses and went into the Kitelab here in Langebaan.  A consignment of Dakine's Pyro waist harnesses had just arrived and the price was excellent.  I decided to buy one and give it a go.

clickerbar3 kite spreader

If you decide to try a kiting harness I would avoid this type of hook.  I believe that they refer to it as a hammerhead spreader.  I suspect that it would be difficult for us to unhook quickly from this.

The good price on the Pyro allowed me to take a gamble on the thing.


Note that the hook looks a lot like a windsurfing hook and the whole thing is really well made (it is the top of their range).  I have now used the harness quite a few times and must say that on the water it is excellent.  It gives massive lumbar support and is ridiculously comfortable.  Hooking and unhooking is totally trouble free.  I'm stoked!  What a pleasure when a piece of equipment does exactly what it purports to do.  Who would have thought that the dark side could produce something this good for a windsurfer!

I have also had the opportunity to do some sailing with the 7.8 Savage against Gareth on his cammed 7.5m.  I definitely struggle to get going as quickly as he does.  I also battle to stay upwind of him on a run.  We are going to do a lot more sailing with these two sails and I will keep you informed.  The things I have no problem with, are sailing the Savage overpowered at speed, gybing with no rotating problems, easy downhauling etc.

I am getting used to my Falcon 113 and the process is interesting.  The board is nowhere near as quick to plane as my old Falcon 104 so it needs power.  When it gets going it is way more controllable over rough water at speed.  I need to re-set all my equipment combinations for the various wind strengths.  This board is going to be ridden in far greater wind strengths than the 104.  I know that a forward mast foot position is recommended but I go quite nicely with a mid track setting when using the 6.4m Cross.  With the 7.8 Savage it seemed to work well at the front but I'm not totally sure yet.

Andy very kindly suggested that I ride his 3S 96 and give you some feedback.  I took it out today with a Select Eagle 29 fin underneath and my Tushingham Storm 5.0m on top.  A nice combination I think, but the wind was far too strong.  I got flattened so could not give it a fair run.  The few gybes I managed were unbelievably easy however.  The 3S supports you beautifully through every stage of the carve.  A bit of witchcraft right there.  I look forward to doing more on this board and Anthony has said that I can take his 3S 86 out as well for comparison.    Watch this space.

Talk to you soon  


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Savage 7.8 Feedback

Sorry for the break but I have been quite busy sailing.  The Savage 7.8m is proving a really nice sail for fully powered blasting.  As previously stated it is not good in really light winds but this should not be an issue for the type of sailor who is going to buy this model.  If you need to go in really light winds use a 9m+ cambered sail on a floaty slalom board.  This 7.8 is for the blasting specialist.  Gareth and I may get the chance to do some back to back comparisons (cammed freerace/Savage) today since the wind is lighter than it has been for the past week.

I discovered that I am able to sail the Savage using a waist harness.  This is interesting because I was never able to do this with my North Ram 7.8m.  I don't seem to have the strength or weight to trim a big cambered race sail with a waist harness.  The fact that I can sail the Savage comfortably with a waist harness indicates how user friendly it is.  This development got me thinking about waist harnesses.  My current harness is not up to scratch so I decided to get something which works properly.  I will cover this over the next few posts and give some feedback on my options, the choice I made and the results.

I have replaced my beloved Falcon 104 with a 2012 Falcon 113 and I will be giving some feedback on this board in the weeks to come.  I rode the 113 yesterday and it really hauls ass in strong wind.  Not as comfortable as the Manta 71 nor as floaty in the gybes but it is going to be a lot of fun getting to grips with it this season.

Talk to you soon

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

New Falcons and some 7.8m Feedback


Those of you who watch these things will have noticed that the 2013 Fanatic performance boards have been posted onto the site.  The new Falcons look great as usual and they have included a 152L (90cm wide) board in the line-up.  This is good news and will be something to consider against the Starboard Ultrasonic 147L.  I wish that I could get hold of these two boards for some back to back testing.  Not likely unfortunately.  The small and medium Falcons seem little changed from last year but the bigger boards now have cut-outs under them.

The Falcon teaser video is worth watching and contains some nice gybing footage.

