Monday, January 2, 2012

Light Windsurfing Equipment

I wanted to do a piece about the importance of weight as a factor in the performance of windsurfing equipment.   I have a fetish for light equipment so I know that I place way too much emphasis on lightness but weight really is important when optimising one’s enjoyment of the sport. 

Karel, a visiting sailor from up north tried to get his 2010 9.3m Vapor going the other day with poor results and asked me to have a go on it.  The sail is heavy but once powered up is really fast.  What made it almost impossible to manage through transitions was the fact that it was rigged on the heaviest boom I have ever seen.  This is a full carbon boom but is really heavy and the weight is badly distributed.  The back of the boom comprises a heavy nylon back end which develops huge momentum when you swing it around through the gybe and this seems to pull you off balance -   weird and extremely unpleasant.  Every boom should be designed to be as light as possible at the back to enhance the swing action.

Here are some weight guidelines which you could use as a yardstick:

Your 7.5m (ish) sail should not weigh more than 5kg

A board of 100l to 105l should not weigh much more than 6kg

An SDM 460 mast should not weigh much more than 1.6kg
An RDM 430 mast should not weigh much more than 1.6kg and an RDM 460 mast should be around 1.8kg. 

A boom of around 150 to 200 cm should not weigh much more than 2kg.  No boom should weigh more than 3kg.

Light booms on the market right now include those from Fiberspar, Chinook, Streamlined (Angulo) and the lightest – Powerex.  Unfortunately Powerex make only two sizes of boom but if they were available here I would not be buying anything else in the sizes offered.  Their 150 to 200 cm boom weighs 1.9kg – awesome!

If you have never considered weight as a factor in sailing I urge you to try the lightest stuff you can get your hands on for a test and feel the difference for yourself.  I bet you become a lightness convert.  As consumers I believe we should be pushing manufacturers to lighten their products.

Good winds     

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