Monday, December 28, 2015

Some Equipment Concerns and a Useful Link


I have had feedback from several readers regarding the piece I wrote about my experience with the Tabou 3S 106 some time ago.  Guys are buying this for a high wind alternative to their slalom equipment - a great choice as far as I'm concerned.  

What worries me slightly is the fact that almost to a man these guys have picked the Severne NCX 7.0 as their sail of choice for this board.
The sail size is covered by the board specs for the 106 on Tabou's site but I am slightly worried about the NCX.  My experience with the NCX 7.0 is that it is quite racy and heavy - fine for a slalom board but I'm not sure how it will work with the 3S.  

The 106 really shines with a light, fast, flat, freeride sail and if properly rigged, one of these in 6.5m can be a revelation on the water - fast, comfortable and fun. Change down on sail and fin size when the wind jacks up and you can reach astonishing speeds in difficult conditions.

Interestingly, the NCX sizes smaller than 7.0m are perfect for the 3S (the new NCX 6.0 is fantastic). I must say that the NCX 7.0 I sailed is from 3 years ago and I know how Severne improves their stuff every season so I may be worrying for nothing.  

Here are some of the sail models I know will work with the 3S 106 for high speed blasting:

  • Severne     - Gator

  • GA              - Cross

                           - Matrix

  • North        - E-Type (I recently acquired a 6.6 E-type and                                                                                                             will be giving feedback soon)

  • Hot Sails   - GPX

  • Maui Sails - Switch

  • S2 Maui    - Banshee

  • Loft          - Oxygen

For all of these models the 6.5 (ish) size will be the sweet size but the board will fly with smaller sails in strong wind.  Don't hesitate to screw in a slalom fin like Select's High Wind G10 or iFins Fight Club.  Hold on tight! 

Here is a link to the global wind map.  Many of you will have this already but if you don't, it demonstrates what is really happening with your local wind,42.38,512

I take this opportunity to wish every reader all the very best for the new year.  Happiness and proper wind for a change!


Saturday, December 5, 2015

Reader Feedback


Guiseppe, an Italian reader gave some feedback after my article on the difficult rotation of Gareth's 2016 GA Phantom.  He tells me that he is in bed with influence - (WTF?).  It took me a few seconds to work that one out!
Anyway, Guiseppe makes some good points in his e-mail which I will attempt to summarize.

He recons many cammed sails come with spacers fitted today.  I was unaware of this, not having bought a high performance sail for some time.
He rightly points out that your new sail will be tight for the first few sessions and your rotation could indeed be difficult.  In this case remove the spacers.  The sail will stretch over time however, and it is advisable to check the fit of the cams on the mast from time to time as the sail beds in.
As soon as you detect looseness, re-fit the spacers (start with the smallest provided, increasing in size as required).  This will ensure that you maintain optimal efficiency over the life of the sail.

Thanks for this Guiseppe and I hope your influence clears up soon.

The comment on my previous post regarding Flikka boards was a strange thing.  I had just been on the Flikka site (which I do from time to time) and this comment appeared on the blog out of the blue about Flikka boards. Not sure how that sort of thing happens.  

On the subject of Flikka, I know that they test here in Cape Town sometimes so Flikka guys - if you bring any slalom stuff please spend a day or two in Langebaan and give me a shout.  I would be very interested to ride one of your boards (120l or 140l) and provide commentary for the readers. 

Good winds

Thursday, December 3, 2015

A Call for Standardization


Looking at our sport I have to say that we have little to complain about.  Every brand has great designers who are pushing for continuous improvement in design and materials.  Apart from the very high prices of new equipment, our sport is awesome.

What always irks me however, is the lack of standardization in areas where it could be so helpful, practical and easy.  Here is what I am talking about:

A while ago I included an image of Starboard's new light footstrap and remarked on the adjustment system they had developed.  Here it is:


The system appeals to me because it is simple and easy but while looking at it I was reminded of the failure of our windsurfing brands to get together on standardizing a few non-proprietary elements we all use.

I would like the screw head for every footstrap screw to have an internal hex button-head cap like the bolt below.

I would like all fin bolts to have exactly the same head.  I would also like the air screws on my boards to have this feature.

