Friday, March 28, 2014

2014 Tabou Manta 71 - Some Advice from Ben


I promised to share some information on setting up the Manta 71.  The background to this is that Anthony (our supplier), sent Ross Williams an e-mail asking for advice on this topic.  Ross forwarded the e-mail to Ben vd Steen who replied thus:

From: Ben van der Steen
Sent: 17 March 2014 11:08
To: Ross Williams
Cc: cedric bordes;
Subject: Re: 2014 Manta 71

Hello Guys,

I have been using the 71 a fair bit now and it does not seem to need very big fins 

40/39  on 8.6
39/38 on 7.8
38/37 on 7.1 

so Antony your fins are for sure a bit big . You can also try the mast track a little more forward if you keep tail walking .

The footstrap position on the board is also a bit closer together than previous years so you might want to put you straps little more apart .
I personally use the back strap 1 hole from the back and front one all the way forward or 1 from the front.
so try the smaller fins play with the masttrack a bit and let us know how it goes

Best regards
Ben van der Steen

This is interesting because it ties in with what several guys have been finding regarding fins for the 71. Charl changed fins from a 39 VMax to a 37 S11 and tells me that he immediately felt improvements in control and speed with his 6.7 race sail.  I had no problems with the VMax 39 with my 7.0 Stitch but I am a lot heavier than Charl.  The bottom line is that anyone trying this board needs to experiment with smaller fins than they may have had on previous Manta 71's.

Speaking of fins here are two tasty ones:
This is ERD's carbon slalom fin.  Nice design and by all accounts one hot thing

These are Silverline fins from KW Fins.  What makes them different is the fact that they are hollow.  I always take notice when a sailor who has been struggling for a few years starts to win races.  Nicholas Warembourg (that is him below) is such a sailor.  He is one of the people behind these fins so they obviously work.  Look them up! 

Talk to you soon
(Our season is basically over but it looks as if we will get a few days sailing starting Saturday).

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Medium Sized, Fast Board Problem


I have been doing some re-thinking about my ideal board quiver mix and I thought I would share some of this with you.

My ideal four board quiver has always been Big Slalom, Medium Slalom, Big Freewave, Small Freewave.  I have always seen the medium slalom board as a 70(ish)/110(ish) pure slalom or fast freerace design.  This is the part I have been re-thinking.  Recent sailing sessions have me convinced that for my weight (90kg), I need a wider board for this slot.  I am convinced that I need to be looking for something around 75cm wide and 120l in volume.

To this end, I asked Anthony for a ride on a Tabou Thunder 120/75.  He only has these boards in the heavy construction but I thought I would get a good impression anyway.  I took the board out with my 7m Vandal Stitch and the standard 42cm fin.  The wind was a bit marginal


The good news is that under full power, this board can be as fast as all but the fastest racers on pure slalom equipment (I blasted with one of the best).  The thing is an absolute rocket ship when ridden with intensity and it treats rough water with disdain.  A huge surprise.

The bad news is that I battled to get the board planing.  Charl (admittedly much lighter than me) was on a new Manta 116/71 with a 6.5 NCX Pro and was blasting off the beach and out of the gybes at the other end whereas I was left standing.  No good even if I was as fast once going.  The board just seems to want to sink into the water in marginal wind and pumping seems to make things worse.  Very disappointing.  Andy had no such problem with the bigger Thunder and he suggests that I may have had the mast foot too far forward.  I will try moving it back if I can scrounge another ride from Anthony.  If I can solve the planing problem then the Thunder 120 will become my choice for this slot.

Until I come right however, the Starboard Futura 121 keeps its position in my personal dream board quiver.

If you are a lighter sailor then you must consider the 2014 Manta 71/116 for this slot.  An awesome, awesome machine when properly finned!  We have received some guidance from Ben vd Steen about the fins for this board and I will share this info with you in the next post.

Talk to you soon        

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

2014 Tabou Manta 71 - First Ride

Our wind started off well yesterday, blowing moderate to fresh south easterly.  This usually means flat water, constant wind and long high speed runs from the top bouy back to our beach.  I went down quite early hoping to get a ride on the new Manta 71 and was in luck.  Anthony had it rigged with a VMax 39cm (version 1) fin and the mast foot right in the middle of the track.

