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!