Sorry for the break but I have been pre-occupied with other things. We have had some really good wind for slalom lately which is lucky given that our sailing season is drawing to a close here. Winter is just round the corner. The Reflexes have been out in force and giving a good account of themselves (for the most part). Andy has developed some abnormally fast speeds in overpowered conditions on his Manta 69/110 with Reflex2 7.8 and Select S11 39cm fin. He has optimized all of the settings for his style and abilities and is currently untouchable in strong wind. Nice to see.
The three bits of news are as follows:
The new Vmax slalom fins from Select seemed to be priced from 20% to 26% higher than the equivalent S12's. This is based on a few of the European websites offering Select products. I can't comment on the performance of the new fins but if I can get my hands on one I will report back.
Josh Angulo has left Gun Sails to join Point-7. A good move for both Josh and for Point-7 I think.
Patrik Diethelm has joined forces with Loft Sails.
We all know how a gybe is meant to work and most of us will have purchased instructional videos to help us with the various steps so I will not restate all of the points. What I would like to do is to concentrate on two aspects of the gybe which most of us tend to do poorly even though we know about them. I have made a point lately, of observing closely the gybes of struggling gybers and also paying attention to my own gybes and this brings me to these two points:
We all know that a successful step gybe requires one to enter at speed, commit the inside rail to initiate the turn (bend knees, pull down on the boom to retain mast foot pressure, keep front arm straight etc), switch feet, flip the sail and exit. What I observe even from some experienced sailors is a failure at the stage of the foot switch and this causes the gybe to break down and stall. The thing that is often not done properly is the flaring of the sail before the step and flip. Every one of the instructional videos mention the need to flare the sail as soon as one is moving downwind but somehow most of us don't concentrate on this aspect. As you get downwind you must swing the rig towards the outside of the turn. This gives you the space to step and also seems to provide some balance during the transition.
The other aspect is the bending of the knees to initiate and maintain the banking needed to turn smoothly. I looked at a recent photo of myself gybing and my knees were nowhere near to being properly bent. I spent some time concentrating on this aspect and the improvement was immediate.
The bending of the knees is self explanatory and just needs you to concentrate on it. If you need to watch some really good sailors flaring nicely in their gybes go to the Loftsails website and watch the video called "Tarifa March Slalom with the Team". Turn the backing music track off so that you can concentrate on the moves and watch for the rig flares in the gybes (minutes 1:08, 1:46, 1:57, 2:11 etc)
On the subject of Loft Sails, their 2012 slalom sails look really hot I have to say. I started paying attention to Loft last year when Ludo Jossin and Antoine Questel started featuring in the heats. Ben van der Steen had joined Loft at that time and kicked everyone's ass in one of the finals. The sails had clearly come of age and are now a force on the tour. The 2012 Racing Blade just looks right to me. Loft sails are not sold here but if you have never considered the brand and happen to live in a part of the world serviced by them and you are looking for something a bit different then you may want to have a look at these sails. Monty Spindler is one of the grand masters of windsurfing sail design and knows what he is doing. I like the fact that all their race sails can be rigged on RDM masts (with the option of rigging on SDM if you prefer). I don't like the fact that they don't post any weights for their sails, masts or booms in their published spec sheets but this is my only niggle. Their freeride sail (Oxygen) looks extremely tasty.
Talk to you soon.