Look out for:
  • Entry speed (most of us enter the gybe way too slowly - watch these guys!) 
  • Knees bent pointing at the center of the carving circle, arms straight
  • Flare/step/flip (in that order!)
  • Maintain weight on the inside rail and look out of the gybe in the direction of the exit line.

The other model of interest to me is the Hawk.  I watched them testing the new 97L here last year and it cooked over the chop.  Maybe not as fast as the Rockets but probably more fun.

If you're considering this board please go for the Ltd edition.  Much lighter!

I promised to give feedback on my new Savage 7.8 and a few of you have contacted me asking for details.  The wind has been a bit scarce over the last few weeks so I have only used this sail 3 times - twice in very light wind.  The one decent sail I had was great.  The wind was strong for a 7.8 and I could easily have sailed with my 6.4 Cross but the sailing was fast, easy and comfortable with the extra sail area.  The sail is extremely stable when powered up (solid as a rock) and the low swing weight and instant rotation make gybing a pleasure. 

On the down side I really battled in the light winds.  When off the plane the sail feels heavy and lifeless.  I have to say that there were times when I felt that I could definitely have got going with my old North Ram but just bobbed on the Savage, pumping to no avail and taking major strain to back and legs.

My feeling now is that if you are a heavy sailor you probably need to look at a cammed sail in the big sizes.  If you are a smaller sailor and 7.5 is going to be your biggest sail then also consider cams.  I am totally relaxed since I have 9m and 9.8m sails for light winds, both with cams.  I'm sure that I am going to have a really good season with the Savage.  I may need to hold on to the 9m a bit longer than when I was using the 7.8m Ram.  The wind strengths that I sail it in will be greater than for the Ram.  It is early days however and I will continue to give feedback as soon as Gareth gets here (3 weeks time).  We can then do some direct comparisons on the water between the Savage and his cammed slalom sail.

Talk to you soon     

Thursday, September 20, 2012

New Severne Kit

Severne has uploaded details of most of the 2013 equipment onto its site.  These guys continue to improve and innovate.  The race sails are only due for release in December but everything else seems to be there.  The (non-racing) sails which are of interest to us here in Langebaan are Blade, Gator, NCX, and Turbo.  Each of these sails looks stunning and I look forward to seeing them on the water.

The new Red Line rdm masts are also out and to my delight appear to be the lightest rdm's on the market.  I thought that North had cracked it with the Aero Platinum mast but Severne leads on weight.  Fantastic!  Severne seems really serious about becoming a one stop, quality shop for all sail and rig components.  Their carbon booms have been re-designed and now incorporate new ergonomic shapes and a cleaver "lock jaw front end".  They have also improved their excellent Grenade carbon wave extension.  All most impressive.

Talk to you soon    

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Some Feedback and new Equipment

I will share with you some of the feedback I have had from readers because the decisions we wrestle with in this sport are quite universal.

Dani Bonamusa e-mailed me for advice about re-structuring his board and sail quiver.  He has a 122l X-Fire, a Manta 69 and a Freewave 95 with sails - 9.2m Turbo, 7.5m NCX, 6.7m Hellcat and a 5.2m wave sail.  In my opinion a great selection of sail and board sizes.  Dani wants to streamline and is considering going down to 2 boards - 1 slalom and a freeride.  His idea is that he sells his two existing slalom boards and replaces them with a Manta 71.  He would then buy an 8.6m race sail (to replace his 9.2, I assume).  This would leave him with the Manta 71, the Fanatic 95 and a nice spread of sails.  I have to say that if I were forced to pick only one slalom board it would definitely be the Manta 71.  It has the flotation to carry big sails but is also fantastically manageable over rough water in strong winds.  The 95 is also a great partner for this board.  I think that Dani's plan is absolutely correct.  What he has to recognize however, is that the 71 is not going to be able to sail in as light a wind as his current 122l RRD.  You can't have everything.

If Dani goes ahead with his plan, his equipment will cover a huge wind range.  Furthermore, if he finds that he is missing out too much in light winds, then he can buy a Manta 84 with a 10m (ish) sail to give a truly top notch quiver with the correct spacing between boards.  If I were Dani and I decided to go with the 2 board choice, I would try the 71 with the existing 9.2 Turbo before selling it.  The board may just hold the Turbo easily and he could save some money.

