Friday, August 31, 2012

PWA Alacati


The Alacati event is well underway with the usual suspects at the front of the field.  The first three places in each of the winners finals so far are as follows:

Race 1                  Vd Steen

Race 2                  Albeau

Race 3                  Albeau
                             Vd Steen

Race 4                 Volwater
                            Vd Steen

Race 5                 Albeau
                            Vd Steen

Race 6                 Albeau

Points to note are Peter Volwater's great run in the 4th race and the fact that Ross Williams is making his presence felt.  Also, Taty Frans is causing some alarm.  Watch this guy if he decides to stay with slalom.   Bear in mind that the above heats are the culmination of all of the eliminating heats and just to get into them is the mark of a slalom master.
If you click on "Elimination 4 Mens Final" on the PWA TV section of the PWA site you can see the Volwater bullet on video.  Nice race and those of you keen on the Manta 71, watch Ross hold his own against the world's best (he is on the 71 and 7.9m Vapor.  Peter is on his Falcon 113 and Avanti 7.7m)  Ross comes in third after being pipped at the very end by Ben.

The standard of sailing at Alacati is off the chart.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

New 2013 Equipment

I'll use this post to provide information on a few boards and sails which may be of interest to us and also to share some of the feedback I've had from readers.

The new Mantas are in the final stages of being nailed down and here is the up to date picture as far as I can establish.  You will note that the 85 has been dropped.  I have had queries about which model is best - 84 or 85.  I think that the 2013 line-up indicates that the 84 is the shape they are pinning their hopes on so if you want my  advice between the two sizes -  I would go for the 84.  Also note that they are marking the 61, 71, and 84 as new shapes.  My feeling is that they have used the same geometry as the 71 for each of these new shapes so each of these 3 boards needs to be taken really seriously.

This is the new Thunder, a model they bill as an early planing freeride board in 110/70, 120/75, 130/80 litres/cm wide.  I'm not all that interested in these boards but if you have a partner who is learning, then one of these could be something to buy.  Way better than any training board since you can use it yourself in light wind/ocean swells.

The Rocket continues to evolve and improve.  What more can one say.  The interesting thing for us is the fact that the 105 is now 63 cm wide (as opposed to 62cm).  This effectively moves it apart a bit from the 95 which is still 58cm wide.  Nice!

Gaastra's new Vapor looks amazing once again.  Note that they have dropped the enclosed clew for a more normal inset position.  I think that this is a good thing.  I am not a great fan of either the enclosed clew or the huge overhanging batten above the boom.  This overhang doesn't look too obtrusive - we'll have to wait until we have one on the beach and I'll give my verdict.  They have dropped the enclosed clew for all of their performance sails (Vapor, Phantom and Savage) and we await their appearance here for testing and comparison.

Starboard has taken the concept of its 117wide iSonic and tweaked it, reducing the volume by 7 liters.  They now have an iSonic of 110 liters in volume but 75cm wide - so an extremely flat, light board.  Interesting and something I would really like to test.  I have a good feeling about this board for light to moderate winds where I'm betting it is a rocket ship.

Thank you to those of you who have given feedback on equipment bought.  I am surprised at how many of you have bought Manta 71's.  I'm not surprised to learn that you are enjoying them and setting personal best speeds for this size of board.  Great stuff.  What is coming through from the guys who have given feedback is that once you ride a 71, your intention to also buy a 79 Manta changes immediately and you start looking at an 84 or 85.  I have made my recommendation between these two boards in the text above.

Eric Kamminga reminded me of the floatability of the 71.  It's nose has that extra volume which gives so much confidence.  I don't think I commented on this specific attribute when I reviewed the board but as soon as I read his comment I knew exactly what he was talking about.  Eric was sailing with a power sailor who easily maintained a 79kph average on the 71 in (from what I gather) quite unremarkable winds.  Other comments regarding the 71 include the comfort afforded by the straps (how they are positioned and how they feel).  This is quite an important thing and one which we don't really pay enough attention to.  Remember comfort = speed!

Talk to you soon    

Friday, August 17, 2012

2 New Boards

Two new boards which may be of interest are the Gecko from Fanatic and Naish's new Bullet.

