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.