I took the board out with my 7.0 Vandal Stitch (fully downhauled) and was instantly on the plane.  The board is fantastic in these conditions.  It is really light and dances over the water.  The nose lifts willingly allowing you to fly off the fin easily.  Not once did I lose control or tailwalk.  The ride is easy but engaging and seriously fast.  The board feels alive and responds instantly to rider inputs.  Three fastish guys were among the sailors on the water and I have to say that passing each of them was ridiculously easy.  On the long runs I opened up huge gaps with no effort at all.  

Some top slalom boards are fast but have a dead feeling under foot.  This is not one of those boards.  It allows the rider to distribute weight perfectly between front and back foot, is lively and above all – great fun.  I did not once feel the water with my back heel.  Despite the outboard position of the strap, the sculpted wing over the cut-outs sits right under the heel, keeping it off the water.  The board seems to shrink as you speed off, feeling much smaller than 116/71.  I suppose that this is due to the cut-outs.    

One of the things the board does is to emphasize weakness in other parts of the rig.  I could feel that my Vandal is not completely up to the task of maximizing speed.  I could easily have had a fully cammed, 7.0 race sail (Loft Blade maybe?) and this would have elicited even better pace.  If I were racing-strong, I could easily have had a 7.8 race sail to really haul out of the gybes.
The VMax fin is great for downwind blasting but if you need something to power you upwind at optimal speeds – probably not the best thing.  I believe that Joos’s Vector Canefire carbon 40cm is probably a way better bet for this type of sailing.  This Manta makes it easy to assess these things because it is so balanced and performs its own function so effortlessly.  A really good platform on which to test slalom sails and fins I would think.  Magazine guys - look no further!

I tried the board with my Cross 6.4 as well just to get a feel and it performed beautifully.  It adopts the playfulness of the Cross easily while maintaining a high rate of knots over the water.  Later, Gareth came out as the wind dropped.  I rigged the 7.0 again and had some great runs.  Gareth wanted to try his new VMax 39 on his Rocket 115.  A good combo it turns out but not in the same league as what I was on.  The wind continued to drop and I have to say that in light wind the 71 is no fun at all.  Horrible in fact!  If you are falling off the plane and entering gybes slowly – use a bigger sail and/or a bigger board.  Slow is not what this machine is about - overpowered is the way to go.  All in all - one hell of a board!  I will try to get a ride over rougher water and will give feedback if I do.

As I was leaving the windsurfing center, Andy appeared from the shed with the 2015 Vandal Mission 7.8 with his 2013 Manta 71.  I discussed this 2cam freerace sail a while ago.  I watched for a bit and the sail looked super cool on the water but we need to hear his impressions directly.  I will pass these on when I have spoken to him.

Talk to you soon  

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

2014 Tabou Manta 71 - First Look


Anthony recently took delivery of a 2014 Tabou Manta 71.  Andy and I had a good look at it and spent some time with a straight edge comparing its profiles with Andy's 2013 71.  The most obvious difference between the two boards is the introduction of cut-outs at the back.  Tabou joins the other top slalom brands in this so I have to finally accept that these things work.  I still need to ride this board but I suspect that I will be totally converted.

The rear rocker line of this board is absolutely flat where the 2013 board had a very slight negative kick starting about 30cm from the back (wtf).  The rails towards the back of the new board are extremely sharp (sharper than on the 2013 model) and all the edges in the cut-out areas are knife edge sharp.  The new cut-outs exhibit a confidence and maturity of design that is hard to explain but if you have a chance to examine one of these boards you will understand.  All the surfaces and planes just seem to flow and to work together.  If I have a chance to ride the board I may have to re-visit this impression (fancy shapes are only as good as their performance on the water after all) but I have a feeling in my stomach that this is going to be something special.

The other obvious change from 2013 involves volume distribution.  The new machine has a lot more volume under the feet.  They have achieved this by reducing the thickness of the board forward of the mast.  I suppose that the new reduced tail also contributes some volume for this.  The result of these changes (including the cut-outs) should improve speed, control and planing out of gybes.  Combine these improvements with Fabien's usual offerings of sublime comfort and gybing excellence and you realize that we could be looking at a classic slalom machine here.  I shall be watching Ben vd Steen's performance on the PWA circuit with interest this year.

Talk to you soon