Friday, March 29, 2013

Early Morning Slalom Run

I have inserted these 2 video clips but fear that they are not playable on the blog.  I will work on the problem and see if I can get them playing.  Sorry for this.


Today gave us strong winds and unsettled water.  Andy and I both made an early start to get some slalom sailing in before the conditions became too wild.

The Andy was on his Manta 116 and I was on my Falcon 113.  He rigged his Vandal Addict 6.5 and I had my Vandal Stitch 7.0.  On paper I should have been able to get planing before Andy but it was no contest.  He pops onto the plane so quickly and easily leaving me pumping and using unsuitable language.

The top vid clip shows some of a long blast from the foot of the mountain in to the beach.  I do OK but have to say that Andy had to wait for me to get planing on the far side before putting the hammer down.  The second vid shows a run from the buildings and this time no waiting by Andy.  No contest as the clip shows.  If you want to win races and you are a fast sailor I simply can't think of a better board than the Manta 116.

This is a shot of our last run.  Not good for me but on this combination Andy is virtually untouchable.

That's me holding my ass after an unpleasant kicking.

Talk to you soon


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Ideal Quiver - Some Questions and Answers

Here are some questions from Nils which I include on this post in case some of you don't feel like opening the comments section:

Hi Phil,
your personal weight would be of major interest to be able to scale up/down your quiver to other sailors. Apart from that I have two questions.

The first one is regarding the 3S 76. Did you notice it is US-Box and a shape from 2009? I think it could have very different properties to the newer shapes and as far as I know you won't be able to find a fast fin for US-Box.

My second question is about your selection of sail sizes in the 5.x to 6.x area. As far as i know you sail a 6.4 and a 5.6 at the moment but would possibly opt for a 6.4 and a 6.0 now. My question is: why? Are 6.4 and 5.6 spread to wide for your needs? I think you wrote that Andy is using a 6.0 and 5.2, which is totally different to your selection. Is he that much lighter or what is the reason?

Kind regards from freezing Germany

Here is my response:

Hi Nils

My weight is 90kg.  Andy is about 97kg I think, and he is much stronger than I am.   Unfortunately the 3S 76 comes with a US box and this was the same in 2009.  I include a picture below of a fast Select US box fin of mine.  It was their Wave Freestyle model which is no longer in production but you may find one in a supplier’s store.  This exact fin would be awesome under a 3S 76 from any recent year.  

Having said this I am not too concerned about having a fast fin on a very small board.  The reason for this is that when I am on such a board the water condition is pretty wild and control is far more important to me in these conditions than speed.

My selection of smaller sails is different to Andy’s.  As you say he goes down from a 6.0 to a 5.2 and this combination is optimal for him.  He holds the 5.2 down when I am either sitting on the beach frightened, or on very small wave stuff.  

My ideal sail down from the 6.4 is a Cross 5.6.  At the moment I have a 6.0 Remedy which I need to hold onto because it is still in decent condition.  My replacement for this sail will be a 5.6m Cross.  At the moment I can hold the 6.0 into really strong wind and quite comfortably step off this size onto a 4.8m wave sail.  In these winds Andy is blasting up and down on his 5.2 leaving me to play on the wavy stuff.  

Your question about the jump from my 6.4 to a 5.8 is interesting.  I am holding the 6.4 into really strong winds at the moment (I have it on North’s Shox system which allows me to hold it when others are on 4.7 wave kit) so I don’t envision any problems.  You will note on the blog that I give several options for the 6.4 and 5.6 sail choices.  We all sail differently and the 6.0/5.2 combo works for a large number of sailors.  My sailing partner Gareth swears by his 5.3m Severne Gator and he can step off his Gaastra Savage 6.7 onto this sail (this is not optimal but it can be done.  He also has a Gator 6.0m) so there are no hard and fast rules around these smaller sizes.  I enjoy sailing overpowered so my ideal sizes will work for me.  The 6.0/5.2/4.7 combo could actually be better for a greater number of sailors.

