Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Best Upwind Slalom Board (??)


Just a quick post.

Juan from Spain e-mailed me with a question that I have absolutely no idea how to answer.  He recons that modern slalom boards are now so specialized for downwind sailing that this has compromised their upwind ability.

Juan asked me to recommend a slalom board with good upwind performance.  I have to say I am unable to answer this question.  I know that pure slalom fins are fantastic downwind tools but struggle upwind.  This makes them not so suitable for most of us.  We don't engage in official slalom racing and most of our blasting comprises a long, tight upwind leg followed by a flat-out downwind blast. Most of us then, require a fin which will power us upwind at speed and not lose composure on the downwind run.

I had never considered that modern, pure slalom boards may also have developed a weakness where upwind blasting is concerned.  This may be absolutely true but I don't have the knowledge or understanding of board shaping to be able to comment.

What I recommended to Juan was that he consider a slightly bigger slalom board than the models he was considering.  He was thinking about a 107 iSonic/105 X-Fire/Falcon 110 etc - all around 70cm wide.
My experience of the 2014 Mantas suggests to me that the boards have become a lot easier to ride in overpowered conditions.  This means that a bigger 2014 slalom board will be as easy to sail as your old smaller model.  A bigger board will allow you to use a longer fin and this will be better upwind (assuming you have the right fin of course).  You can always screw a smaller fin into this slightly bigger board for overpowered sailing.

My recommendation to Juan then, was to look at the iSonic 110 instead of the 107.  I also pointed out that Fanatic's 120l Falcon is 74cm wide - a worthy contender.  As a wild card I included AHD's SL-2 122l.  The AHD is probably not as highly specialized as the others and so may be a little better upwind. Who knows?

To change the subject I thought I would include this picture of Antoine gybing.  Note how far he bends his legs.  This is something which very few of us do correctly.  I always think that I am bending my legs properly but if there are photos of the session, I notice that they were almost straight in the gybe. Well, here is the main guy getting right down.  Low center of gravity = great stability.  Thanks for the master-class champ!


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Some Results and Reader Feedback


Sorry for the long break.  I have been involved in a project and have not felt like posting.

The Defi and the initial stage of the PWA racing are both behind us.
Andrea Cucchi won the Defi after 6 races.

I note that Denis Standhardt came in 4th.  I had to smile - Denis sails here every year in December and I have to say that he is a combination immovable object and irresistible force.  When I am out holding onto my 6.4m for dear life, Denis is screaming up and down on his Vapor 7.9.

I watched him almost sail over the toes of two kiters once, at top speed.  He was totally unfazed whereas the kiters came directly into the beach, packed up and departed.  Good man Denis!
Denis blasts past the first kiter

The second kiter's near death experience

Denis calmly cranks out his gybe and continues on his way.  Awesome!

The PWA, Costa Brava leg yielded a few interesting results.  Antoine won the event with Cyril second and Pierre Mortefon third.  Stellar performances all round.  Of interest to me is the fact that in the first eleven places, three are GA/Tabou riders.  No other sail maker and no other board maker has three places in the top eleven.  Ben came fourth, Cedric came in seventh and Ross was number eleven.

Cedric Bordes is perhaps my biggest surprise.  He usually sits way down in the rankings but I kept on seeing him featuring in the heats.  Initially, I thought that he just got lucky but as the heats and elimination rounds progressed, he was always there.  GA/Tabou have definitely made a breakthrough this year!  The kit works!

Kevin Do has been trying his new VMax fins and recons that he gets faster times downwind with the VMax2 than with the series 1.  He agrees with us here that the series 1 is slightly better upwind than the 2, but for downwind, the 2 is slippier, more controllable and generally faster.  He is also getting great speeds from his Vector Volt Carbon and will be spending more time evaluating this blade in the coming weeks. Interesting stuff.

Kevin reports that one of his VMaxes failed on him (it just started twisting easily in the hand) but that Select replaced it - no problem.  Nice one Select!

OK that's all for now
Talk to you soon (ish?)