Lastly, the size of the hex aperture on all of these things should be exactly the same as in the batten tensioning grommets on my sail.  

This level of standardization would allow me to carry one small key (on a string round my neck or in a harness pouch) which I could use to tighten any or all of the above while on the beach or indeed while standing in the water, waiting to launch.


Come on suppliers - this would be so easy to do and would enhance the enjoyment of everyone who loves this sport.

Good winds 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

New Equipment Feedback and Some Commentary


GA Phantom 7.8

You may recall me discussing a test of some free-race sails of around 7.5m.  The GA Phantom performed pretty well in this test but the tester commented that rotation was sticky. 

I mentioned that Gareth had ordered this sail and that I was confident that we would cure the rotation problem when it arrived. Well G took the new sail for a spin the other day and was happy with the performance.  He agreed with the tester however – the rotation was not good.

What he did after the session was to read the instructions which come with the sail (who does that?!).  The instructions mention that you can remove the spacers if rotation is poor.  He looked inside the sleeve and sure enough – the sail comes with spacers fitted onto each cam.  He removed these and his next session was much improved.  Problem solved!  

Heads up for any of you who have bought or are planning to buy this sail.  Look inside the sleeve!

Stunning Sail!

Evil Conditions and Severne Unit

About two weeks ago a few of us were out in difficult conditions.  Our prevailing wind here is from the south east.  This wind is usually constant and easy to rig for.  

When it blows strong south westerly however, it can be gusty.  The sea in this wind (depending on the tides) can have high, steep swells with deep troughs.  The gusts are fierce and the lulls light.  These are difficult conditions and not suitable for slalom sailing.  

What equipment to take?  I decided on my retired Naish Hybrid 110 (blow off 10 years of dust/chase spiders out of every nook and cranny), 37cm Edge fin and 6.0m sail.  This combo is good over chop, the large fin keeps the nose up and keeps going through the lulls (sort of).  The sail was a 6.0m Cross.

I did quite well on this combo and was easily able to keep ahead of most of the other guys.  I am not totally happy however.  The old Hybie slows down quite quickly in the lulls.  I would have done better on something with better glide.  I have to say I spent some restless time that night trying to envision an optimal set-up for these conditions.

I think I have a dream combination for this type of sailing now  - here it is:

Sail            Severne Unit 6.0 or 6.5

Board        Patrik F-Cross  102 or 112

Fin    iFins Air 34 or 36.

The star of this line-up is the Unit - a strange foil with 5 battens and one cam.  This sounds like the sort of Frankensteinish thing I usually avoid like the plague but just look at the pictures.  It looks so right on the water and people who have sailed one are ecstatic.  

The first guy in the UK to sail a Unit was a tester.  He finished his test and ordered a 6.0m and a 6.5m for himself immediately (he couldn’t stop smiling ).
This is not going to be a sail for the racer or speed demon but as a fun, easy sail with low down power and great controllability it promises to be something special.  Certainly it would be special for our difficult s-westerlies (or our winter n-westerlies for that matter).


Slalom Boards

The testers from Surf Magazine are with us at the moment.  They usually come with only wave and freeride kit but this year are testing some big slalom boards as well.  

They have 5 models – Tabou, Starboard, JP, RRD and Fanatic.  All boards are around 81cm wide and they test them with North Warp 8.4m sails and Select VMax4 fins (43 cm I think)

I have asked the testers for their preferences among these boards but they are quite non-committal.  They say that the boards are different but each one good in its own way.  One thing they all agree about however, is the fantastic improvement in the JP 82.  They recon it’s gybing, control over chop and when overpowered are in another league compared to the 2015 model. 

I think that with the excellent 85 slalom (new for 2015), Werner had a design breakthrough and has carried this into the other JP slalom sizes for 2016.  Nice to see!

Good winds   

Monday, November 9, 2015

A Drone Just for Us!

Joos told me about a really neat drone which could be exactly what most of us have been waiting for.

The name of this thing is Lily and the developer has designed the software with adventure sports in mind.  Of significance to us is the fact that it floats, is water-proof and takes off from the water – no problem.


