Thursday, February 27, 2014

Gaastra's New Branding and Some Sailing Session Feedback


You may have seen the new branding introduced by Gaastra a while ago.
The logo on the right is the new one which they claim is more in keeping with the times than the old one.  I will miss the depiction of the castle but I'm sure that they know what they are doing.  The only important thing of course, is the performance of the sails.

Here is Ross on the re-branded Vapor.  Not bad I suppose.

Session Feedback
Christiaan, a German speed sailor was with us for a few weeks and I had the opportunity to sail with him in a variety of conditions.  He is a Patrik team member so his boards are all Patrik slalom models and his sails are mostly Loft Race Blades. His fins comprise some old Deboichets and new Sonntags. All in all - great slalom stuff.

We had some really strong winds and I rigged a Cross 6.0 on the 3S116.  I screwed in my high wind fin and set out.  Christian rigged his Race Blade 6.2 on his small slalom board - a fast combination but not anything I would want to sail over wild water.  Christaan did surprisingly well but staying ahead of him was easy.  Occasionally I found myself alone at the end of a run to find that he had catapulted and was in the water extricating himself from his equipment.  A definite win for the freeride stuff.

The following day brought wind which was strong in some stretches but weak and gusty in others.  I rigged my 6.4 Cross on the Falcon 113 (39cm VMax fin) and Christiaan rigged his Blade 7.8 on Patrik's excellent 115 slalom.  I think that he had a 40cm Sonntag fin but I'm not sure.  In extended gusts I had no problem running with him but as soon as we hit a lull, the race stuff came into its own.  He held it easily through the gusts and just powered through the lulls.  This is what race stuff does of course.  It powers through the gybes and accelerates away while you are left wobbling with your small flat sail which refuses to get you going.  The race stuff ruled in those conditions!

I have to say that the Loft Blades are fantastic sails.  They are light and breathe beautifully when powered.  I noticed that the second to top batten on Christiaan's 7.8 was very tight and commented to him that he should loosen it.  I also noticed that the batten above the bottom two (third batten from the bottom) was also too tight.  Christiaan looked very sceptical.  I could see him thinking "who is the sponsored sailor here - me or you?" I get the point but (regardless of Christiaan's scepticism) I am right about this. The batten at the top needs to be loosened a bit to effect a smooth exhaust in the gusts.  The lower batten in question needs careful attention.  If it is too tight the power zone of the sail can be distorted leading to control difficulties and a reduction in speed.  The bottom two battens are really cranked of course to create power and Christiaan had done this perfectly.

Talk to you soon         

Monday, February 17, 2014

Gybe Tips and Industry News


A while ago I found myself in the habit of dropping gybes in certain conditions.  This happens to me from time to time and when it does, I have to go back to basics and ensure that I do each move in each phase of the gybe correctly.  To be fair the errors only occur in pretty harsh conditions and only on one tack but concentrating on the basics brings the situation under control every time.
Following this, I thought it may be interesting to share some re-visited gybe tips with you:

  • Speed is the main thing in gybing so you must retain as much speed going in to the gybe as possible.  As you un-hook, be conscious of not sheeting out.  If you sheet out even slightly, you lose speed immediately.
  • Keep you arms straight throughout the entire move.  You must maintain distance from the rig and keeping your arms straight, ensures that you do so.  This maintains power in the sail and also provides a counter-weight to your body as you switch.  Straigh arms retain power and stability.
  • At all times, look in the direction you wish to go (downwind you will be looking through the sail window and as you turn into the new tack you will be looking out along the path you wish to follow).  There is no need to look at your hands or your equipment!
  • Finally, keep your knees bent for stability.  Here is Patrik Diethelm gybing one of his FreestyleWave boards.  Note how his head is below the level of the boom.  Be conscious of having your head below the boom throughout the transition.  Most of us think that we are bending our knees but very rarely is this as much as we think.

On the subject of Patrik's boards and the man himself,  I rate him as one of our great designers. Furthermore, he understands the appeal of a great bump and jump board which can be set up for speed.   You may recall me complaining that the Tabou 3S (116) is a fantastic shape for freeriding and for speed but that the lack of outside strap positions ensures that it can never be ridden at full speed. The lack of outside positions demonstrates that Fabien does not regard this option as important to his target market.
Patrik, on the other hand, does regard the option as important.  This is what he writes about his freestylewave boards:

The words he chooses in the above description show that he understands.

I really hope that Fabien gives this aspect some consideration down the line with the 3S's.

Other Industry News:

Maui Sails have changed the bend characteristics of their masts with their new generation of equipment.  Those of you who follow this type of thing will know that Maui Sails have always had the hardest top masts in the industry and this has made it impossible to mix equipment from other brands. The new masts now have a constant curve so compatibility issues are a thing of the past.  Well done guys!
Now if we could only persuade Neil Pryde and Gaastra to follow suite....

Carbon Art have incorporated cut-outs into their new slalom boards.  This is surprising since they have always said that cut-outs are a fad and that they do not work.

Lastly, I am having trouble understanding Starboard's AtomIQ specs.  They say that the model's fin box is a power box but when I look at the pictures I would swear that the fin box is Tuttle.  What makes it more confusing is that the magazine reviews of these boards  all refer to power boxes.  Surely that is two holes I see over the finbox area?
Talk to you soon

Monday, February 3, 2014

2015 Vandal Mission


As promised in the last post, here are two shots of the new 2015 Vandal Mission.  Vandal's range has never included a cammed sail so this 2 cam model will be the first one.  I like the way it sets and the way it performed on the water.  Not a race sail by any standards but a light, comfortable, fast sail for general blasting.  This proto is 7.8m in size and the guys had it on a 2014 Rocket 115.  

Regular readers will know that I am a fan of sails which have a central, tri-angular power zone with separate outer leech section made of thinner material.  Vandal have done this on their 2015 sails.  The latest Maui Sails TR-X race sail is also configured like this (see below).  In my opinion Maui Sails have made better use of the concept but it is nice (for me anyway) to see Vandal moving in this direction. 

Mission on the grass

Mission on the water

Maui Sails TR-X

Speaking of new sails, we have had reports (from several very credible sources) that the new Severn Reflex 5 is one fantastic sail.

2014 Reflex 5

I am always inclined to be anti more battens and more complexity but apparently this new sail is better in every way than all previous models - lighter in the hands, more stable, easier to rig correctly etc.  All in all one serious piece of equipment.  Looking at the Maui sail above, there must be benefits to a 9 batten layout.  The guys at Severne and at Maui Sails know a thing or two about building fast machines.

Talk to you soon