The Gecko is a freeride board which looks extremely easy to plane, sail and turn (look at the teaser video on the site).  Not the fastest thing on the water but a nice board to have on those days when you need to give the blasting a break and just have fun, polish the gybes or try new moves.  You may have a partner who is not keen to blast at full speed all the time and this looks like a great board for such a sailor.  The board comes in 3 widths (69, 77, 83).  They give no weights at this stage and I have to say that I expect these boards to be a bit heavy.  We shall see when all the specs are available.  Too much weight will be a pity because this type of board should be feather light.
I am attracted to the width, the flatness and the large range of foot strap positions.

Naish has resumed making proper light slalom boards for 2013.  Up to now they have had the Grand Prix - a nice board I am sure, but in a heavy construction.  The Bullet promises to be light, fast and comfortable over rough conditions.  Naish have kept away from the modern trend to wider, shorter boards and also, they do not increase board lengths in the smaller sizes, opting to increase length as the boards get bigger.  If it were some other company doing this I would be the first to criticize but these guys know what they are doing.  They test their stuff in their own sailing ground and the videos show that conditions there can get wild.  Robby is a grand master of course so I have to believe that the boards are something special.  Unfortunately they are off limits for us here but I would really love to test one.

The sizes are 95/60cm, 115/66cm, 130/78.  All in all quite long, narrow and fat compared to most of the other slalom boards out there today.

One thing I like about Naish slalom boards is the two rows of foot strap holes.  The site states that the boards come with Deboichet SL7 fins.  I had never heard of such a fin and Deboichet's site makes no mention of an SL7.

Well here it is.

Not a bad looking fin but in Deboichet's cheaper construction.  I hope the fins are man enough for the job.  Always remember, you can wreck the performance of a board by putting the wrong fin under it.

Talk to you soon

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Windsurfing Speed Record

Hi from a cold, black, wet and stormy Langebaan.  We have enjoyed some fantastic weather lately - clear sun filled days made all the better by the fact that the flowers are out but the last couple of days have been really bleak.  I suppose that this is a small price to pay for all the cloudless, windy days we get between October and March.

Joos told me about Jurjen van der Noord's new speed record adding that Jurjen had used a Severne NCX in his record breaking run.  Just a tip for those of you interested in speed sailing, you can very quickly get all the info you need regarding any of the top speed guys on  This site gives you each sailor's registered times and also his boards, sails and fins so you can verify details very quickly and easily.  Jurjen's quiver comprises four Reflex3s and one NCX (6.5m).   Severne's site provides details of the record breaking run accompanied by photo's of Jurjen with his NCX.  I noted from the speedsailing site that Jurjen's boards are all Starboards so I went to the Starboard site where I found a better interview about this particular session.  In this interview it is revealed that the sail used to break the record was in fact Jurjen's Reflex3, 5.6m (on an iSonic speed W44).

Note the distortion on the sail - massive pressures in 50k of wind!

So no record for the camless brigade but it is still significant that one of the top guys includes a camless sail in his quiver.  If this NCX 6.5m is fast enough for Jurjen, believe me it is more than fast enough for you.

As I mentioned briefly in the last post, Gaastra's 2013 wave sails are out as is their new Cross.  A striking sail and I note that they are now recommending their Gold rdm mast for it.  Up to now they have always specified their Silver mast.  The Gold rdm is absolutely the right mast for these sails.  Nice job Gaastra and Peter.
  2013 Gaastra Cross
Look at the colors on this Cross.  Stunning!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The 7.8m Decision

In the last post I mentioned that Jeremy was deciding what to replace his 7.5m Gaastra GTX with.  Jeremy is a good sailor who enjoys going fast but is not interested in "balls-to-the-wall" dicing.  He wants his equipment to deliver fun rather than terror.  I on the other hand feel that a bit of terror now and again teaches you to handle overpowered conditions and makes you a better sailor.  Two of our power sailors, Andy and Harry, live in what for me, is the terror zone.  They have developed the skill and power to be able to handle these conditions which is why they are almost impossible to keep up with.

The above comments demonstrate some typical differences between a sample of windsurfers and these differences need to be considered when deciding upon a sail.  Before you run out and buy something, you need to decide exactly what you expect from the equipment.  If you expect ease of use and the ability to cruise in flat 7.5m conditions you will need one type of sail.  If you want to tear the water up with your 7.5 in overpowered conditions you are going to need something different.  Thankfully most of the good sail brands supply sails to meet all of our respective requirements.  My approach is to define 4 categories:

  • Cammed performance
  • Cammed soft
  • Camless performance
  • Camless soft  

You will first decide whether you want a cammed or a camless sail.  Then decide whether you want something comfortable and fun or whether you need something a bit harder which will get you away from the start a bit quicker and allow you to plane quicker out of the gybes.  Remember, the harder the sail, the harder it is going to work your body.  A harder sail is harder to sail.

