Thursday, February 28, 2013

Power Sailors and Feedback on Gaastra Savage 7.8m

Sorry for the long silence but I needed a break from the blog.  Anyway I’m back and would like to give some feedback regarding the soft kit for high wind racing as promised in the last post.  I will also share my feelings regarding the camless 7.8m Gaastra Savage.  I have sailed mine extensively against different sail sizes and configurations so I am in a position to give a reasonable verdict.
First, I want to explore the reasons for the astonishing performance achieved by the likes of Harry and Andy with soft sails in high winds.  The problem with pure race stuff is that its sole purpose is to go as fast as possible (assuming optimal board/fin/mast combination) in a given wind range.  In wild water, this speed means that one is continuously faced with the very real prospect of becoming airborne off the top of steep chop.  The only way to avoid flying in these situations is to sheet out.  Sheeting out on a race sail reduces mast foot pressure causing the board to tail walk.  The racer then, alternates between sheeting out to avoid taking off (on the one hand) and being out of control because the board is tail walking (on the other).  This is all happening in nuclear wind and vicious chop.  Not a recipe for speed.  Harry and Andy are so fast in these conditions because their boards (Rocket 105 and 3S 96) are kinder and a little slower than slalom boards.  Their sails are Gaastra Remedies which are quite happy to be sheeted out with little effect on board trim.  They are therefore able to control their speed and their equipment over wild water.
The equipment then, enables them to sail in relative comfort (compared to the racing guys) and therefore, maintain control.  As I've said before - comfort=speed.  Having said all this, it must be added that both of these guys are highly skilled and extremely fast sailors (it is not just the equipment but the equipment allows them to do what they do best). 
The above points only apply to wild conditions of course.  As soon as the water flattens out, slalom kit rules.   

My feedback regarding the Gaastra Savage 7.8m is as follows:  The sail is extremely fast and comfortable.  It is easy to rig, light in the hands and a joy to gybe.  All in all, this sail is really nice to live with.  Having said this, I have to add that although I can keep up with 7.5ish 3 cam race sails across the wind, I battle as soon as the course turns up or deep downwind.  The cammed sails are simply more efficient.  If your purpose is to race this size of sail then I would recommend a sail like the Gaastra Phantom 7.8m or Severne’s Overdrive 7.8m.  I rode Karel’s 7.8m Phantom and was astonished at the performance and ease of use.  Light in the hands and it rotates like silk.  Awesome job Peter Munzlinger!

The new Manta 116’s have not arrived so I can’t give any feedback yet.  I will briefly discuss some rigging points for the Gaastra Cross in the next post

Good winds      

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Select Edge Fin


I wrote a while ago about my concerns regarding the discontinuation of Select's excellent SRX Freeslam fin. We have re-discovered this fin and some of the locals have been reaching unheard of speeds in rough water with these blades.  Get the correct size for your board/sail/sailor combination and you will surprise yourself with the performance you can achieve over rough water.

I was concerned that Select, in creating the new Edge, was fiddling with something which was perfect for its specific application.  Well, Anthony has brought a selection of Edges in and several of us have tried them.  They are fantastic!  I thought that they would not be able to better the SRX but they have managed it.  Every single person who has tried an Edge is absolutely stoked with the performance and most of them immediately purchased the Edge they were trying.

I always wait for Andy and/or Harry to give a positive endorsement before I burst into print.  Well Andy is totally stoked with the Edge 33 in his 3S 96, and the Edge 39 in his new Rocket 115.  Select tell us that they have slightly softened the tip of the Edge compared with the SRX and what a success!  Well done guys - most impressive.

Andy posted his impressions of the Edge in the comments section of a recent post.  Look them up if you are interested in getting this fin.

I hope to talk a bit about the new Mantas in an upcoming post.  Eric Kaminga has given some feedback which I want to post and we are also getting some of the new 71/116 models.  I hope to ride one of these and give feedback.

Stay sheeted in  

Some Moves Within the Slalom Community

Here are a few of the recent moves which may be of interest.

