Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Some Notes About Safety

As mentioned previously, here are some pointers for safety on the water following Andy's bad experience a while ago.

Our sailing area is quite vast but most of us stick to an across-the-wind tack from the beach to a gybe area close to a headland about 2km away and back.  To the right of this zone is a huge expanse of water which we pay little attention to during normal sailing. In the distance is a steel terminal, a harbour and a huge sweeping coastline unfamiliar to most of us.  The Atlantic ocean enters our vast lagoon via this massive area.

Andy sailed to the normal gybe area on the far side and as he turned, his mast foot broke.  He was sailing close to Grant who may or may not have noticed him go down but who simply continued to sail back and forth.  An hour or so later the people on the beach and at the windsurfing centre started to notice that Andy was not around. The wind was almost gale force at this stage, with the sun dropping towards the horizon. To cut a long story short Andy was eventually rescued by the National Sea Rescue Institute quite close to the above-mentioned sweeping coastline.  He had spent several hours in the water.

We can all learn something from this event.  Firstly the things Andy should have done but did not do:

  • When he went down with broken UJ, he did not shout loudly to Grant to draw attention to his situation.  I believe that we should each carry a whistle.  This is such a small, easy thing and a whistle can be heard from a long way off.  It does not get hoarse either. 
  • Andy had recently modified his mast foot and assumed that it was strong.  He should have done a few short runs checking it after each run.  He did not do this and consequently did not notice that it was failing.
  • Apart from a short piece of rope, Andy had no safety equipment on him that day (cell phone in a pouch, flare, spare UJ etc)
  • His sail, helmet and wetsuit are all the usual drab colours - not easily seen against the backdrop of a wild ocean.  We should try for brighter colours.  Black, white, brown and silver are all invisible in a distant seascape.
  • Andy says that he should have been carrying a torch.  This would have been a huge asset if the search had gone into the night.  Torchlight is easily picked up by rescuers in the dark     

Here are the things that Andy did correctly:

  • When his UJ broke, separating his rig from the board, he swam furiously for the board and then back for the rig.  This is paramount since your equipment offers a means of flotation.  It allows you something to sit on, providing height and visibility.
  • Andy used his rope to tie rig to board.  He sat on the board facing the back, into the wind and positioned the rig over the footstraps (balanced with equal sail area to left and right I understand). This provided stability and also allowed him to steer a bit.  Remember, the wind was howling and the tide was running in the same direction so he was moving quickly.
  • Andy did not panic.  He assessed his situation, kept a constant check on his position using landmarks and developed a plan of action.
  • He did not fight against the tide, opting rather to save his energy for when he needed to swim for land.
  • His helmet, and the fact that he was sitting on the board, kept him relatively warm (not toasty but surviving at least)  

 There you have it.  Some lessons learned and a wake-up call for those of us who sail in wild conditions.  I generally sail with Gareth and we keep an eye on each other but once in a while we will do our own thing and go off alone.  Not good in wild conditions!

Talk to you soon  

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

New Equipment - 2


In no particular order, here are some interesting new bits of equipment.

Simmer's new SCR race sail has broken cover.  Never underestimate Simmer stuff - it is unique and excellent:

The new SCR in trademark green

Severne has had the new Reflex up for a while.  Once again an awesome looking machine and incorporating some fairly substantial upgrades this year (9 battens for instance)

The new Reflex

Gaastra has the new Vapor up.  This has to be one of the most striking race sails around right now.
2014 Vapor

The Tabou Mantas are now on the site.  From what I gather, no substantial shape changes accompany the new yellow livery, but knowing Fabien's work, each change no matter how small, will result in performance improvements.
The 71/116 looks much the same but has had volume taken from the nose and added under the feet to give better float, faster starts and nippier gybe exits. Nice!

2014 Manta 66/106

Speaking of Tabou boards, local Andy took a Thunder 130l for a spin a while ago.  My feeling about this board was always that it is a bit too "intermediate" for us.  I didn't like the short length and I was not too keen on the power box fin.  I have had to re-think my position however, because Andy blitzed on this board. He popped onto the plane easily and was able to give Harry (on his Manta) a run.  Bear in mind that this was a rental board which had the issue G10 fin under it.  I am wondering what this shape could do in the light construction with a carbon fin.  
Light Thunder (yellow paint)

If the Thunder type board is going to be accepted as a high performance alternative to pure slalom shapes, my preference would be for Tuttle fin boxes.  I wouldn't want to be powering along on the 130l model with a 46cm fin being held by a power box.

Fabien - here is another suggestion which I am sure, like my other suggestions,  you will also ignore:
Please put Tuttle boxes in light versions of the Thunder.

Lorch has brought out two boards of this type.  They name them "Mirage" and both sizes have Tuttle boxes.  Nice work guys - if we are going to get serious about this concept, we need serious fittings.

Lorch Mirage

Select has introduced the new VMax slalom fin as discussed in an earlier post.  Andy has ridden one and says that his downwind speed was astounding - lightning fast and supremely comfortable.  Locals who have ridden these fins think that they may not be quite as good upwind as the VMax 1 but Select tell us that this is simply not true.  I will get a ride on one and give you my own feedback.

Two other new fins from Select which could be of interest to us are the Power Edge and the FX Free Carve. Have a look at them on the site if you have not already done so.

