Thursday, March 17, 2016

Additional Post on Light-Wind Super-Boards


Martin Cross responded to my ramblings about a new class of big fast boards and his comments made me realize that I need to explain some of the reasons for my position on this concept.

The first thing Martin said was how good the Starboard UltraSonic is and I have to say that of the current crop of big freerace boards, this has to be the pick of all of them.  I will therefore include the US on the list.  In my dreams, the other three shapers will build the boards I suggested and I would then be fascinated to see a comprehensive back-to-back test of all four boards.

The other thing Martin queried is my requirement that the big board should be able to perform with a flat 7.8m sail.  Here I need to explain:

The biggest sail many local sailors own is a 7.5m, cammed model of some description.  Some guys have pure race sails, some have softer free-race options.  I personally own race sails in sizes up to 9.8m but my equivalent in the 7.5 area is a camless,  7.8m/7 batten sail.  This sail is also the biggest on offer by our local rental shop so we see them on the water constantly (especially at this time of year when our wind has lost its teeth and is interspersed with evil lulls).

The board customarily used with the 7.5 sail, in our light winds, would be a slalom model of around 80 cm wide and around 130l in volume.  On so many days we have good wind in places but with light patches.  On these days the guys will take their 80cm/7.5m board/sail combos out and usually battle to get going.  The gusts are fine but in the lulls they fall off the plane and wobble for much of each run.  In these conditions I rig my 7.8 on the 90cm board and simply fly.  The board width keeps me going through the lulls and the strap distance from the centre line provides massive leverage over both sail and fin for effortless control in the gusts.  The result is the ability to sail as long as I like, in total comfort and high speeds over flat water.  With this set-up I am able to smoke sailors on formula boards with 9m race sails - as long as we don’t go deep downwind or very tight upwind.  On those tacks I am not so clever (in fact - note to self - don't do that again!).  

A nice aspect of the 90cm/7.8m combo is that if the wind picks up, you move straight down to your 75cm or 71cm slalom board without the need to change the sail.  If the wind drops, rig the old 9.8m race sail, screw the big fin onto the wide board and continue sailing.

The secret of this enhanced performance in squirrelly conditions is to come down on the fin size.  My board was designed to be sailed with 11 and 12m sails and 70cm fin but I discovered that it is 100% happy with a smaller fin and smaller sail.  As I say, the leverage provided, makes this type of sailing something really special and based on these experiences I wrote the previous post.  We need a special class of modern board to capitalize on the type of conditions described above.  
Starboard created the US for exactly the type of sailing I describe and I’m sure that it is one fantastic product.  My wish list comprised three other boards from three other designers who I think, could each make a huge contribution to this class of sailing.

A possible quiver with one of these boards at the top, could look something like this:

90 cm Super-Board
75 cm Slalom (Fanatic Falcon or Patrik F-Race)
64.5cm fast B&J (Patrik F-Cross)
60.5 cm fast B&J (Patrik F-Cross) or smaller wave board depending on your sailing preferences.

I am a huge fan of rigging the B&J boards with slalom fins for phenomenal speed over choppy water with light sails.

The above quiver may be something to consider

All the best

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Perfect Light-wind Board

As mentioned in the previous post I would like to try to imagine a perfect lightwind, high performance board for the non-racer who likes to go fast. 

I would disqualify modern formula boards from this exercise because they are difficult and brutal.  I would also exclude 85 cm slalom boards because they are too narrow.  

We are looking for something around 90cm wide with a length of around 2.5m.  These dimensions, I believe, make it possible for the designer to create the combination of ease, speed, control and early planing we seek.

Light wind boards currently on the market include Starboard’s UltraSonic, RRD’s X-Fire Lightwind Ltd and JP’s Super Lightwind.   These boards all seem to have the correct dimensions and, on paper, offer exactly what we need – early planning, easy control and high top speed.     I am unsure of all three of them however.  The UltraSonic and the Super Lightwind both earn enthusiastic reviews when they are tested alone.  As soon as other boards are included in back-to-back testing, weaknesses emerge.  In one test, Fanatic’s Falcon 152 was included in the line-up and the consensus of the testers after exhaustive comparisons, was that if you want superior lightwind performance, you would need to go with the Falcon.