Water no Prob

The Waterproof Controller

The controller is worn by the rider so you are never in a situation where the craft loses contact with its base station. The rider is the base station. 

The drone can be set to follow or to hover, keeping you in frame or to capture certain moves in slow motion.  Very clever.

Please have a look at this footage if you have not done so already.  $499 for early orders – Bargain!

Here is another vid about Lily with a robot describing all aspects of the device.

Good winds

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Some News from Luderitz


Here is some news from the speed challenge.

Karin Jaggi has set a new women's record at 46.31 knots.

Patrik, using her sail, set a new Italian speed record at 52.33 knots.

Antoin beat his own world record and recorded a stupendous 53.27 knots.

Anyone who has tried unsuccessfully to sail faster than 30 knots knows how almost super-human these speeds are.



Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Short Post


Here is a very short post regarding the Luderitz Speed challenge.  Their site is really interesting for all speed junkies.  If you have not done so, please have a look at it.  The winds so far have not been as strong as in previous years but a few national records have been broken.

A while ago I mentioned Sailloft Hamburg sails in a piece about Patrik boards.  Karen Jaggi was riding the Ultimate model from this maker.

Looking at the speed event pictures, I notice that Patrik is riding speed sizes of the Ultimate.


Does this mean that his involvement with Loft Sails is coming to an end?  He is still listed as an international team member on the Loft site but with Karin now part of Sailloft Hamburg, maybe Patrik will join up as well.  Watch this space!

good winds

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Severne and Avanti

Some comments about new equipment.  Firstly I note that Severne is trailing everyone at publishing their 2016 sail line.  Not sure why but there is probably a good marketing reason.  I suppose that once you have your new line published, you battle to sell any current year sails still on dealer floors.

Speaking of new sails here are two 2016 versions of the Avanti models I always covet.  This year they are even better due to the fact that the overhanging batten above the boom on the Poweride has been dropped.  Yay!
The 3 Cam Condor

No Cam Poweride

What I especially like about Avanti’s sails is the use of really high tech scrims.  They are extremely fast and easy to sail (according to every review I can find) and of course, light and strong.  Nice work guys!

Both sails come in sizes 5.8/ 6.6/ 7.4/ 8.2/ 9.0 with the Poweride having an additional 5.2 size at the bottom end.  Batten numbers in the Poweride vary according to size.  Nice!  

Talk to you soon  

Saturday, October 3, 2015

GA Phantom 7.8 - 2015 Review and new Fanatic Formula board


GA Phantom

Gareth forwarded me the link to this review.

Their findings with the Phantom 7.8 are exactly as I would suspect - fast and easy.  As I've said before, Peter's designs have become so good at providing a linear power delivery which gives one huge confidence as you spool up.

Gareth and I were discussing this via e-mail (he is still in the UK but due back here within the next three weeks) and I was saying how suitable these sails are for the non-racing blaster.  The ease makes high speeds such a breeze and if you compare this sail with the Severne Overdrive you will feel the difference. 

The Severne is so fast and performance orientated but with this potential comes a concomitant price - no forgiveness  for fuzzy technique!  You will find that in the gusts, if your technique is not spot-on, (if you sheet out for instance) you will be continually fighting for control in strong conditions. Exhausting and intimidating!

Of some small concern is the tester's finding that the cams on the Phantom are difficult to rotate. I'm sorry to hear this but I am fairly sure that when Gareth's arrives, we will sort any rotation problem out - no problem.

Fanatic have introduced their new Formula Board  

Dan says that he will do with the formula model what he has done with their slalom boards - create a shape as good as the best out there and I believe him.  

Up until last season, if I were in the market for a formula board my choices would have been Mike's Lab, Starboard and Gaastra (in that order).  The big Fanatic didn't appeal some how.  This one however, I have a good feeling about.  Watch this space!

I note that most of the designers test their shapes using Z Fins or Kashy.  I hope that we can test a Zulu fin in one of these machines this season.  Robbie??

Good winds  


Monday, September 21, 2015

Gybing Post

Regular readers will know that I do something about gybing from time to time.  This is one of those gybing posts.