That is all for now.

All the best to you and yours for the festive season.  Have a blast and be safe.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

New Equipment - 1

A lot of new stuff is breaking cover in our industry and I will mention a few pieces in the next post but here is some feedback from our lagoon:

Every one who has bought a 2013 116/71 Manta is absolutely stoked.  Local Andy was the first I think and he has been smoking but Inland Andy (visiting speed demon) is proving almost impossible to catch on his just-out-of-the-box 116.  Karel (another hot visiting sailor) was unsuccessful in getting the 116 he ordered but borrowed local Andy's and after one of the most epic sessions ever, I think he is considering stealing the board!  Very nice Tabou - please don't change this too much - it is pretty near perfect.

Joos and local Andy have both purchased 2014 Rocket 115's.  I have ridden Joos's board and it is simply fantastic.  I thought that last year's Rocket would be difficult to improve on but this board does it.  It has to be one of the top blasting boards in existence right now.  Add decent fin, sail and mast and you will fall in love.  Look out for the Tabous with the yellow paint.

Ellie purchased a 2014 (yellow paint) Tabou 3S 116 Ltd for us and we have been having a ball.  What a fantastic thing it is. Like the 3S 96, it dances over the chop imparting huge confidence.  This makes it possible to keep pushing the speed in wild conditions.  In completely overpowered conditions I screw a Select Eagle 31 fin in and use a fully downhauled Gaastra Remedy 6.0m.  This combination allows me to blast in ridiculously overpowered conditions and to hang with all comers.  I' m not saying that I beat the power sailors but I'm not far behind.  Awesome!
The two negative points of the board for me involve weight and strap position options.  Even the Ltd model is too heavy for me.  Having said this, it is so stiff and crisp that you don't feel the weight on the water.  The other minus is the fact that even the outside strap position is too far inboard for real high speed blasting with a slalom fin.  Tabou will tell me that for blasting, I should simply buy a Rocket.  Good point and I get it but what if I am someone who sails predominately in swells, jumps and likes doing the odd trick but once in a while, when conditions warrant it, wants to plug his fast 7.0 blasting sail in and blow others off the water?  I promise that the 3S can do this with a vengeance but not with the straps in the middle of the deck.  Please Fabien - just a few additional fin bolt holes (please!)

Dan Aeberli is here working on the 2015 Fanatic Hawk and Falcon designs.  A few of us got to sail some of these boards yesterday and all I can say is watch out for them next year- seriously!  Joos rode a Hawk proto and was blown away by how the board seems to shrink once you get going.  Huge speeds and fantastic control.
I rode a Falcon 102 proto.  The board feels tiny but gets up and going so easily.  Just move your weight back a bit and you are planing.  Johnny (local racer with Fanatic connections) let me ride the 102 with his 2014 North Warp 7.0.  A great sail of course but unfortunately the wind was a bit light for me on the combination so I had less planing than I would have liked.  The problem was compounded because I recently put my back out and my spine is shaped like a coat-hanger. When I got going, the experience was mind blowing and worth the pain.  I would really like to have a go on this board with my Cross 6.4 in strong wind - light, direct and pretty close to sailing nirvana I would think.  Dan seems capable of incorporating some form of witchcraft into his designs.  Very, very impressive.

Andy broke some equipment a while ago and was swept away.  The guys noticed his disappearance to late and he spent hours in the sea before being rescued.  I need to give you a list of what he did right and what he did wrong so that we can all learn but this post will only be after the next new equipment post.

Talk to you soon          

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Hand Protection

Our sailing season is well under way here with hosts of visiting sailors passing through the centre.  We get to know these visitors of course since we share the amenities and the water.  What I notice is that some sailors rip their hands to pieces in the first few days.  Blisters form, burst and become raw wounds.  The sailor finds himself with ten days of fantastic wind before him but with hands so painful that touching anything is torture.

If you are lucky enough to be able to get away for a windsurfing holiday, please protect your hands if they are not hard (ours are like old boots!).  You will have spent a lot of money getting to the holiday spot and you need to make the very most of every bit of sailing time.

Co-incidentally, I recently received some gloves for review from Becky, a lady from a company called MacWet in the UK.  I tried them on the water and they are excellent.  The palms feel like very thin moleskin and grip the boom nicely (wet or dry).  Water drains out of them immediately, they are light and hold their shape perfectly.  The model I tried (Climatec short-cuff) would be suitable for any water sport - a high tech product which will save your palms and keep the sun off your hands.  Quality kit worthy of our consideration:

Talk to you soon

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The 7m Sail Choice - Some Thoughts

Most windsurfers have a pretty good idea about what it is they want to do in, and what they expect from the sport.  Their equipment choices will reflect these expectations and aspirations.  If you are a general blaster you may have one or two big slalom boards and sails for lighter winds, and freeride kit covering the smaller sizes.  If you are purely a racer, then you typically own only pure slalom or formula stuff.  Wave and freestyle guys have their own specialist equipment.

In this post I want to make to make the case for a specific sail in the 7.0m size.  A few manufacturers are producing high spec freerace models with only 6 battens.  These are interesting sails because they are generally based on the top of the range race models.  What you get is a sail with the architecture of a pure race sail but with a far simpler, lighter structure and no camber inducers.  In short, a light, fun sail which can be used by any windsurfer, regardless of discipline, who owns a slalom or fast freeride board.