The type of sail you will need if you are keen to maximize speed is the Gaastra Phantom 7.8m, the North Ram 7.8m and Severne's Overdrive 7.5m.  These are all great sails and if rigged properly and married with the right board/fin combo, will enable you to frighten sailors on pure race sails.  They will all allow you to sail well into heavy wind and remain in control.  They are all a little too heavy for my liking but if you are strong and athletic then this will not be an issue for you.  

If you are set on cams but need a softer experience, you should be considering Severne's 7.5m Turbo, North's 7.8m SType and Ezzy's Lion 7.5m.  These are all much softer but are still fast, light and a joy to use.

The camless performance sails to consider will include Gaastra's Savage 7.8, Severne's NCX 7.5, Pryde's Hellcat 7.7, and the Sailworks Retro 7.5.  These can all smoke when rigged properly and will keep up with the hardest of race sails on most sailing angles.

Camless soft sails to consider will be Gaastra's Matrix 7.5, Severne's Gator 7.5, North's XType 7.8, Ezzy's Cheetah 7.5 and the Loft Oxygen 7.4m.  All of these sails will be really nice to use and you will find that when you push them into strong winds, you will almost certainly go faster than you ever thought possible on a big sail.  They are also light, easy to rig, not particularly mast specific and as an extra bonus, are easy to store in a rigged but de-tensioned state.  Most of these sails will switch easily from a slalom to a freeride board (from your 71 Manta to your 115 Rocket Limited for instance).

Jeremy chose the Matrix 7.5m - a perfect solution for his particular requirements.

In closing, I note that Gaastra has put its 2013 wave sails on its website.  Nice looking sails, great graphics!

Talk to you soon        


Sunday, August 5, 2012

PWA Notes and Some New Equipment Thoughts


I have been back for a while but needed a break from the blog.  Anyway, I am back now and we have things to consider.  The PWA Sotavento event was held last month and Finian won the slalom racing.  This is good news given his recent spate of bad luck with injuries and equipment breakages.  He says that the design of the Avanti sails helped him in the rough, gusty conditions, allowing him to maintain control.  He adds that the softness of the new sails gave him an advantage.  That is what I keep hammering on about - even superstars need comfort to maximize performance!

The top 6 guys were Finian, Ben, Antoine, Bjorn, Cyril and Julien Quentel.  These guys were all on either RRD X-Fires or Starboard iSonics.  Food for thought.  Ben vd Steen is, as I have said before a force to be reckoned with and on his new equipment combo of Loft and Starboard, is becoming "quite a handful" (to use Johnny's understated turn of phrase).  Cyril is definitely getting to grips with the Reflex3's.  He has been near the top in the last two meetings.  Interesting times.

Here is Ben kicking ass.  Note the Loft sail's dual shaping in action.  The bottom section delivers power while the top section spills wind.  The sections are divided by that black tendon and the use of different materials - nice!

On the new equipment front, some of the brands have their 2013 wave and freeride sails out.  Severne, North and Maui Sails are all showing new lines and there are some nice things.  Severne's Blade looks really cool and is going to perform I'm sure.  North's ID is lighter than equivalent sails from Severne and from Maui Sails (Blade and Ghost xt).  I usually berate North for the heaviness of their sails but not in this case.  Well done guys.

RRD have a new mast which they bill as the lightest rdm on the market.  This has been out for a while but is worth a mention.  They don't give weights on the site unfortunately.

It is called the CDM C100 and they claim a new manufacturing technique incorporating "nano carbon fibres".  I'm sure that this is not quite as exciting as it sounds but one thing I have learned about RRD is that they generally do things better than other companies so if you are looking for something special in an rdm mast, give this one some thought.

Our sailing season here is rapidly approaching and most of us are looking at our sail and board quivers and deciding what to replace.  As I have mentioned, I am replacing my beloved North Ram 7.8m with a camless sail.  I am almost decided that this will be a Gaastra Savage and will probably go this way if I can get a good price.  Jeremy, one of my sailing partners has been agonizing over a replacement for his Gaastra GTX 7.5 and is also leaning towards something camless.  In the next post I will let you know what he decided upon and list some of the other options you could consider if you are in a similar position.

Talk to you soon