Both Tabou and Gaastra are getting their 2013 equipment loaded onto their respective sites.  The race stuff is still not loaded but the other equipment is there.  Tabou has quite a nice concept - the Product Lightbox which details on a simple diagram what conditions/sails their respective board shapes are designed for.  I note that the diagram has incorrectly placed the Manta and the Rocket on the wheel.  Not serious but it shows the importance of getting a windsurfer to proof read material before it is loaded onto the site.  You or I can pick this sort of mistake up in seconds.  A web design guy - not so fast.

North has put some new hardware on its site.  The new UNI.XT extensions look great I have to say (where are the carbon fiber ones guys?)  Their new Platinum Aero masts also look like something special.  Look at the weights of the RDM masts.  Excellent!  I am excited about these masts because I have found that North masts are compatible with most sail brands.  I have a current model 460 Platinum and it is a fine product but too heavy.  The new Aero puts this right.  Nice work North!

Our season is about to start.  Winter is releasing its grip and our summer wind patterns are beginning to return.  As soon as I have the chance to test any of the new equipment I will report back.  I have bought the Savage 7.8 and am looking forward to giving it a proper test.

Good winds





Length (cm)IMCSSail Range (2011)Weight (kg)Carbon (%)Carbon Fibre Quality
430215.0 - 6.91.4100T 800
460255.4 - 8.4 (9.5*)1.55100T 800
490288.0 - 9.01.75100T 800


Length (cm)IMCSSail Range (2011)Weight (kg)Carbon (%)Carbon Fibre Quality
370173.0 - 4.51.15100T 800
400193.7 - 5.7 (6.2*)1.25100T 800
430215.4 - 6.91.45100T 800

Friday, August 31, 2012

PWA Alacati


The Alacati event is well underway with the usual suspects at the front of the field.  The first three places in each of the winners finals so far are as follows:

Race 1                  Vd Steen

Race 2                  Albeau

Race 3                  Albeau
                             Vd Steen

Race 4                 Volwater
                            Vd Steen

Race 5                 Albeau
                            Vd Steen

Race 6                 Albeau

Points to note are Peter Volwater's great run in the 4th race and the fact that Ross Williams is making his presence felt.  Also, Taty Frans is causing some alarm.  Watch this guy if he decides to stay with slalom.   Bear in mind that the above heats are the culmination of all of the eliminating heats and just to get into them is the mark of a slalom master.
If you click on "Elimination 4 Mens Final" on the PWA TV section of the PWA site you can see the Volwater bullet on video.  Nice race and those of you keen on the Manta 71, watch Ross hold his own against the world's best (he is on the 71 and 7.9m Vapor.  Peter is on his Falcon 113 and Avanti 7.7m)  Ross comes in third after being pipped at the very end by Ben.

The standard of sailing at Alacati is off the chart.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

New 2013 Equipment

I'll use this post to provide information on a few boards and sails which may be of interest to us and also to share some of the feedback I've had from readers.

The new Mantas are in the final stages of being nailed down and here is the up to date picture as far as I can establish.  You will note that the 85 has been dropped.  I have had queries about which model is best - 84 or 85.  I think that the 2013 line-up indicates that the 84 is the shape they are pinning their hopes on so if you want my  advice between the two sizes -  I would go for the 84.  Also note that they are marking the 61, 71, and 84 as new shapes.  My feeling is that they have used the same geometry as the 71 for each of these new shapes so each of these 3 boards needs to be taken really seriously.

This is the new Thunder, a model they bill as an early planing freeride board in 110/70, 120/75, 130/80 litres/cm wide.  I'm not all that interested in these boards but if you have a partner who is learning, then one of these could be something to buy.  Way better than any training board since you can use it yourself in light wind/ocean swells.

The Rocket continues to evolve and improve.  What more can one say.  The interesting thing for us is the fact that the 105 is now 63 cm wide (as opposed to 62cm).  This effectively moves it apart a bit from the 95 which is still 58cm wide.  Nice!