This is the Scream from Maui Sails.

Vandal's Stitch

Gaastra's Matrix
Each of these sails has an up-to-the-minute shape, each is light, simple and easy to rig and each is really easy to sail fast.  If you are a decent sailor on one of these sails and your mate is slightly less of a sailor but has purchased a pure race sail because Antoine Albeau uses one, I promise you will smoke your mate assuming similar boards, fins, weights etc.  These sails make speed so easy and so much fun.

It must be said that you are not going to win races against hot sailors on race kit, but if you want to put a big smile on your face - this is the machine.  I choose the 7m size because this is the size beyond which you need to consider incorporating cams.  A 7m sail has some quite serious grunt but somehow lacks that heavy, big feeling you get with anything larger.  These particular models in 7m can be sailed happily on slalom boards with widths covering 80cm all the way down to 62cm.  They are also really happy on fast freeride boards of 65cm (eg Rocket or Futura).  Every one of these boards will shine under any of the above sails in 7m.

Having said all of this I must say that this particular sail type only makes sense for me in the 7m size.  I advise B&J type sails for sizes between 7m and 5.5m (Cross, Hucker, Gator etc) and pure wave sails for 5.0 and smaller (I have to be able to sheet out to slow down and sheet in to accelerate in wild conditions and wave sails do this properly).

Please give the 6 batten speed machine some consideration when you next look at replacing your 7m sail.  If you are a wave guy or a freestyler with an old slalom board, think about one of these for those light wind days.    

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Some New Kit

Gaastra has uploaded details of the 2014 Matrix, Cosmic, Savage, and Phantom.  Nice line-up!

Avanti have also posted some new sails.  Notably the new Machine-2 race sail.  This model sees some interesting developments including a new "modal trim system" which supplies three boom outhaul grommets which are in a horizontal line rather than the traditional over/under arrangement.  Other nice touches include no sock centre seam, horizontal load bands and new lighter plastics throughout.  More evidence of Dan's extraordinary understanding of  things sailish.

All this results in a race sail which looks like something I would like to try (breaking my no-race-sail-ever again vow).  Although I do recall saying that I would like to give the Maui Sails TRX a spin.  OK so excluding these two models, I will never ride another race sail!

Here are some pics of the new Machine-2:
This shows the three grommets and also a new simple way of connecting the edges of the outside boom cut-out.  The guys recon that the inside grommet yields a soft sail while the outside one gives power.  What concerns me slightly is how the adjustable outhaul system is going to operate within this structure (if my outhaul is tied through the centre grommet, how do I let line off without the boom end snagging the nifty holding thread?).

Look at this beautiful shape under tension.  Very, very nice!

 This slightly blurry shot shows the grommets all in a row on the sail.

The Machine-2 is one light sail.  The 7.7m weighs 5.1kg.  Compare this to 6.1kg for a 2013 Gaastra Phantom 7.8m.

Nice work Avanti - please send a 7.7m Mach-2 for review.

Other news is that Point-7 and Challenger Sails are terminating their technology/design partnership.  I'm not sure who is going to fill the sail design gap at Point-7 but will keep you posted if I hear anything.  Challenger say that they want to spend their energies on groundbreaking developments such as the new soft sails.  We wait with interest.

Finally there is a new race sail from France - the Teiva race sail.  Look it up.  It seems like early days but some of the clips on YouTube show some impressive speeds with recent proto's.  The guy (despite looking like a 16 year old) seems to really know what he is doing.  I have a good feeling about this.

Talk to you soon


Monday, November 25, 2013

Plastic vs G10 Wave/Freestyle Fins


Jake Patrick of K4 Fins contacted me and asked me to post an article on the new plastic windsurfing fins which K4 have developed.   Of course I agreed and his article follows this comment.  Unfortunately for most of us, the new material is not suitable for slalom fins but who knows what the future may hold.  If you sail in waves or are into freestyle then you need to read this.

Anyway, here is Jake's article.  He includes two links which you can use if you are interested to learn more.

K4 Fins, the pro's and con's of plastic fins.

K4 Fins are the birth child of Steve Thorpe and Murray Saunders. Steve is a UK windsurfing legend. Currently he is the only man to have windsurfed the Cribbar, a famous big wave spot for surfers in the UK. Steve works for a plastic injection moulding company in the midlands and constantly travels to whatever coast line gets the best forecast. Tired of the fins on offer Steve started making windsurfing fins in his spare time in the warehouse.

On a trip to the west coast of Ireland with Murray Saunders, a BWA sailor and Industry Salesman, Steve used the fins to amazing effect. Once Murray had tried them the pair joined forces to offer K4 Fins to the windsurfing market. Now K4 Fins have an international distribution network with K4 sailors ripping waves in every corner of the globe.

K4 Fins founder Steve Thorpe.

K4 fins use a unique moulded resin, long fibre matrix, which they call 'Optoflex'. This plastic injection material has been optimised to provide the ideal flex patterns for wave riding and freestyle. Optoflex was in development for 2 years and offers a unique combination of strength, durability, flex and performance.