I have tried to simplify the slalom gybe by breaking it down into its constituent parts.  I have used a live gybe by one of the experts (Matteo Iachino I think).

Here he comes entering the move at full tilt
He retains pressure on the inside rail and begins to flare the sail (important)
Note how he keeps his eyes on where he wants to go.  He continues pulling the boom towards the outside of the turn .  He steps with knees bent.
His front foot is forward controlling and stabilizing the board.  The amount he has flared the sail is really apparent.  The board very briefly straightens out because his weight is over the centre line.  I have the feeling that he has stopped looking at where he wants to go.  Antoin never finds himself in this position
He flips, and resumes carving by forcing his heels down and looking into the direction he wants to go.  His speed allows him to continue through the gybe.  You can see the slight mistake in the wake.  
He lifts the front of the boom up, keeping the rig away from his body.  This is the point where he will suddenly break at the knees to very briefly remove his weight from the board.  This serves to keep the board planing and will also bring the nose down. 
The nose settles and his arms are straight ready to pump.  See ya!
 All the best 

Good winds

Monday, September 14, 2015

New iSonic and X-Fire Boards



Visuals of the new iSonics have been around for a while.  I have to say that I'm not that impressed with the graphics.  They look like something I might have come up with (not good!)

These pictures come from Jeffrey van Hoe's weblog.  Thanks Jeffrey.

The needle-like tails remain on the boards.  I understand that the size with the biggest changes has been the 124 which will be completely different from the 2015 shape.  The other sizes have changed but not much.

One thing of interest with these boards is the new light weight straps.  I use Kovalski light straps and have really got to like them over the years.  The problem with the Kovalskis is that they are not adjustable.

These Starboard straps have adjustment (OK you need a screw driver but it looks to be quick, easy and a nice simple system).


Here are some shots of the new X-Fire profiles.  Much the same as this year I think.  They certainly look polished and the new graphics are reasonable.

Talk to you soon
Good winds

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

2016 North Warp


I found this 2016 North Warp presentation on dailymotion (from Wind Magazine).  Apologies to all the non-French speakers but I'm sure that the visuals are reasonably interesting.

As I keep saying, this foil just seems so simple and for me, that is part of the appeal.  Add to this the phenomenal results the team are achieving and you will appreciate what an elegant piece of design it is.  I also like the fact that the long batten does not protrude too far beyond the boom end.


Présentation North Sails Warp F2016 by Wind_Magazine

Enjoy and I will talk to you soon.

Our winds are almost ready to kick in for the new season.  Can't wait!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

New GA Sails

Just a quick note to give you some info about the 2016 GA Matrix, Cosmic and Phantom lines.

I hope that Anthony gets a Cosmic 7.5 in this year.  This is the size I like to experiment with and I just have the feeling that in 7.5, the Cosmic could be something special for the non-racer.  For the 8.5m size, I would definitely go with the Phantom.

I hope that you are able to expand the images.  I need to publish this and get back into the blog to see if that can be done,

Good winds

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Random Thoughts and some new Equipment

Sorry for the long break but I have been involved with non-windsurfing stuff for a while
Anyway on the new equipment front, the new Fanatic Falcons and all of North’s sails bar the 2016 Warp are on the respective sites.  These guys are really getting their act together – evidenced by the fantastic PWA results.  As mentioned previously I like the simplicity of the North sails.  The Warp is light with only 7 battens and is currently dominating the best slalom racers on the planet. Impressive.  Looking at the videos I note that the new SL Slalom hangs with the race foils quite nicely at speed.

GA and Tabou are also doing better than they have done before.  Ross Ben and Cedric are currently at 4th, 5th, and 6th respectively in the rankings.  A great showing.

I still think about Challenger’s soft wing sails from time to time.  I note that they have both a camless freeride model and a cammed race model for 2016.  I would so like to try one or two of these sails.  If you’re out there Challenger – please send me one or two soft wing sails to test!

The Fluido Soft Wing

Their GT2 - Nice!

Talk to you soon


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

New Mantas and Reader Feedback


2016 Mantas

Visuals of the 2016 Manta range are starting to show up.

