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.     


  1. Hi Phil,

    Interesting reading, and I have made similar experience with my large Isonics. Normally I sailed my Isonic 127 with 8.4 race sail and 48 cm fin. A very good combination. But the board was also flying very comfortably with a 7.0 and a 46cm fin. Mastfoot 2cm more forward than for the 8.4, and footstraps all the way back (back foot) and all the way forward.

    The Isonic 127 is now replaced with an Isonic 110 (75cm wide). This board is a fantastic combo with 8.4 and either 45 or 43 cm fin (depending on wind) and with 7.0 and a 43 cm fin. I have even sailed this board with a 5,6 Maui Switch and a 39cm fin. Board bahaving fine with this combo also.

    I am quite heavy (95 kg) and always use fins at least one size larger than what is usually recommended. This keeps the board high and free in the water, it gives good upwind performance, as well as preventing spin outs.

    These new slalom boards are impressive, they tolerate a really huge sail range and you can use the same board over a huge windrange.

  2. Hi Lars
    Thanks for the feedback and nice to hear from you again. What you say bears out what I have been finding lately.

    I totally agree about the huge sail range offered by good slalom boards and I am really exploring this at the moment. Very interesting and great fun.

    All the best

  3. Seems like Taty Frans does the whole big board small sail combo too

    1. Hi Kevin
      You are quite right. I had forgotten about Taty and I now recall him mentioning his preference for bigger boards/smaller sail combinations in an interview somewhere (probably the link you provide). Anyway - interesting stuff an a path I am really enjoying at the moment.
      Phil .