Thursday, February 26, 2015

Sad Post - Alberto Menegatti Passes Away


Just a short post to mention the passing of a great windsurfer.  Alberto was found dead in his bed in Tenerife on 23 February.  It is always shocking when young, fit people leave us in the prime of their lives and this is one such time.

I don't think that anyone knows the cause of death at this stage.  No foul play is suspected so we will have to wait for the autopsy results.

Condolences to his family and friends.

Good winds

(I plan to give you my review of the new Tabou 3S 106 in the next post.  A bit more cheerful)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Big Boards/Small Fins/Small Sails and Manta 81 Review


Big Boards/Small Rigs

As mentioned in the previous post I have been experimenting with bigger boards/smaller sails/smaller fins and have been having some really enjoyable sailing with these combinations.

I own an old Kevin Pritchard replica formula board which I sail with a 9.8m race sail and long formula fin.  As part of the new initiative, I now also sail this board with a 49cm Select S10 fin and my 7.8m Savage, camless sail.  A year ago I would have labelled this second set-up an extremely silly combination but on the water it smokes and is totally comfortable.

The second combination involves my Falcon 125l slalom board.  This is designed to work with fins between 45 and 50cm and race sails over 7.5m.  The board carries a 9m race sail easily.  I fitted a compliant fin of 45cm and began sailing the board with a 6.4  Gaastra Cross and a Vandal 7.0 Stitch (two soft sails).  Once again – great speed, supreme comfort.  As with the formula board experiment above, I would have regarded these combinations as totally wrong a year ago but they work so well.  What you find is that the wide board provides extra distance from the sail giving leverage making the soft sails very easy to hold down.  This ensures that you are able to sail quite overpowered in comfort and keep the board flying off the fin.  The wide board floats through the lulls and rockets away in the gusts (win,win).

My last board in this experiment is a Falcon 113.  I have a VMax 1 of 39cm under it and sail it with the Cross 6.4 and the Stitch 7.0.  Both these sails are too flat for this particular board which needs power to pop it onto the plane.  The 2015 Matrix has the low end grunt to do this which is why I list Matrixes in my ideal quiver.  I rode Karel’s 6.0 Matrix with this board and it rocketed off the line in a fresh (but not strong) wind.  The sail also seemed to lighten the board on the water.

I would only recommend boards which are really light and quite flat for this type of sailing.  I really don’t want to be sailing a heavy Rocket 145l with a 6m sail.  Not at all.  Never! .... Ever!

Manta 81
As mentioned previously, I rode Anthony’s Manta 81 on Monday.  I was slightly underpowered on my flat 7.8 but had some nice runs.  I then changed down to my even flatter 7.0 and was once again underpowered but also got some surprisingly good runs in.

The board is feather light across the water and quite easy to get onto the plane.  You need to move your weight back, front foot pressed right against the front side of the front strap and the board planes quickly away in light wind with a good pump or two.

Anthony had the straps set right back on the board and this made it difficult for me to get my back feet in.  I seemed to be stepping into the water they are so near the edge of the board.  Anthony is extremely skilled and totally focussed on speed so I’m sure that the rearmost positions work for him.  My feeling is that for me, the position seemed to result in too much weight on the back of the board.
This is a picture from Windsurfing33 and shows the positions nicely.  I think that Anthony's straps may have been even further back than the ones in this picture

I would certainly move the straps forward to improve my own performance and comfort (can't speak for anyone else).

With that small change, a fantastic board – light and fast and a worthy candidate for the small fin/small sail initiative.  Windsurfing fairy godmother - please hurry - I need more stuff!

Good winds 

By the way the 81 had a new VMax 3, 43 under it and I have to say an impressive fin.  Nice work Select.     

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Ideal Quiver - 2 and some General Thoughts


We had an epic day's sailing yesterday - big equipment, flat water.  Miriam Rasmussen arrived with a group of fellow Norwegian sailors.  They all seem to be on Challenger sails and Novenove boards. Quite a coincidence in view of my previous post.  Rigged at the site, among all the race kit, they had one of those soft sails which is being developed by Challenger and Heru Sails.  I mentioned this sail in a post some time ago.  As Anthony commented - an encouraging development for our sport.  I'm not convinced that all the gremlins have been eliminated from these designs but am reasonably confident that they will be. When that day comes, watch out!  Our sport could start on a new and exciting path.