Gaastra's new Vapor looks amazing once again.  Note that they have dropped the enclosed clew for a more normal inset position.  I think that this is a good thing.  I am not a great fan of either the enclosed clew or the huge overhanging batten above the boom.  This overhang doesn't look too obtrusive - we'll have to wait until we have one on the beach and I'll give my verdict.  They have dropped the enclosed clew for all of their performance sails (Vapor, Phantom and Savage) and we await their appearance here for testing and comparison.

Starboard has taken the concept of its 117wide iSonic and tweaked it, reducing the volume by 7 liters.  They now have an iSonic of 110 liters in volume but 75cm wide - so an extremely flat, light board.  Interesting and something I would really like to test.  I have a good feeling about this board for light to moderate winds where I'm betting it is a rocket ship.

Thank you to those of you who have given feedback on equipment bought.  I am surprised at how many of you have bought Manta 71's.  I'm not surprised to learn that you are enjoying them and setting personal best speeds for this size of board.  Great stuff.  What is coming through from the guys who have given feedback is that once you ride a 71, your intention to also buy a 79 Manta changes immediately and you start looking at an 84 or 85.  I have made my recommendation between these two boards in the text above.

Eric Kamminga reminded me of the floatability of the 71.  It's nose has that extra volume which gives so much confidence.  I don't think I commented on this specific attribute when I reviewed the board but as soon as I read his comment I knew exactly what he was talking about.  Eric was sailing with a power sailor who easily maintained a 79kph average on the 71 in (from what I gather) quite unremarkable winds.  Other comments regarding the 71 include the comfort afforded by the straps (how they are positioned and how they feel).  This is quite an important thing and one which we don't really pay enough attention to.  Remember comfort = speed!

Talk to you soon    

Friday, August 17, 2012

2 New Boards

Two new boards which may be of interest are the Gecko from Fanatic and Naish's new Bullet.

The Gecko is a freeride board which looks extremely easy to plane, sail and turn (look at the teaser video on the site).  Not the fastest thing on the water but a nice board to have on those days when you need to give the blasting a break and just have fun, polish the gybes or try new moves.  You may have a partner who is not keen to blast at full speed all the time and this looks like a great board for such a sailor.  The board comes in 3 widths (69, 77, 83).  They give no weights at this stage and I have to say that I expect these boards to be a bit heavy.  We shall see when all the specs are available.  Too much weight will be a pity because this type of board should be feather light.
I am attracted to the width, the flatness and the large range of foot strap positions.

Naish has resumed making proper light slalom boards for 2013.  Up to now they have had the Grand Prix - a nice board I am sure, but in a heavy construction.  The Bullet promises to be light, fast and comfortable over rough conditions.  Naish have kept away from the modern trend to wider, shorter boards and also, they do not increase board lengths in the smaller sizes, opting to increase length as the boards get bigger.  If it were some other company doing this I would be the first to criticize but these guys know what they are doing.  They test their stuff in their own sailing ground and the videos show that conditions there can get wild.  Robby is a grand master of course so I have to believe that the boards are something special.  Unfortunately they are off limits for us here but I would really love to test one.

The sizes are 95/60cm, 115/66cm, 130/78.  All in all quite long, narrow and fat compared to most of the other slalom boards out there today.

One thing I like about Naish slalom boards is the two rows of foot strap holes.  The site states that the boards come with Deboichet SL7 fins.  I had never heard of such a fin and Deboichet's site makes no mention of an SL7.

Well here it is.

Not a bad looking fin but in Deboichet's cheaper construction.  I hope the fins are man enough for the job.  Always remember, you can wreck the performance of a board by putting the wrong fin under it.

Talk to you soon

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Windsurfing Speed Record

Hi from a cold, black, wet and stormy Langebaan.  We have enjoyed some fantastic weather lately - clear sun filled days made all the better by the fact that the flowers are out but the last couple of days have been really bleak.  I suppose that this is a small price to pay for all the cloudless, windy days we get between October and March.