Two bits of good news:
  • They look stunning.  Just look at the picture!  The artist responsible for this has a very special talent.  Carbon in a board always looks the same but this guy has incorporated the effect so cleverly into the deck design.  A serious piece of art!  
  • The 2015 shapes are pulled through into the new range (all except the 61 which has had a full revamp)

I am pretty relaxed about the shapes staying the same for 2016.  It simply means that they are considered to be as good as they can be at this time.  The 61 Manta should be something really special though.  The entire development effort concentrated on just one board.  Awesome!

Reader Feedback

You may recall me telling you about Lars from Norway who was shopping for a replacement 115ish slalom board.  I had suggested the Angulo Magnum and was awaiting his final decision.  Well, he bought the Magnum and has started to ride it.  Lars recons that the thing is a demon through the gybes.  He also mentions that he is able to tack it and, when limping home in light wind, it is not too uncomfortable.  This all speaks to the extra volume around the mast track and the extra length.  Nice!

His problems include the board flying off the fin in strong gusts.  He wisely moved the mast track forward and (I think) moved his footstraps forward.  These are two good things to do.  You will find that some sails may require you to come fairly far forward with the track.  Lars has NCX's which are inclined to be quite back-handed in the gusts.  This backward pull can cause your back foot to put pressure on the fin leading to spin-out and/or the board flying out of the water.  Don't hesitate to move the track forward to improve control.  You can move it back over time as you get dialled in and familiar with the board.  Also, move your harness lines back.  You should be able to let go with your back hand at speed and the rig should retain its angle of attack to the wind.   

I also advised Lars to try a smaller fin with his 7.5 and 7m sails.  He was using a 43cm Boss with these sails.  His 38cm fin should be fine and will certainly give better control with better top speed. The other thing is to ensure that your NCX's are pulled down properly.  Don't pussy foot with this and as the wind picks up, increase the outhaul a bit until the rig becomes tight and springy (not too much outhaul however).  Remember that these are not race sails and they need this extra support to compensate for their lack of cams.

Speak to you soon
Good winds  

Monday, July 13, 2015

New Equipment

Sorry for the long break but I have been concentrating on my commercial website for the past few weeks.
The two pieces of new equipment to bring to your attention are the iFoil and Severne's new line of boards. What??

The iFoil is a windsurf board whose foils ride on top of the water.  They have been designed to provide tremendous lift while submerged for rapid planing but as soon as the foils break the surface the lift falls off and directional stability takes over.

The designer is an aeronautical man who totally understands all of these things and I have to say, has come up with a striking concept, elegantly resolved.

iFoil at speed

The underside of the beast

Night sailing
Please go to Boards Magazine for a full review of this machine with detailed explanations.

The new Severne boards are about to break cover.  So far I have only seen wave and hybrid models. Hopefully we are going to be getting a nice slalom line as well. Please, please, please!

You will find some scraps of info on

This is not the best visual but there is next to nothing online at this time.

Good winds
Talk to you soon

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Sad Post - Goodbye Peter Volwater


This is another of those sad posts.  Peter Volwater passed away yesterday.  He had apparently been suffering from severe depression and was unable to continue.

I must say I had been wondering about Peter lately.  He seemed to have been absent from all the competitions and now it all makes sense.

The man was windsurfing royalty - a fantastic sailor and a proper gentleman.  His passing leaves a huge hole in the fabric of our sport.

My profound sympathy to Peter's family and friends


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Zulu Fins Update

A while ago I gave some feedback about my experience with a fin from Zulu Fins.  This is a locally produced product which in my opinion is able to hold its own with any slalom fin on the market.  
A bold statement I know - I have no experience with any real high end fins (Kashy, Ifju, Elk etc) but I can say that Robbie’s fins do everything that I could possibly want.  End of story.
I will repeat what I said in that post – the secret of these fins seems to be in their bend characteristics.  They are incredibly solid in the upper section (no bend, no twist), no real twist towards the tip but a quite noticeable bend there.

Please visit Robbie’s site for visuals and read feedback from racers around the world. 

Some really hot individuals are getting awesome results with the fins.
I see that Isaak de Vries placed fourth in the 2015 Green Island Slalom Nationals in Australia on Zulu fins.  Just to give some perspective, Sean O’Brien came in fifth and Craig Spottiswood, tenth.  This is an example of the sort of company in which these fins are being successfully deployed.