Compared to the industry standard G10 construction, K4 Fins offer a fin that flexes and works with you. This flex in the fins is what gives more grip, drive and then release when wave riding. The increased flex allows the rider to drive harder through the bottom turn. Then, as the rider comes out of the turn and approaches the lip, the fins give back some of the stored energy allowing for a much harder and more radical top turn.

This is obviously good news for advanced wave riders, but they also work well, if not better, for more everyday wave riders. By 'storing' energy in the bottom turn and releasing it into the top turn, K4 Fins help average riders to complete fluid turns that they perhaps weren't capable of with G10's. A Lyme Regis windsurfer, Malcolm Jones says "I can wave ride so much better with the K4's on my board. I haven't got the most precise technique, but with the extra grip and drive through my bottom turn, I come into my top turn with more speed than I could ever have managed through technique alone!"

K4 Fins flex compared to standard G10.

The fins are also pretty handy at getting your board up and planing. In fact when compared to the stiffer G10’s some riders think that K4 are earlier planing. Rich Potter (UK Wave Champion) remarked that when jumping the fins allow him to spring off the wave better, and then landing they work with him, gripping the water and straightening him up. 

The benefits of the Optoflex material on a practical level are evident too. The plastic injection fins are much lighter than any G10 alternative and the material is more forgiving to mistakes. Bumps or scrapes with rocks and reefs are easy to sand and smooth out. They also don’t split if rammed into underwater obstacles so you can sail in the confidence that one bad strike isn’t going to render them useless.

Due to demand K4 have expanded their range in the last couple of years. They now offer a variety of models in a wide range of different sizes. The new shapes include a more upright, stiffer 'stubby’ fin, and an exciting ‘Ezzy’ Asymmetric fin side fin.

K4 Team rider Graham Ezzy on his signature side fin

Perhaps the only drawback with K4 Fins is that currently their range is limited to multi fin wave boards and freestyle boards. The biggest fin in the range is 20cm, but there are rumours that work is being done to find a new material for single fin wave boards and free-ride boards. The current Optoflex plastic is too flexible for the longer fins.

One thing for sure is that K4 Fins offer a unique and alternative performance aspect compared to conventional G10 fins. Those looking to improve on basic techniques can benefit from the added grip and release the fins offer. When you consider the savings made in both cost and weight, it certainly seems irrational not to at least try the fins.

It will be interesting to see how K4 Fins continue to develop and whether their entrance into the free ride and single fin market is as successful as their triumph with multi fin wave and freestyle windsurfing fins. Find a setup that suits your style and see if K4 Fins are the ingredient you have been missing to improve your windsurfing.

Many thanks,

Jake Patrick


Friday, November 15, 2013

Some Thoughts About Booms

A few days ago Grant, a local sailor broke his Aeron VGrip boom a few hundred meters from the beach. He was on his way in. This incident raises two important issues:

  1. Grant was on his Severne Reflex 7.0, a sail which he has tuned to  perfection over the months and on which he smokes.  The problem with high performance sailing is that it generates huge forces on mast, boom and fin.  Each of these elements needs to be strong enough for this class of sailing.  In my opinion, no aluminium boom is man enough to withstand racing levels of stress.  The VGrip is a fantastic aluminium boom but should be confined to easier sailing.
  2. Grant was able to unclip the broken boom, swim it off the top of the sail, rotate it, swim it back down, re-attach it and limp back with a one sided boom.  It is crucial to be able to do this self rescue procedure if you sail long distances.  You ensure that it is possible by attaching the uphaul rope to the mast - not the boom.  The rope goes from the mast above the boom, inside the boom to be secured at the bottom of the sail.  When you do this you are able to get the boom off in the water as described above.  If you attach the rope to the boom you cannot do the self rescue Grant was able to do. Please give this some thought if you still secure your uphaul rope to your boom head.

Andy purchased an Aeron Carbon race boom some time ago and he recons that it has transformed his sailing.  It is a narrow grip boom which allows one to avoid hand/arm exhaustion when sailing for extended periods.  It's stiffness resists flexing which allows the sail to perform optimally, keeping you fast on all points of sail.  The narrow grip feels so much crisper than with thicker boom arms, that Andy has taken to avoiding his 6.5m sail which still has an old (thick) boom on it.  This is all real world feedback from a real world kick-ass sailor.  We all need to pay more respect to our booms.  We tend to give the limelight to sail and board but the backbone components of the rig (mast, fin and boom) we think we can skimp on.  Not true!  If you want to take your sailing and your enjoyment of the sport to new heights, please don't skimp on these components.

Speaking of Aeron, I note that they have introduced a great looking boom called the Aeron Carbon Slim 2014.  Very, very nice.

I include a few pictures which I'm sure indicate the quality of this thing.  The boom sizes cover all sail ranges, the tail changing from wave to race as boom length increases.  The grip width is 26mm.  Fantastic!  One always has the impression with the newer Aeron booms, that an actual windsurfer is deciding on the dimensions, where all the elements go and how they operate.  Everything is exactly where you want it and every element works perfectly.
Talk to you soon.    

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

VMax 2, Reader Feedback and Some Sail Thoughts


You will recall that we recently collected our new VMax fins and I wrote about my first experience with the 39cm one on my Falcon.  You may also recall that our fins are the old model and that Select has now introduced the VMax 2.  