Joos told me about Jurjen van der Noord's new speed record adding that Jurjen had used a Severne NCX in his record breaking run.  Just a tip for those of you interested in speed sailing, you can very quickly get all the info you need regarding any of the top speed guys on  This site gives you each sailor's registered times and also his boards, sails and fins so you can verify details very quickly and easily.  Jurjen's quiver comprises four Reflex3s and one NCX (6.5m).   Severne's site provides details of the record breaking run accompanied by photo's of Jurjen with his NCX.  I noted from the speedsailing site that Jurjen's boards are all Starboards so I went to the Starboard site where I found a better interview about this particular session.  In this interview it is revealed that the sail used to break the record was in fact Jurjen's Reflex3, 5.6m (on an iSonic speed W44).

Note the distortion on the sail - massive pressures in 50k of wind!

So no record for the camless brigade but it is still significant that one of the top guys includes a camless sail in his quiver.  If this NCX 6.5m is fast enough for Jurjen, believe me it is more than fast enough for you.

As I mentioned briefly in the last post, Gaastra's 2013 wave sails are out as is their new Cross.  A striking sail and I note that they are now recommending their Gold rdm mast for it.  Up to now they have always specified their Silver mast.  The Gold rdm is absolutely the right mast for these sails.  Nice job Gaastra and Peter.
  2013 Gaastra Cross
Look at the colors on this Cross.  Stunning!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The 7.8m Decision

In the last post I mentioned that Jeremy was deciding what to replace his 7.5m Gaastra GTX with.  Jeremy is a good sailor who enjoys going fast but is not interested in "balls-to-the-wall" dicing.  He wants his equipment to deliver fun rather than terror.  I on the other hand feel that a bit of terror now and again teaches you to handle overpowered conditions and makes you a better sailor.  Two of our power sailors, Andy and Harry, live in what for me, is the terror zone.  They have developed the skill and power to be able to handle these conditions which is why they are almost impossible to keep up with.

The above comments demonstrate some typical differences between a sample of windsurfers and these differences need to be considered when deciding upon a sail.  Before you run out and buy something, you need to decide exactly what you expect from the equipment.  If you expect ease of use and the ability to cruise in flat 7.5m conditions you will need one type of sail.  If you want to tear the water up with your 7.5 in overpowered conditions you are going to need something different.  Thankfully most of the good sail brands supply sails to meet all of our respective requirements.  My approach is to define 4 categories:

  • Cammed performance
  • Cammed soft
  • Camless performance
  • Camless soft  

You will first decide whether you want a cammed or a camless sail.  Then decide whether you want something comfortable and fun or whether you need something a bit harder which will get you away from the start a bit quicker and allow you to plane quicker out of the gybes.  Remember, the harder the sail, the harder it is going to work your body.  A harder sail is harder to sail.

The type of sail you will need if you are keen to maximize speed is the Gaastra Phantom 7.8m, the North Ram 7.8m and Severne's Overdrive 7.5m.  These are all great sails and if rigged properly and married with the right board/fin combo, will enable you to frighten sailors on pure race sails.  They will all allow you to sail well into heavy wind and remain in control.  They are all a little too heavy for my liking but if you are strong and athletic then this will not be an issue for you.  

If you are set on cams but need a softer experience, you should be considering Severne's 7.5m Turbo, North's 7.8m SType and Ezzy's Lion 7.5m.  These are all much softer but are still fast, light and a joy to use.

The camless performance sails to consider will include Gaastra's Savage 7.8, Severne's NCX 7.5, Pryde's Hellcat 7.7, and the Sailworks Retro 7.5.  These can all smoke when rigged properly and will keep up with the hardest of race sails on most sailing angles.

Camless soft sails to consider will be Gaastra's Matrix 7.5, Severne's Gator 7.5, North's XType 7.8, Ezzy's Cheetah 7.5 and the Loft Oxygen 7.4m.  All of these sails will be really nice to use and you will find that when you push them into strong winds, you will almost certainly go faster than you ever thought possible on a big sail.  They are also light, easy to rig, not particularly mast specific and as an extra bonus, are easy to store in a rigged but de-tensioned state.  Most of these sails will switch easily from a slalom to a freeride board (from your 71 Manta to your 115 Rocket Limited for instance).

Jeremy chose the Matrix 7.5m - a perfect solution for his particular requirements.

In closing, I note that Gaastra has put its 2013 wave sails on its website.  Nice looking sails, great graphics!