What is worrying as far as Miriam and her people is concerned, is the lack of wind predicted for the next few days.  You can usually bank on February in Langebaan to dish up loads of strong, constant wind but I suppose fate is always in the wings to spoil things.  Bring an awesome lady windsurfer from a distant land and watch the wind shut down.  Damn!

Anyway, here is the sail section of the ideal quiver.  I would start with only four sails and these would be GA Matrix - 5.5, 6.5 and 7.0.  The big sail would be a Severne Turbo 8.1.  There are so many good sails out there right now that one could substitute similar lines from any number of brands.

I favour soft sails for 7.0m and down because they are light, easy to sail and will go as fast as most of us are capable of sailing in real world conditions.  They also permit one to constantly vary the sail angle to the wind to improve speed.  This is a fascinating thing and if you consciously do it on every run you become good at knowing when to sheet out slightly to avoid stalling, sheet in slightly to increase upwind speed etc.  It is a subtle activity but really interesting.  Andy, being a pilot, is better at this that I am but I like to think that I am improving.  Cammed sails are far more prescriptive and are engineered to optimize attack angles across varied conditions as long as you hold them reasonably sheeted in.  

When I first rode Joos's new Turbo 6.5m, I recall thinking to myself - why do I need soft sails when this thing is just so perfect.  I then rode Karel's 2015 Matrix and was reminded of the appeal of the more direct, tuneable nature of a good soft sail.  My experiences with my camless 7.8 have convinced me that you need cams in sizes bigger than 7.0m.

So there you have it 5.5,6.5,7.0,8.1.  If you are lighter that I am (80kg or less) then you may choose smaller sizes maybe ranging from 4.7 to 7.5.  If you sail in light-wind conditions you will want to add bigger sails and maybe exclude the 5.5 and 6.5.  My choice is for my weight, sailing style and local conditions.

I have been having great results recently, sailing bigger boards with smaller fins and smaller sails and will discuss this in more detail in the next post.  I also managed to ride Anthony's Manta 81 (nice machine!) and will give my thoughts and impressions of this board.

Good winds


Friday, February 6, 2015

Novenove Boards, Fin News and Ideal Quiver -1


Novenove Boards
Juan from Spain e-mailed me about Novenove boards asking if I had heard about them.  It so happens that I have been following this brand since their inception in 2008.  Cesare Cantagalli was one of the great windsurfers back in the 80's and 90's and I always had the feeling that his boards would be special.  Juan pointed out that both Finian and Pascal Toselli have joined the brand.  We may be seeing a shake-up in the usual brand order this season.  I think that I mentioned in an earlier post how I felt that Pascal was unlucky not to have been on the podium at the end of 2014.  This man rocks a slalom course and is capable of winning every single time out.
This is their Carbon Nano Slalom board.  I am always excited to see the word 'nano' in a description but suspect that this is just clever marketing

This is their Revo freeride board.  I like the high tech materials
Local Fins
Robbie Bense was here the other day and we spoke briefly about the line of fins he is developing. He has named the brand Zulu Fins and they have begun to perform fantastically on the water with Robbie dominating in recent race meetings.  He tells me that he has made over 80 fins (so far) in his quest, and finally has something which meets his own exacting requirements.  In the hand, these foils are really stiff at the base (no flex, no bend) and towards the tip they are quite bendy but still with very little twist.  Robbie is one of those windsurfers who combines massive levels of strength and sailing ability with a passion for the sport.  A good combination for anyone making and testing fins!  I will take some pictures of these blades when he is next here (if I remember).

Ideal Quiver 1
Here are some initial thoughts about an ideal quiver.  Boards first -

  • Big Board (85 cm wide)                                       JP 85 Slalom           2015

I have the feeling that this machine is going to be excellent - simple, light, fast.

  • Medium Board (75 cm wide)                          Fanatic 74 Falcon      2015

  • High Wind (60-66 cm wide)                       Tabou 3S 106 LTD      2015


For someone of my weight this is the base quiver I would select.  The two slalom models will handle your bigger race sails and the 3S will smoke with your 5.5 and 6.5 soft sails.  The Falcon will surprise you when you try it with the soft sails and a small fin.  Massive speed, easy control and massive fun.

Most of us are restricted to the kit available from our local dealer so here, we would need to substitute equivalent Tabou boards (Manta 85, Speedster75 and the 3S).

I'll talk about some sails in the next post

Good winds