Stephane Mocher from Select informs us that the flex diagram for the new model is completely different from that of the VMax 1.  Only the tip of this fin flexes which he claims, enables it to generate large amounts of lift. He adds that both speed and control have been improved making the latest model better in every way.  Well done guys.  Maintain a continuous improvement in these blades and you are likely to reach my (invented) A grade rating.

Back to the old VMax fin - I wrote that I seemed to be spinning out on this fin more than I would have expected.  Well, following that post, Caspar Verhaagen e-mailed me and mentioned the need to wash one's new fins properly to remove any release agent which may be on the fin surface.  Fins are shaped in a mould and so release agents are an integral part of the production process.  Anything oily or slippery on the surface of a fin will impede it's performance by causing a loss of grip.  This all makes perfect sense to me.  The most puzzling thing to me is why I have not thought of this before.  I know all about release agents, I know that they are used on moulded products and I also know that a slippery surface is the enemy of the windsurfing fin - Why could I not make the connection?  Anyway that is the value of communicating with a wide range of sailors from all over the planet - you will get a wise head from time to time guiding you back to the path and that is what Caspar has done for us in this matter.  Thanks Caspar!
Please wash your new fins guys, before you take them anywhere near the water.  I suppose that any detergent will do but I would recommend a trusted general purpose cleaner with a strong de-greasing component.  A good sponge and some clean, warm water and you are in business.  From now on I wash my fins!

Lars from Norway has been changing and refining his equipment for some time.  We explored some slalom board options and Lars settled on a Starboard iSonic 110 and an iSonic 127.  Two awesome boards for his conditions, which comprise mostly light to medium winds.  Lars completed this ideal board line-up with two stunning Boss fins. Nice!  He had been struggling with Gaastra Vapor sails which he found hard and difficult to rotate.  My strong recommendation would have been to change to the new Phantoms but Lars bought a quiver of second hand TR Race sails (Maui Sails) with correct 100% carbon masts.  My problem with any pure race sail, as you know, is that they are just too hard and punishing for the normal sailor.  My problem with the TR has always been that it is heavy and has 9 battens.  My further problem with Maui sails is that their masts are so unlike any other masts that they can only be used on their sails. If you are left with Maui masts, you are forced to replace your sails with other Maui sails.  Brands like North, Avanti, Ezzy, Gun, Hot Sails Maui, Simmer etc all have similar masts so you are not restricted to one brand when the time comes to replace sails.

Despite my negative thoughts, Lars tells me that he absolutely stoked with his new sails.  They are soft, easy and light in the hand. They accelerate rapidly to a fast top speed and rotate like a dream.  He is replacing one of his existing sizes with the new 2014 TRX and would consider nothing else.  I realized from his findings, that I may need to re-visit  my opinion of the TR.  Given his comments I am now quite keen to give the new TR a try.

 Here is the 2014 TR-X and I have to say that I am a fan of this sail structure.  You have the sleeve, a triangular power section in a non-stretch material and then a soft, light outer section to spill the wind.  Remember that Hansen sail I featured a few months ago - same concept.  Food for thought

Talk to you soon          

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Good Bye Tony D


We lost a dear friend and avid windsurfer on our beach yesterday.  Tony went out on his 6m sail in strong wind, had one or two runs, came in and was carrying his rig onto the beach when he collapsed.  Bret spotted the problem, rushed to him and commenced cpr.  It was to no avail and Tony passed away.  Very very sad.
Condolences to Meryl and the family.

Good bye old friend - thanks for the times.

The next post will be more cheerful - some interesting feedback on VMax fins (and fins in general) and some thoughts about Maui Sails.

Good winds

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Fin Feedback

I have had the opportunity to sail my new VMax 39cm fin quite extensively and I am ready to give my verdict on this fin.

The fin is a thoroughly competent performer.  It hauls up-wind, blasts across the wind and really moves downwind.  It is not without its faults though.  I spin out every few runs in situations where I should not really be spinning out.  Under extreme pressure I feel the fin scudding sideways on occasion.  All in all I give the VMax a rating (according to my off-the-cuff grading system which I have just created), of B+.  It may not be good enough to take into the PWA fire zone but it is certainly good enough to be a training fin for sailors at the highest level.  It is certainly good enough for me and I suspect for 90% of readers.  

Is the VMax worth buying?  Definitely.  I think that it is better than the Select S11, S12 and I presume, the S1 as well.  Apart from the performance aspect, I also have more confidence in the build of this fin when compared to the S series.  I know that I am not alone in finding splits in my old Select S series fins and I have confidence that the VMax will posess decent durability.

As I mentioned, my fin is a 39cm length and is perfect under my Falcon 113 with sails of 6.4m and 7.0m.  I suspect that I may be better served for the bigger sails, with a 41cm fin.  The really fast guys here tell me that the 39cm length is correct - regardless of sail size and the stronger the wind the better.  Maybe I just sail in lighter winds than they do.  I will try to get a ride on a 41cm VMax with my 7.8m, and will give you feedback when I do.