Talk to you soon        


Sunday, August 5, 2012

PWA Notes and Some New Equipment Thoughts


I have been back for a while but needed a break from the blog.  Anyway, I am back now and we have things to consider.  The PWA Sotavento event was held last month and Finian won the slalom racing.  This is good news given his recent spate of bad luck with injuries and equipment breakages.  He says that the design of the Avanti sails helped him in the rough, gusty conditions, allowing him to maintain control.  He adds that the softness of the new sails gave him an advantage.  That is what I keep hammering on about - even superstars need comfort to maximize performance!

The top 6 guys were Finian, Ben, Antoine, Bjorn, Cyril and Julien Quentel.  These guys were all on either RRD X-Fires or Starboard iSonics.  Food for thought.  Ben vd Steen is, as I have said before a force to be reckoned with and on his new equipment combo of Loft and Starboard, is becoming "quite a handful" (to use Johnny's understated turn of phrase).  Cyril is definitely getting to grips with the Reflex3's.  He has been near the top in the last two meetings.  Interesting times.

Here is Ben kicking ass.  Note the Loft sail's dual shaping in action.  The bottom section delivers power while the top section spills wind.  The sections are divided by that black tendon and the use of different materials - nice!

On the new equipment front, some of the brands have their 2013 wave and freeride sails out.  Severne, North and Maui Sails are all showing new lines and there are some nice things.  Severne's Blade looks really cool and is going to perform I'm sure.  North's ID is lighter than equivalent sails from Severne and from Maui Sails (Blade and Ghost xt).  I usually berate North for the heaviness of their sails but not in this case.  Well done guys.

RRD have a new mast which they bill as the lightest rdm on the market.  This has been out for a while but is worth a mention.  They don't give weights on the site unfortunately.

It is called the CDM C100 and they claim a new manufacturing technique incorporating "nano carbon fibres".  I'm sure that this is not quite as exciting as it sounds but one thing I have learned about RRD is that they generally do things better than other companies so if you are looking for something special in an rdm mast, give this one some thought.

Our sailing season here is rapidly approaching and most of us are looking at our sail and board quivers and deciding what to replace.  As I have mentioned, I am replacing my beloved North Ram 7.8m with a camless sail.  I am almost decided that this will be a Gaastra Savage and will probably go this way if I can get a good price.  Jeremy, one of my sailing partners has been agonizing over a replacement for his Gaastra GTX 7.5 and is also leaning towards something camless.  In the next post I will let you know what he decided upon and list some of the other options you could consider if you are in a similar position.

Talk to you soon

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Going Away

Just a short note to say that I will be away for a while.  We are going into the mountains and may not have Internet connectivity.  Talk to you when I am back
Good winds

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Ideal Sail Quiver - 5


The last sail to discuss is the smallest one and like the boards, this may be a contentious recommendation.  For this board and sail collection my small sail is going to be a wave sail of 4.7m.  Wave sails are really not that good for day to day blasting but for wickedly overpowered conditions, I find that a small wave sail works well.  This is because you can instantly de-power it and then quickly power up again when required just by sheeting in and out.  This gives control, a degree of comfort and sufficient speed over the chop.  Flat out speed is not really of prime importance in these conditions.  Another advantage is that if you want to have a go in the waves, this is the machine.

 My particular choice for this sail is going to be Severne's Blade 4.7m.  The Blade is both powerful and easy to control.  The strong winds which occur here are sometimes quite gusty and you need a fuller sail to keep you planing in the lulls (you will be on your smallest board remember).  The sail also needs to be able to handle fierce gusts and this is one of the best for that purpose.

I notice that the new 2013 Blades are on the Severne site - check them out.  They now come with "SpiderFibre" which has allowed them to lighten the sail and to spread the forces over the area of the sail more effectively.  I hope this is more than clever marketing - knowing Severne it is probably a real advance.  We shall see when these sails hit the water.   
Beautiful things!

OK so that concludes this series of articles.  I hope they have been of some help.  You may not agree with every one of the board and sail sizes I have suggested and that is not a problem.  We are all different and our sailing conditions too, differ.  The main thing is to have a plan, specify exactly what you are going to need to get the most out of our sport given your specific circumstances and preferences.  You can then set about filling in all the sizes you have specified. This may not happen in one season but over time, as you replace equipment, you can build the optimal sail/board quiver.