The above review also stated that the RRD is somewhat technical to sail at its full potential.  These comments have caused me to reject the three boards above.  I’m sure that they are all good but I’m not convinced that any of them will become cult boards.  We need a cult board in this class.
So – why not just opt for the Fanatic Falcon 152?  This is the board which out-performed the others in terms of speed and control.  Well, the dimensions and shapes are wrong for a start.  The board is only 230cm long.  This, together with tail cut-outs and recessed deck, is a recipe for stalling through  gybes (for the normal sailor).  It is also difficult to get into the straps (you virtually step into the water to get your feet in).  As with most slalom boards, this one has just one row of footstrap holes.  I have read good reports about the performance of the 152 but also read one owner’s comment that his front foot keeps coming out of the strap.  Red flag!

Despite the above concerns I am going to put the 152 on the final list.  The board will need to be altered though, before we can accept it as a possible cult board.  Other boards which make it onto the list of possibles are Elix’s R1X,XL (also to be altered), a board from Patrik which does not yet exist and if Mike Zajicek wants to make our cult board then he is on the shaper’s list automatically.

It occurred to me that once you start specifying what you do not want in a particular design, you also need to say what you do want.  Here is what we want in my opinion:
  •          Light construction (under 8kg)
  •          90cm width
  •          150 litres volume
  •          Over 245cm length
  •         Able to carry cammed sails of 10m+ with a 60cm fin           and also perform with a camless 7.8m sail with a                 50cm fin (sails from 7.5 – 10m).
  •         Very early to plane, very easy to gybe and keep                     planing through.  Effortless control at speed.
  •         Extremely high top speed in medium winds
  •         A finger slot for carrying (see RRD X-Fire Lightwind)
  •        Light straps (see Starboard iSonics)
  •        Two strap position rows.
  •        We may need to ditch the cut-outs and may even                  require something like a diamond tail.  (?)

The big problem with the Elix XL is the length - only 232cm so not acceptable.  Another concern with this board is the bottom shape.  I notice a pronounced V and I’m not sure that this is what we need for the sort of speeds and acceleration I envisage.  I may be wrong here of course.

The Elix is definitely an interesting proposition but there are too many unknowns.  If we exclude it then we are left with three potential boards.

The first is a board from Patrik.

This awesome machine (which only exists in my head at this time), uses his Formula v4 hollow board as a starting point.  5cm is removed from each edge to arrive at our required width of 90cm.  The board is then stretched to achieve a length of 245cm.  Two footstrap rows are required, a finger recess for carrying and hey presto we have one version of our dream board – the Patrik Lightspeed.


The bottom would look something like this but as I said, the cut-outs may have to be ditched.  Note how flat the underside is.  Simple and fast!

Patrik, if you are out there, please build the Lightspeed immediately!


We could do a similar exercise with the Fanatic Falcon 152 which, since it is already 90cm wide, would only need to be stretched to make the grade (once the straps are sorted of course).  This is my stretched 152 concept. 
Dan, please join the quest to advance this board class.  Build the Falcon Wing 152 and make so many windsurfers very stoked.

Mike’s Lab

Mike, you automatically join my list of chosen shapers to build your version of the vision.  Here is the imagined Mike’s Lab Megaflight - a board one would purchase and keep for life as a prized possession! 


There you have it.  Three blueprints for a memorable windsurfing concept.

Good winds to those of you not getting too cold


Three Developments I am Following


Here are three developments in our sport which I am following with interest, quite impatient to see how they pan out.

The first development is the Heru/Challenger soft sail.  This came out a while ago but outside of Challenger’s site I don’t find info or reviews.  I am always interested by equipment claimed by the developer to be both easier and faster on the water.  The developers of these sails claim exactly that.

The second development is Mistral’s new VRTS boards which I did a recent post about.  As I said in the post, let’s hear from someone outside of Mistral about how these boards perform.

The third thing is Patrik’s new hollow board line.  Steve Allen won the Australian Formula competition on Patrik’s hollow Formula v4 board.  Please find visuals online.  It looks sweet and is apparently a lot lighter than current formula boards. Nice!
The Internet has a few pictures of the hollow slalom boards – just look for the large drainage plug at the back.   Come on Patrik, put them on your site!

What I would like to do in the next post is to explore a solution for an easy-to-sail, light wind board which is super fast.  I have an old Zajicek designed board which is 90cm wide, super easy and flies with a 7.8m camless sail or a 10m race sail.  You only need to swap the fin (49cm, 65cm).  This board is such fun and so incredibly capable that I wondered if we have a modern equivalent on the market.  I want to discuss some of the candidates and hopefully come up with a dream lightwind board. 

Good winds