I am also in a position to give feedback on the Gregor fin (39cm) I have been trying.  Surprisingly this fin is very comparable to the VMax.  I also spun out on the Gregor but perhaps not as often as with the VMax.  Like the VMax, the fin is fast and it blasts comfortably upwind and downwind.  Like the VMax, a solid B+.  I am now ready to return the Gregor to Juan Alonso and I have to say, I am going to miss it.  A nice piece of equipment.

When I compare the Vector Canefire Carbon (40cm) to the above fins, I am confident that the Canefire outperforms both of these fins on all points of sail.  The Canefire does everything asked of it with ease and class and allows the rider to be his fastest in comfort.  On my rating system, this fin gets a solid A.  I would rate the Canefire as being equal to an equivalent Deboichet, Hurricane, Gasoil (and maybe an F4 - I will give an update on these fins in a moment).  The A grade fins (in my scheme of things) are good enough to win at the highest level at a purchase price which will not break the bank of the average sailor.        

I suppose that to get an A+ grading, we would need to go to Kashy, maybe Ifju and one or two of the really exotic fin makers.  Regarding F4, I tried to e-mail the guys but they have simply not replied to me.  You may recall that at the end of our last season I was in contact with the guys and they seemed keen to send some fins for us to try.  It seems as if this is not going to happen and I am deeply disappointed.  They have extended their fin range and it looks awesome.  If any of you get to ride an F4 fin, please give me some feedback and I will post your remarks.

We have had a couple of quiet days so a chance for the body to recover.

Good winds  

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Some Thoughts about GPS Units and the Future


GPS units, as we all know, allow us to record windsurfing run times, distances, speeds etc and allow us to download and analyse the resulting stats.  If you are serious about constant improvement in your windsurfing speed, you need to use a GPS unit.  If we do not measure we cannot maximise our rate of improvement.

Most of us would agree with all this but few of us take the trouble to use a GPS unit every time we go out for speed.  Among the members of this blog, Alastair Nichol, Eric Kaminga and Kevin Do are probably the only guys who use the GPS unit properly as an improvement tool.  The rest of us (certainly most of the rest of us) simply don't take the trouble.  I own two GPS units and I have to say I never have the urge to fiddle with set-up, strap the unit on and download after each session .  I am simply too slack to use the unit and my development in the sport suffers.

One thing which would really tempt me to use a GPS unit would be if it could somehow give me a real time, continuous reading of speed during each run and I could view this while blasting.  This would allow me to see the results of changes to stance, trim and attitude in real time on the water - a completely different thing to viewing retrospective stats.

I was reading about Google's new Glass system.

I am not a huge fan of up to the minute communication devices as a rule, but this could be something special for us.  I am sure that this technology will allow one, with connected GPS, to beam real time windsurfing speeds continuously and directly into one's eyeball.  Awesome!  I don't use my current GPS units but I would certainly use this - no question!

I will comment further in the next post about my 39 VMax fin and how it compares to the corresponding Gregor fin which Juan Alonso sent to me last season.  I will also comment on how each of these fins stacks up against Vector's Canefire carbon.  Interesting.

Good winds (we were blown out today so I used the time to recuperate)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

New Windsurfing Center in Morocco


Jennifer Tulip sent me this report and asked me to post it on the blog. 

Here is her article:  

Windsurfing is Really Taking Off in Morocco.

If you’ve ever thought about doing something fun and different, there’s no better time than now to do it!

Explora Morocco have just opened their brand new surf centre in Dakhlah where you can enjoy surfing, windsurfing or even learn to kitesurf!

Dakhla is located on a peninsula on the Moroccan coast of North West Africa. This prime location is where the Atlantic chill merges with the warm desert heat, resulting in conditions that are particularly perfect for windsurfing. Owing to this, the local surf community is abuzz with professionals and amateurs alike flocking here all year round to take to the waves with the wind in their sails.

Power of the Wind
Explora Morocco run a popular surf school in Essaouira, Morocco and have just opened their new centre in Dakhla. Their skilled and fully qualified instructors can teach you the ropes of all these water sports and offer a range of tuition options for you to really get to grips with the surf.

They also offer an equipment hire service for those already skilled in windsurfing who are travelling without their kit.

Visit the Explora Morocco website now to discover everything you need to know about windsurfing in Morocco and book your lessons and accommodation.

That is Jenni's article.  

I did some research on the Dakhla center and was quite impressed by what they offer - it looks like an excellent place to consider for a windsurfing holiday.  

The center offers 2014 Fanatic and North equipment.  The winds are constant and steady, blowing from April to October and peaking in July and August.  Sailing terrain comprises a huge, shallow lagoon with clean water and firm sandy bottom.  They have three zones – a speed strip, the general sailing area and a wave spot at the entrance where lagoon meets ocean.

The accommodation seems good and is right on the beach.  Equipment rental rates are on a par with anywhere else.

This is perfect spot to concentrate on a particular move (gybing for instance) and come away with solid proficiency.  Hire for a week or two, take out a Gecko in lighter winds and a Freewave when the wind picks up.  When you are not nailing your gybes have a go on the speed strip.  This is just a stretch of water with a really low sand bank to the windward.  The water is absolutely flat allowing you to rack up some proper speed runs.  All of these things are on offer at a venue which is not overcrowded with kitesurfers and other windsurfers.  My idea of a proper holiday!  Click on the link above for more information.