Talk to you soon

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Ideal Sail Quiver - 4


Christiaan sent me quite a long e-mail regarding (among a host of other things) how the choice of windsurfing equipment determines who you associate with in your sailing time.  His message got me thinking and I will write an article on the important subject of finding one's tribe in the context of being a windsurfer when the Board/Sail articles are over.  Right now however, we have sails to discuss and the sizes in question (6.5m and 5.5m) are two which cover the high speed blasting section of the spectrum. Fun, fun, fun!

Because these sizes are smaller than 7m, my preference is that they will have no more than 6 battens.  As I mentioned before, fewer battens release the sail to breathe freely in the gusts, allowing the non-racer to keep the board under control in the gusts and over the chop.

The right 6.5m soft sail is totally at ease with the 68 -71cm slalom board loaded with the 39cm fin.  You will find the rig unbelievably light after the performance oriented 7.8m sail, and your transitions through the gybes (step and flip) are so effortless you will find yourself grinning from ear to ear.  The straight line speed on this combination is potentially far faster than you might imagine.  Anyone doubting this should visit us here in Langebaan in November, come to the beach on a windy day with your 6.5m race sail and ask for Andy or Harry.  Once you have located them, your mission (should you accept it), is to keep pace with either of them over the course they are sailing.  We do not expect you to beat either of them, just try to stay in the picture.  Unless you are a national level racer, I am betting that you are going to fail.  The right soft, 6.5m sail on a fast board/fin combo is dynamite and the wonderful thing is that it provides so much control, pleasure and excitement at these speeds.  The other neat thing is that this sail is even better on a small slalom board and the 115l and 95l Rockets as the water state gets rough.  As the conditions intensify, just change down on boards and keep the trusty 6.5 flying.  I would opt for an rdm mast on this sail to keep things soft.  Gaastra's current gold rdms are fantastic and will definitely work with the Cross, Gator and Switch.  I'm not sure about the Oxygen - I would need to try one on a gold before I could comment.    

Here is a list of the recommended models for this size:

  • Gaastra Cross 6.4m
  • Severne Gator 6.5m
  • Loft Oxygen 6.6m
  • Maui Sails Switch 6.4m  

My personal sail in this size is the Gaastra Cross but any of them will give you fantastic service.  The Severne Gator is popular on our beach and I have never heard anyone say anything bad about a Gator - wonderful sails.

All of the above points go for the 5.5m soft sails as well.  Unfortunately the Oxygen comes in at 5.3 and
5.9m so I would probably confine my selection to the 3 other brands for this size.

Comparing a fast crossover sail to a pure race sail is an interesting exercise.  If you could give each sail an attitude and a voice the race sail would sound something like this:
"We are going to go fast.  Pay attention! If you sheet out I will punish you again and this time I hope you face plant.  If you go into the gybe too slowly I am going to try to rip your arms out.  I'm not rotating properly? Just kick me you idiot and stop whining.  Do you want to win or are you going to cry? Harden up you pussy!

The crossover sail would sound like this:
"What are we doing today boss? Swells? flat water blasting? How can I help? You're worried about sheeting out? - No problem - just sheet in again and we'll catch them before the end of the run.  Lets go and have some fun!"

Talk to you soon.  Only one more sail left.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Ideal Sail Quiver - 3

Hi All
Thank you to everyone who has e-mailed with feedback on this series of articles.  Thanks for your time and attention - much appreciated.

Today I am going to be discussing a hugely important sail in the range - the 7.8m.  The right 7.8m sail can be used in light to medium winds with the big 81cm board.  It can be held as the wind picks up and used with the 68-71cm wide board with a 43cm fin.  It can then be held in quite strong wind on the same board with the 39cm fin.  Downhaul it properly and you will surprise yourself at how deep into the strong wind you can hold it.  Our challenge therefore, is to identify a sail which will enable planing in light winds and still give the control needed to facilitate high wind blasting with optimal comfort and maximum fun.