All the best

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Some Recent Thoughts About The Ideal Quiver


I have had the opportunity to sail quite a few new boards recently and I have consequently changed my views slightly on the ultimate board quiver.  I have decided to look at the subject in a slightly different way to the previous approach.

Here we go -

If I was put in a position where I could have only one windsurfing board I would choose a Tabou Rocket Ltd 115.

If I could choose only two boards I would choose Tabou's Manta 116/71 and a 3S Ltd 96.

If I could choose 3 boards my choice would be Tabou Manta 135/85, Manta 116/71 and 3S 96.

Add one more board and depending where I was sailing I would add either a big freeride board like a 3S 116 or, if I wanted to sail often in stronger winds, board number four would be a 3S 75.

The above selections probably give the best bang for your buck assuming that your local winds are not too light.  If your average wind is very light you could consider throwing in a formula board with one or two big sails.

I have confined my selection to Tabou boards but people like Starboard, RRD and Patrik all have excellent equivalents which would do equally well.

The sail selection for the above board combinations would come from the following sails:

          8.5 Gaastra Phantom
          7.8 Gaastra Phantom or Savage
          7.0 Severne NCX
          6.4 Gaastra Cross or Severne NCX 6.5 or Severne Gator 6.5
          6.0 or 5.6 Gaastra Cross/ Severne 6.0 or 5.7 Gator
          4.7 Severne Blade

As with the boards I have confined the list to sails I know and have no problem recommending.  Guys like North, Ezzy and Avanti will all have great equivalents.  The only problem I have with Avanti is that their sail sizes don't seem to fit comfortably into my optimal range.  I need to come down from a 6.0 to a 4.7 (not a 5.0 or a 4.5.  Their Viper wave sail doesn't come in 4.7 - pity!  Likewise their Poweride comes in 5.8, 6.6, 7.4 etc.  I suppose the 5.8 Poweride would fit into my scheme in place of the Cross 6.0 but none of the other sizes work.    

I rode the new Manta 81 recently but the wind was very light so I can't give you a proper report.  I hope to get another ride soon and if I do I will give some feedback.  Andy and I have a slight difference of opinion regarding this Manta in one's quiver and I hope to cover this discussion if I get a chance to post the aforementioned feedback.

Good winds

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Manta 116 First Ride

The 2013 Mantas have arrived (including the much anticipated 116/71).  Among the local guys - Andy has purchased one and Andre as well.  I had the opportunity to ride Andre's 116 and can give some brief feedback.

The board is really smart on the beach - immaculately finished and beautifully detailed in its livery of black, green, cyan and white.  The carbon weave is visible through the clear coat of the deck - very cool!  The 116 is light in the hand - just slightly heavier than my Falcon 113.  This may mean that it is a bit stronger and durable than the Fanatic (?).

On the water the immediate impression is just how early and easily the board planes.  I was out on my Falcon and 7.0 when Andre kindly offered me a ride.  I clipped the 7.0m onto the 116 so that I could get an immediate feeling for the differences between my Falcon and this machine.  My Falcon is no match at early planing.  You can pump the 116 onto the plane with the front foot in the strap and it just floats up and away.  The board flies over the chop when up to speed and is every bit as good as the Manta 113 proto I reviewed in a previous post.  My Falcon is good over the chop - this Manta is great.

The gybing performance is slightly different to that of the Manta 113 prototype and also different from the Manta 110/69.  In my opinion the new board may be slightly more difficult for the average sailor to gybe than either of these other two boards.  The new board needs absolute commitment of the inside rail and good entry speed to get around smoothly (no problem for the top racing guys of course).  The older boards seem to me to have magic built into them when it comes to gybing.  They carry you through the move, holding you all the way.  I think that Fabien has sacrificed a bit of gybing magic for early planing.  Having said this the Manta is no worse than my Falcon in the gybes.  Speed and commitment guys!

Andy rode his new 116 with the local speed demons and was untouchable.  He tells me that his first run on the board saw him slightly in the lead.  On his second run he widened the gap and by the third he was totally out of reach.  Bear in mind the guys he sails with are some seriously fast sailors but no one stood a chance regardless of the equipment they were on.    