Arnon Dagan has left Gaastra/Tabou to join Pryde and RRD.  Probably a good move for him since he has been in the same position for quite a few years.

As I predicted in a previous post, Alberto Menegatti has indeed left Gaastra for Point 7.  I rate Alberto as a really fine slalom racer so I wish him the best in his new company.

I was discussing Daniel Aeberli in a previous post and the new F2 board he was working on.  Imagine my surprise on learning that he has just joined Fanatic.  Peter Munzlinger tells me that Daniel will not be designing for Fanatic but will be employed in another capacity.  I understand the difficulties which would occur if you tried to get both Sebastian and Daniel designing boards so it makes sense for Daniel to be doing something else but what happens to his design talents?  Watch this space.

So Gaastra has lost Arnon and Alberto but they have gained one Ben van der Steen.  This is a really significant move and I think that it is going to benefit both parties.  Ben is an awesome sailor and a real powerhouse - I believe that Gaastra finally has a sail line which can match the best in the industry so this marriage is something which we need to watch carefully.  With Ross and Ben, both young and extremely talented, Gaastra has the foundation of a really successful slalom team.  Hopefully they get one or two additional hot slalom sailors before the season starts.  Interesting times!

Talk to you soon


Some Tabou/Gaastra News


Sorry for the long break but I have been sailing a lot and am invariably too tired by evening time to spend any time writing.  I said that I would be discussing my ideas about the benefits of soft equipment for stormy racing conditions but that post will have to wait.

Ross Williams and Peter Munzlinger were here this morning with some race sails and 2 Mantas - (the new 71 and the new 61).  We had the opportunity to get a good look at the equipment and discuss various things with Ross and Peter.  Here are some pictures:
Hennie discussing the new Manta 61 which he hopes to buy.  Peter is to the right of Hennie, I am next and  Harry is to the right of me.  Harry is the man who will kick your ass on the water if you are anything less than a national level racer.

Anthony (our supplier) discussing the footstrap positions of the 71 with Ross.  This is a  prototype board so details like the pressure screw and footstrap plugs needed  some tweaking to get them operational. 

Me, Ross and Peter 

Hennie doing more talking about the 61 (to a slightly disinterested Peter, Phil and Harry)

The 2 Mantas from above.
We did some casual racing to give Ross a run.  Ross took out a Vapor 7.9, Hennie took his Pryde race 7.0 and I took my new Vandal Stitch 7.0 on my Falcon 113.  The other guys had an assortment of sail/board combinations.  All of us chose badly for the conditions.  As soon as we got onto the water, the wind started jacking up.  I ended up holding on for dear life having a completely miserable sail.  Ross had to abandon the racing.  The fact that he was even able to sail with a 7.9 in the storm conditions is very impressive.  The other locals (Hennie, Harry, Tony, Grant and Brett) all hung in there and managed to complete a few races.

I spoke to Ross about his new fins (F-Hot).  These are high end carbon fins which feel and look fantastic.  The slalom models come in 4 different stiffness ratings (S1, S2, S3, S4.)  S1 is very stiff while S4 is extremely soft.  My feeling is that I would need an S3.  Look out for these fins when they hit the market.  They are going to be reasonably priced and from what I saw, both in the hand and on the water, they are awesome pieces of equipment

While we were racing we noticed the RRD team at the water doing some testing and a lot of photography.  Antoine was on his Pryde race sail and the new X-Fires - speed, speed speed!.  The RRD people I recognized were Dave White (taking photos), Jem Hall, Antoine and Roberto Ricci himself.  We seem to have a lot of windsurfing and kitesurfing legends here at the moment.  Robbie Naish is also in Cape Town for the kiting hang time event.  I forget what it is called but the kiter who gets the longest hang time wins.

I spoke to Peter about some of the moves within the windsurfing slalom community.  I always like to get an insider's view.  I will discuss a few of these in the next post.

Go well and I'll speak to you soon