Up until about a year ago my belief was always that if your sail was bigger than 7.0m, it had to have camber inducers.  This season I am challenging this point of view and will be replacing my North Ram with a camless  7.8m sail.  I'm not sure that this is a wise move but we will see and I will be reporting back to you on its performance compared with similar sized race and freerace sails.  My short list for this sail is as follows:

  • Sailworks Retro 7.5
  • Severne NCX 7.5
  • Gaastra Savage 7.8
  • North X Type 7.8

Gaastra's Savage is too heavy at 5.4kg but this is not enough to exclude it from the list.  North's X Type is surprisingly light at 4.8kg (I usually criticize North for the weight of their sails but this one is fine) and the Severne is of course the lightest at 4.6 kg.  Every one of these sails has 7 battens and sets on a 460 mast.  The North may look a bit softer and less performance orientated but don't believe this.  My experience with North sails tells me that this is one special sail - fast, light and easy.  

   2012 Retro 10.0       

I can't get through to the Gaastra site for the Savage - they must be doing maintenance.

Because our local dealer sells Gaastra and Severne I am probably going to buy a Savage in this size for myself.  I know that one of the other guys is buying the NCX 7.5 and another is considering a Retro so I will have lots to compare with and will keep you informed.  The bottom line is that any of these sails, rigged on the right mast with proper downhaul and outhaul will give you the speed, control and fun we are looking for.    

Before I close on this I would say that if you have never owned a pure race sail and are toying with the idea of getting one, then this is the size to go for.  Unlike the 9.0m race sail, a 7.8m is at least manageable and not too difficult in the gybes.  A pure race model will tie in beautifully with the two bigger slalom boards in the quiver and will be something to hone your racing skills in winds that are not trying to kill you.  So although I do not recommend a race sail anywhere in these articles, if you want one, then this size is the one to flirt with.  Have a look at the new Avanti sails.  With their super light masts they are looking pretty cool to me right now.  Loft's Blade looks great with an RDM mast and Severne's Reflex3 is an engineering masterpiece and potential giant killer.

I'm going to opt for fun and will not be going near any race sail but if you have the strength and ambition to race, go for it.

That's all for now.  All the best and good winds

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Ideal Sail Quiver - 2


I will start with the biggest size and move down the range by size.  The first sail therefore, is the 9m.

What we don't want in this sail is some budget model which is not capable of performance sailing.  What we also don't want is a modern race sail with a huge wide sleeve, many battens and 4 or 5 cams.  These sails in the bigger sizes are a complete nightmare.  They are extremely heavy and really awkward to use.  These qualities  mean that they put huge strain on the body when they are sailed as they should be, and sailing them is nightmarish.  No fun at all!

What we do want is a fairly technical sail which is light, fast, easy to use and with plenty of bottom end power.  It should have a narrow sleeve and, as I said in the last post, may have cams to support the shape in light wind.

Cammed models to consider are Severne's Turbo, Gaastra's Cosmic and the Maui Sails Blaze.  Of these 3, I would choose the Blaze.  It has 7 battens and 3 cams, and weighs only 5.6kg.  They recommend a 520 mast but I'm pretty sure that their 490, 100% race mast would work beautifully and would result in a softer sail.

The Cosmic may be a bit too recreational for this application.  It only has 6 battens and 2 cams so maybe not quite man enough for the job.

Camless models to consider are the Severne NCX and the Sailworks Retro.  Both of these sails have huge bottom end power and are extremely fast.  Gaastra's Savage is simply too heavy in this size, weighing at a full kg more than the other two.

2012 Retro 10.0

In this size, I personally use an old Gaastra Nitro5 which I share with Andy (he bought the sail and I supply all the rig components).  The rig comprises my old Gulftech 100% carbon race mast and Fiberspar carbon boom.  The result is a feather light power source, beautifully balanced and as fast as most other sails on the water.  The sail has 4 cams but rotates so easily that one forgets they are there.  All in all a great option in this lineup.

A wildcard to consider if you live and sail in the UK, is the C4 from Demon Sails (I think their big size is 9.2m).  These are the lightest sails on the planet and are designed by two pretty serious engineers who between them possess a vast understanding of aerodynamics, sails and sailing at speed.  These are quirky sails and look like they were designed in 1985 but they are proper high tech machines.


OK, that's all for now.  Talk to you soon.