Talk to you soon  

Monday, October 14, 2013

Fanatic and North News

Here are some views of the fin box surround profiles on the new Falcon models.  Like Starboard and RRD, Fanatic have gone for complex cut-outs.  There is obviously merit in this otherwise the top guys would not be doing it.  Some serious design development is evident.  I hope to get a ride when Craig is here to assess the effect for myself and report back.  He usually brings a 110 but I am hoping to see a 120 on the lawn.  One can only hope.

Falcon 140
Falcon 130

Falcon 120 /74 - my favorite width




Just a short note about the new North lineup.  They have posted their new E-Type camless performance sail (replacing the X-Type).  I think that this is going to be something special.  They say that they discovered things in the development of this sail, so profound that they incorporated them into their new race sail.  Usually the process trickles down from the race model to other models but this went the other way.  Something kick-ass this way comes! (sorry Shakespeare).

One thing that is bothering me about North however, is the fact that they seem to have dropped their ultra light Platinum Aero mast in SDM.  They still offer the RDM sizes but no SDM.  I wrote to them asking about it but they ignore me.  On this topic, I note that Avanti also seem to have dropped their ultra light Tow Pro race mast.  I also wrote to them and they also ignored me.  Windsurfing suppliers are not good at responding to simple, relevant questions about their products - not acceptable!

Talk to you soon

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

New Season Starts and Some PWA News

Hi All

We have had two days in a row with sailable wind and I sailed on each day.

Yesterday I tried my new VMax fin (39cm) for the first time.  I was totally overpowered on my Falcon 113 and Cross 6.4.  Despite the wide eyes I was able to get quite a good impression of the fin.  My impression is that this is one fine foil.  Even though I was flying out of the water after each large piece of chop, I never felt out of control.  I had one spin-out but the fin recovered quickly allowing me to continue blasting without too much of a delay.  So far so good then.  I look forward to sailing this board/fin combo with my Savage 7.8 and will let you know how that goes.

On Monday we had a far easier sail.  Softer wind and I was on my winter freeride board, Cross 6.4 and shox system.  So much easier than pure slalom!  Joos was also on the water and I have to compliment his rig.  He was on his Manta 110, Vector Canefire Carbon 40cm, and 6.5 Severne NCX pro edition.  What a beautifully balanced, elegant set-up.  The sail has the right combination of power and lightness. The Manta is super easy and wickedly fast, and the fin is a delight (as I discovered when Juan Alonso sent me his to try at the end of last season).  Joos also had his rig softened with a shox system which enabled him to keep sailing for far longer than usual for this early in the season.  It is good to see the guys getting the right equipment onto the water for the prevailing conditions.  A perfect recipe for fun.

I note that Antoine Albeau is once again the PWA Slalom champ.  What a sailor!

Second is Alberto Menegatti.  No mean feat for a guy who was not doing at all well last year.  Alberto was a frequent visitor here last season so we are pleased for him of course.  

Third was Julien Quentel, also on RRD/Pryde.  A lethal combination this year.  This is born out by Arnon's position -  14th!  Fantastic for a guy who has been in the wilderness for so many years.  Great result!

Other points of interest - Loft have not been as well represented in the standings as they were last year.  Bjorn ended in 13th place - not a spent force, but there are quite a few young guys who can beat him most days of the week now.  Some of the old salts did quite well.  Cyrill came in 4th, Ben vd Steen 5th - two power houses of our sport.  Gonzalo made 6th showing that he still has it and that Loft sails can perform in the right hands.  Micah Buzianis and Josh Angulo were 8th and 9th respectively, evidence of the value of experience, class, and years of competing at the highest level.

Talk to you soon        

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Hot Sails Maui - SpeedFreak

Some time ago Christiaan dropped in with a few Kona guys for some long distance, winter cruising.  When they finished sailing, Christiaan showed me his new Hot Sails Maui FireLight 6.0 wave sail.  This is one fine looking thing and virtually weightless (almost as light as the Avanti Viper).  Previously, I had always looked at Hot Sails Maui as a company with heavy products.  I based this on their GPS and SpeedDemon sails and also on their masts - all RDM and all really heavy.  All this heaviness turned me off a bit, so I paid little attention to the brand over the years.  After seeing the FireLight however, I have been having a re-look at them and I have to admit, they have some interesting stuff.

Firstly, the firm has added a lighter mast to their range.  Secondly, if you look beyond the serious speed stuff you find some intriguing sails - all of them incorporating light materials and interesting shapes.  The one which interests me for our conditions, is the Speedfreak.  This camless sail incorporates dacron in its construction but in a fast, high-tech shape.  What you get is a fast, stable sail which is also light and very soft.  I would really like to try one of these sails here just to see if it can hang anywhere near the big guys on their serious kit.  The results may prove interesting.

Even if this sail is not super fast, it could be something to consider for those of us with partners who need light wind sails which are soft and easy to handle.  I like the bat-wing shape and the fact that the concept is bound to work well with fast freeride boards like the Tabou Rocket, as well as on pure slalom shapes.

