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. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Ideal Sail Quiver - 1

Hi all

I've been giving this matter quite a bit of thought and it can be a big topic if one wants to present all of one's thoughts and philosophy on each size.  I don't want to bore anyone so I am going to keep my commentary and reasoning as concise as possible.  I have just had a phone message from Christiaan from Stellenbosch saying that he is looking forward to the sail articles.  When readers have to resort to phone messages to get you to move your ass, you know you have been delaying for too long so here is the first article.

Remember what I stated at the start of the board articles - these recommendations are aimed at the advanced recreational windsurfer who enjoys dicing his or her mates over a wide range of conditions.  They are not aimed at racers, wave guys or freestylers.  Further, I am going to push camless sails as much as possible because I believe that for most of us these sails provide better speed, superior control and much, much more fun in real world conditions than race sails.

In this article I am going to list the sizes that I will be discussing in coming articles.  Here they are :

  • 9.0m with narrow sleeve and the only sail in the range where cams may be an advantage.
  • 7.8m no cam high performance sail
  • 6.5m freeride sail
  • 5.5m freeride sail
  • 4.7m wave sail     
I will be naming the specific brands for each size which I believe offer the best performance on the market today.  I may well miss your favorite brand and leave out some particularly good sail and if I do I apologize in advance but the suggestions made will be good.  

If you recall the boards suggested, you will be able to match the 2 or 3 of the above sail sizes with each of the boards.  Overlaps are essential in our sport and I hope that the sails I am going to suggest, together with the board/fin combinations, will provide some optimal overlaps to keep you blasting at your preferred level of intensity on any windy sailing day.

On the subject of ease of use and comfort, another belief of mine is that any sail which is smaller than 7.0m should have no more than 6 battens.  I find that this construction allows the sail to breathe more freely in strong winds allowing you to keep the board under control far more effectively than with a harder sail.  There are exceptions to this rule of course and if you have a 7 batten sail which is smaller than 7m you can still tame it with a carefully selected, soft mast.

OK so there are the points around which the next few articles are going to revolve.  I will start with the actual   recommendations in the next article.

Good winds     

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Ideal Board Quiver 3

I have had quite a bit of e-mail response to the last post and most of it relates to the smallest board in the suggested range.  I knew that this would be the contentious board and that is why I said last time that I would say a bit more about it this time round.  The selection of this board is going to depend on exactly what conditions your sailing spot throws at you in storm strength winds.  It will also depend on your style, proficiency and brand loyalties so one size fits all is not going to be possible.

One way to approach really strong winds is to use the time to develop skills.  You will probably have fierce chop which is difficult to gybe in.  Rather than doing what we do day in and day out (long distance dicing), use the difficult conditions to polish your gybes.  Don't go out further than 50m and use the swells to gybe.  If you make this decision you may go for a wave or a small freestyle board.  Gareth e-mailed me saying that he wants a fast board of less than 56cm wide.  He is set on continuing the normal dicing regardless of the conditions.  Andy too is a speed demon and his choice for a small board is the new Tabou 3S 96 litre.  The 3S is a fantastic board.  It does not give too much straight line speed away but gives a huge amount of comfort over horrible conditions.  Comfort brings confidence and allows one to close the gap and go for it when you would be sheeting out and panicking on a racier board.

Given all of the above, a short list which could meet most requirements is as follows:

  • Rocket Limited 95
  • 3S Limited 96
  • 3S Limited 76
  • Fanatic Freewave 75
  • Naish Grand Prix 80 (for resolute blasters)
These are all quite floaty boards because I am writing this for my fellow blasters.  I find that a very small wave board may be great for a wave sailor but for us, the board can sink in the lulls if the wind is gusty turning your high wind sailing into a nightmare.  The Naish GP is billed as a slalom machine but it is great over chop and has 2 rows of footstrap screw holes so you can de-tune it for comfort over the really nasty stuff.

My personal choice for the smallest board remains the Rocket Limited 95 (this is also highly tuneable with footstrap positions, fin choices etc) but as I said to Gareth I would probably choose the beach when the really hard wind bites in.

That's all for now.  I will be recommending a sail quiver to complement the boards discussed - starting from the next post.

Good winds