Robbie’s price is comparable with many high end fins but if a few of the real big guys start winning on them and word gets out, demand is going to push the price skywards.  It may be an idea to order one or two now just to lock in the price.

As I said previously, what you get with these blades is the benefit of Robbie’s expertise and perfectionism.  He is one of the hottest racers around and having developed a recipe which works, he personally fine tunes each size until he is satisfied.

Pay a visit to Cape Town in January or February, meet Robbie (on the water if you want to have your ass kicked) and see these things in action.  While you are here, come and sail in Langebaan for a few days.  Here you can experience flat water blasting at its best and reach new speeds with your new Zulu fins.  Gareth and I will keep you company on the water to give you something to measure against.

Most guys dream of fancy women and fast cars (fast women and fancy cars??).  My dreams look more like this! (Sad but true)

Good winds


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The 115l Slalom Board Decision


A while ago Lars from Norway contacted me for advice on buying a new slalom board.  He feels that his medium sized iSonic is just a bit too wide for the type of chop they experience at his sailing spot.  The wide bottom gets bashed about. 

Lars feels that he needs a slightly narrower board and has decided on a new 115(ish)/71(ish) board.  This he will use in what to them is stronger wind.  For lighter winds he has a wide iSonic which gives him all the support and flotation he could possibly need.
During the discussions Lars forwarded a nice review page from a windsurfing publication.  

As you can see the results are presented quite nicely on one page and their test covers most of the usual suspects.  A nice chart for all of us I think.

What we both regretted is the absence of a Patrik model in the line-up.
Anyway, what to recommend.  Lars weighs between 90 and 100kgs and is not a pure racing sailor (like 95% of us I suspect).

As you can see from the chart, all these boards are excellent and I believe that while they may differ slightly, none will be clearly better than the rest for winning races.

In the case of a non-racer, I always try to focus on comfort, early planing and ease of gybing.  I also favor a slightly longer board because this makes it less technical to get planing and also makes the board nicer to bob back on if the wind drops.  I acknowledge that pure racers may look for a totally different set of attributes.

I know that Patrik boards are comfortable and gybe well so our short list ended up being Patrik’s 115 (2) and the Angulo Magnum 115.  The Patrik is slightly narrower and shorter.
I am biased towards the Angulo mainly because I have always wanted to own one myself but also because Ed Angulo is one of the old time windsurfing designers who can put magic into a design.  My choice in this situation would be the Magnum.

I await the decision of Lars and the results he gets on the water.

Just look at these designs.  Simple cut-outs, straps not too far outboard, longer than most modern slalom shapes and versatile (the 115 takes sails from 6.5 to 9.5 and with a smaller fin will smoke with a racy 6.0m.  The 115 takes fins from 35cm - 44cm)  The boards are light (the 135 weighs only 7kg!)  

Speaking of old designers who know how to put magic into their designs - here are four:  Ed Angulo, Mike Zajicek, (late)Harold Iggy and Gunter Lorch.  These guys all learnt things in the days of long narrow boards - special things which seem absent from many modern designs.  Riding on a good piece of equipment from one of these guys means being first on the water with a shiver of anticipation.  It means being the last off the water feeling deep peace and joy.  Modern equipment with its razor sharp performance can enable you to win the race but often seems (to me anyhow) to have lost a bit of soul to get there.  

This is all part of my current rebellion against equipment which punishes us:
  • fast boards whose straps are almost impossible to get into when accelerating away, 
  • fast boards which refuse to balance the power between front and back straps lightening the front foot to such an extent that you have very little control, 
  • fast sails which refuse to rotate and which also work your body into a state of exhaustion after only a few runs
  • fast sails which are so heavy that you develop varicose veins in your legs just carrying them to the beach
  • etc
Anyway, on the subject of easy equipment I will do something on Robbie Benz's Zulu fins in the next post.  As discussed in an earlier post, these fins are very special because they produce high performance together with supreme comfort (much like some of the boards from the old masters listed above)

Talk to you soon