Talk to you soon


Friday, September 27, 2013

Industry News and Reader Feedback


The new Select VMax fins are out.  They claim to have improved performance over the 2012/2013 models through changes to the flex characteristics of the tip.  Unfortunately the VMaxes we have just received are the old models (still good fins I think).
Thanks to ABC News for the shot

At last the new RRD X-Fire has also broken cover.  As usual it looks fantastic.  When I look at this board and the new Starboard iSonics, I see a move towards narrow tails (incorporated with flares and cut-outs of course)

I hope that Tabou is not falling behind the curve on the slalom front.  The evolutionary approach to design is commendable as long as you keep winning races and I'm not seeing that at the highest level for Tabou.

I mentioned something a while ago about the new soft sail from Challenger.  An interesting development and the latest iterations are starting to look like nicely resolved products.

The performance of these sails is said to be great with a lot more power than traditional sails of the same size.  Riders mention the need to learn the new format and experiment with sailing style and settings to get the most out of the sail.  I'm not too keen on this - I always have the best results from equipment which just feels right from the first time I get onto it and then gets better and better with tiny adjustments and tweaks.  This product represents a new direction and approach however, so we should expect a number of teething problems I suppose.  They seem to have done pretty well so far.

You may not have heard about Elix boards.  They are made in France by people who know their craft:

This is their 130l slalom board.  Just look at the workmanship and the materials used.  Note the narrow tail as discussed above.  Great work guys - we are available to conduct extensive testing here during your winter.  Call me!

Eric Kaminga tells me that he has replaced all his 1012 Mantas with 2013 models.  He recons that there are significant differences between the underside shapes and profiles between the two ranges.  The 2013 models are flatter and probably faster but he thinks that they will be slightly harder over the chop.  I have to say that the rides I have had on the 2013 71 where extremely comfortable over chop.  Probably the most comfortable slalom shape I have sailed.  Best of both worlds?

A reader informs me that CST (the high tech firm making masts for Avanti) are set to enter the windsurfing market seriously with their own mast range.  This has to be something to look forward to.  He  also mentioned the fact that Severne has been having trouble with their Enigma mast breaking in the 2012 Reflex sails.  It appears that the huge luff pressure generated by the Reflexes places undue pressure on the mast leading to breakages.  As I said to him - when one bears in mind the issues we have been having with the NCX's, this news starts to ring an alarm bell or two.  Anyway if anyone can recover and get things right, Severne is that firm.  I have huge faith in the brand and look forward to more exciting things from them.

OK that's all for now.
Talk to you soon          

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

New Equipment and Material Notes


Summer came for 3 days last week and we did some sailing but winter has taken hold again and all is cold wet and gloomy.  I sailed for two of the days and my body is completely broken.  We are going to need to toughen up big time for the season.  Our new VMax fins have arrived.  I purchased a 39cm fin for my 113 Falcon and to be one of the controls against which to test some F4 fins (providing we are able to arrange something with the guys).

This post comprises some random commentary on equipment.

The new Fanatic Falcons have been spotted.  Not easy to find on the Internet, but they are out there.

The sizes are as follows:

80      56      235
90      58      235
100    63      235
110    69      235
120    74      230
130    81      230
140    85      230
150    90      230

All of these boards except the 80 incorporate cut-outs
I favor the 63, the 74 (good width!) and the 85 but as you will know by now, but I would personally swap the 63 for a Tabou 3S 96.

The boards look much the same as the 2013 models but they have a raised back pad in the middle to support the toes.  Nice idea.


Here is the new iSonic in the flesh

The left hand picture is of the 117 nicely decked out with Kovalski footstraps.  Very tasty!

The picture on the right is of the iSonic 90 and I include it because of the extreme thinness of the tail - virtually a needle.  This is going to be really easy through the chop but the upper wings still provide the width for lighter wind, getting started and to enable the board to accept longer fins.


I need to report some trouble we are experiencing with Severne NCX sails.  The stringers in these sails are breaking under downhaul tension causing immediate failure.  The stringer is the reinforced strip which runs from the pulley all the way up to the top of the sail.  My North Ram also failed on the stringer so it is not only Severne with this problem.  Anyway, if this strip breaks, you will see strange effects in the sail panels.  They will rip or the stitching will pull out.  If this happens to you, don't just replace the panels and expect the problem to go away.  The reason the panels tear is because the downhaul tension needs a place to go.  With the stringer broken, it goes immediately through the panels which cannot withstand the strain.  It pains me to report this because I have such a high regard for Severne sails.  These guys get things right as a rule but they need to correct this problem on the NCX.  I still rate it as an awesome sail (if the stringer decides to hold).


I have had some inquiries from readers seeking clarification about grades of carbon fiber.  You will see on North's website that their Platinum Aero masts are made from T 800 carbon fiber.  Avanti's top masts are also made from this.  The Starboard iSonics now incorporate T 700 fiber in their decks and undersides.
The T in these descriptions does not refer to some scientific measure - it stands for Toray (probably the top carbon fiber producer on the planet).  The T numbers are Toray's own internal grading designations.  T 800 is stronger and lighter than T 700.  Both these grades are exceptionally high for the requirements of our sport.  Toray's top fiber is designated T1000G.  This is their lightest strongest material and if you plan to make a vehicle to send into space, this is the stuff you will use to build it.  My hope is that someone will use T1000G for our stuff (boards, masts, booms) some day.  Not cheap I suppose, but overkill appeals to me.

Talk to you soon