My first ride on the 116 was quite short and the board was slightly over finned for me so I hope to have a few more rides with a different fin to gain a better impression of it.  Regardless of these things, I believe that this board has to be on a par with anything else of comparable size on the market today.  Awesome job Fabien and the Tabou team.      

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Feedback From Our Lagoon

Our main sailing season draws to a close so the winds can be shifty and difficult to predict.  We do however, still get fantastic days now and again and Sunday was such a day.  The wind had quite a bit of east and was constant.  In these conditions, the water is reasonably flat and you can sail long legs at high speed – a perfect opportunity to tune my Falcon 113 and my Vandal Stitch 7.0m.  I am embarrassed to tell you how anal this process is.  The mast foot is moved in increments of about 1mm at a time and when the sweet spot has been found the outhaul settings are similarly adjusted.  This is something to be done away from others.  I’m happy with the results however, and feel that I have achieved a nicely balanced set-up. 

This is a picture of my Vandal.  It comes from their site and was taken when the guys were here doing a photo shoot of the 2013 sails.  I subsequently purchased this very sail. 
Stitch action photos

Vandal has closed its doors now I suppose, with Dan Kaseler’s move to Avanti so I’m glad I was able to get it.  Dan is one of the sail designers in our sport with an exceptional talent for designing stable, fast, camless sails.  His experience as a top yachting race sail designer has given him special insights which enable him to create something special.  The Stich is way special.  I don’t like the Vandal masts however.  A softer top, constant curve mast is better I find, so I use a North Platinum 460 SDM.  The result is a feather light, lightning fast, joyful thing.

Everyone had a fantastic sail on Sunday.  I recall Volker, a visiting Swiss sailor, emerging from the water – his face shining with joy.  “Fantastic” was his only comment and I think this summed it up for all of us.  On days like this I am reminded of a line in one of Van Morrison’s songs – you come away “…feeling wondrous and lit up inside with a sense of everlasting life”. 

Surely this is what our sport is really about – not obsessing over mast track and outhaul settings.  Will any of us stop fiddling and faffing with our equipment though?  
Not on your life!

Talk to you soon

Rigging and Sailing the Gaastra Cross

Here are some slides of my Gaastra Cross 6.4 and my Remedy 6.0 taken a few weeks ago.

This is my 6.0 rigged on a Fiberspar Radius 430 mast..
This is the same sail on the ground.  The outhaul looks too tight to me in the picture.  I would have loosened it before  setting off.

Here is my Cross 6.4 rigged on a Gaastra Silver RDM mast.  Once again I would have released about one cm of outhaul before setting off.

These are 2 of my boards from the same day.  I have been experimenting with mast track positions on the 113 and have come right back in the mast track since this picture.  The above position gives an extremely stable ride but causes the board to be very slow to plane.  A position just back of center frees the whole thing up nicely.

As you can see, the Gaastra Crosses require quite a bit of downhaul.  The reason that the outhaul setting on both sails was a bit tight was because the wind was a lot stronger in the previous session.  When we store our sails we simply release downhaul tension and hang them up.  When we next rig them, we set the downhaul for the prevailing wind and re-set the outhaul to match the new downhaul setting.  Both sails are set for medium/strong wind.

Sail the Crosses overpowered in this way and they are light and fast.  Be very careful to optimise the outhaul setting once you have downhauled correctly.  Half a centimeter either way can make a huge difference to the sail's performance.  Experiment!

Another really important aspect of sailing soft sails is the degree to which you sheet the sail in on various tacks.  It is easy to stall the sail by sheeting in too much and when you do this you lose masses of power.  Sheet out slightly when going downwind for example.  Far more than a race sail, a soft sail needs to be "flown" with sensitivity to get the most out of it.  I have my lines perfectly balanced for both tacks and make minute adjustments from this position.  Andy rides with a bit of back hand tension.  He says that this gives him the ability to feel and to constantly make the adjustments he needs.

This is an area which is not learned from theory.  Be conscious of the need to adjust sheeting angles and experiment!  Over time your body will learn how to maximize drive over a range of sailing angles and water states.

Good winds