The purpose of this series of posts is to explore some options with the aim of arriving at an ideal board and sail combination for the fast freeride sailor. The emphasis will be on equipment lightness, ease of use, fun, and optimising board speed across a wide range of wind and water conditions.
· You are a sailor weighing between 75kg and 95kg. If your weight falls above or below this range, you will obviously need slightly larger/smaller equipment.
· Your prevailing sailing conditions provide flat water when the wind is light, becoming progressively wilder and bumpier as the wind strengthens.
· You are not a serious racer or speed sailor but enjoy informally dicing with your mates in a wide range of conditions.
· You do not want to spend a whole lot more money buying formula equipment.
The basic rule I use for board selection is that the lighter the wind, the racier your board needs to be. This means that your big board needs to be a pure slalom shape which is wide and as light as you can find. As the wind picks up and you change down in size, you need to consider easier board shapes and easier sails.
OK so what are we talking about?
My feeling is that the ideal board quiver would comprise 5 boards - 3 slalom and 2 freeride. I will discuss the first 2 slalom boards (starting with the biggest) in this post.
Your Big Slalom Board
Your big slalom board is between 80cm and 85cm wide. This can be sailed with a 9m and a 7.5ish sail. My pick for this board would be Starboard’s iSsonic 117Wide in carbon of course. Remember that lightness and ease of planing are paramount for this board. I am always disappointed to see visiting sailors with large (and frequently heavy) freeride boards. A light iSonic 107 (for example) will plane long before a heavy Carve 141 or a heavy Tabou Rocket 145 with the same sail and will eat the bigger board on speed. Why would you lug a heavy, sluggish board around when it gives no advantage on the water?
Go light and be fast!
You also need a powerful and compatible fin for your big board. A cost effective fin would be a Select s12 - 49cm or last year’s s10 – 49cm. If you are want to spend some serious money then consider a Z Fins 48cm or a Vector Canefire Carbon - 48cm.
The above images come from Dave Gollick’s site - windsurfingfins.co.uk . (This is a useful site for sailors who do not have a local fin supplier. Dave can ship fins to you anywhere in the world.)
If much of your prevailing wind is on the light side you may need a slightly bigger option for your big board – (Fanatic’s Falcon 140 or RRD’s X-Fire 129 for instance)
Your Medium Slalom Board
Your medium slalom board will be 68cm to 71cm wide. My first choice for this would be Tabou’s Manta 71 but Fanatic’s Falcon 113, RRD’s X-Fire 114 and Starboard’s iSonic 107 are all fantastic boards and your choice will depend on personal brand preference or the brands carried by your favourite supplier. This size of board is a crucial component of your quiver. It can be ridden in fairly strong winds but is also capable of holding sails up to 9m in size for spectacular light wind blasting. You need 2 fins and if we stay with Select these would be an s12-39cm and an s12-43cm. The 43cm fin will go with your 7.8m sail in lighter winds and this allows you to change down to the 39cm fin when the wind picks up. Keep the 7.8 up and continue smoking. You’ll be surprised at how much wind you can hold. When you start getting badly hammered, change down to your 6.5m soft sail (to be discussed). This ploy works well when the wind is gusty and you need the extra width and flotation in the lulls. The 39cm fin is extremely happy with the smaller sail.
OK that is all for now. I will discuss the smallest slalom board in the next post and will also try to get on to the two freeride boards. Subsequent posts will discuss the ideal sail quiver to go with the boards recommended.
Talk to you soon