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 


Monday, June 1, 2015

S2 Maui Sails - An early Appearance

Just a short note with a visual of one of the new sails from this new brand.  You may recall my recent post regarding happenings at Maui Sails and the departure of Barry and Artur who, together with Rick Whidden have formed S2Maui Sails.

I reported that their range would be available next year but they have brought that forward and are almost ready to show their wave and freeride sails to the world.  The sail which interests me is their Banshee, a 6 batten blasting rocket.  Remember, these are the guys who designed the original Gaastra Remedy (now Cross) an incredibly fast sail in 6 batten guise (2013 and earlier).

Well here is a preview of the Banshee:

They are using a brand new "Spacelight" scrim for the entire sail (very strong and very light) - no mono-film.  They also claim to have refined warp path reinforcement and all of this produces a sail which is lighter, faster and easier to use.  Nice if true.  I would really like to get one to try.  They say nothing about masts yet so watch this space.

This sail will compete with the likes of the Gator, NCX, Matrix, Hucker etc.  I have to say that it looks the business with its high tech scrim and race battens.  Nice work guys!

Good winds (we are freezing here!)