Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Perfect Light-wind Board

Hi
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.  (?)

·          
Elix
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!



Fanatic

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


 d





28 comments:

  1. Hi Phil, I own a 2014 SB US147 and I just want to say it is a dream to sail in light winds with both 9.5 & 8.6m sails, the ride is smooth the straps are not too outboard and it is fast, it has never come off the plane in any lull and it gybe so beautifully. Don't right this board off!

    I can't understand why you would want a board this size to take a 7.8? Especially when you bang on about the manta 71 so much which is perfect for the 7.8, you are asking too much of one board.

    I know people here in the UK that have traded in their JP super lightwind for the SB.

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  2. Hi Martin
    I have to admit that I have never ridden an UltraSonic. From the looks of the board and the enthusiasm of owners it has to be special. I will stand corrected then and include it into this class. Regarding your question about the big board/7.8 sail I will do a short post to explain. Not enough space here.
    Thanks for the feedback
    Phil

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    1. Hi Phil,

      I'm wondering why you push the RRD x-fire Lightwind from your list. Maybe you're going to refer to the German surf-magazine test when you say that board would be to sail to technically.

      But with a little customized tuning it is the excisting AWESOME LIGHTWIND SUPER CULT BOARD! Put the penultimate back-strap holes 2 to 2,5 cm nearer to the center (small job for your local board-repair service), because they are really much too outstanding - and everything is superfine:

      With its 236 cms it's onto the plane immedatetly. It gybes like a queen and it is outstanding fast.

      I (96 kgs) use a 10,6 old NP V8 for 8 to 13 kns in real small lightwind conditions - starting to plane from 11 kns with a little gust and never fall out of the plane down to 8 kns! I use a 10,0 2014 H2 from 12 up to 20 knots - this combo is a fascinanting burner. I've had my personal speed record on the "500m turn" with this big board/sail combo at 18 kns last autumn. Last but not least it performs extraordinary comfortable as well under a GA Phantom 8,5 or Savage 8,6 with higher winds around 15 to 24 kns. Try it!

      P.S.: I absolutely agree with your actual board list: It's the same as mine since 3 years, I've never been happier with my boards since this decision: 90 , 75 , 68 and 63 - that's it!

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    2. Hi Doctor(?)
      I have to say that when the RRD came out I thought - this is exactly what we need but when I read Stephan's review I was disappointed. I am interested by your tuning of this board which makes absolute sense to me. The bottom line is that the shapers need to listen to ordinary sailors to get it right. They do not listen and they do not talk to us.
      RRD, here is a suggestion. Increase the length of your board slightly and add another row of footstrap bolt holes, bring the final proto to me in Langebaan for final sign-off. I will represent the good recreational sailor and sign off on his behalf. Antoine cannot represent us - he is the top slalom guy on the planet with no idea about our concerns and problems.
      All the best
      Phil

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    3. Hi Phil,

      I can send you a few pictures if you want.

      ... be shure I'm not in connection with RRD, I'm an average sporty recreational sailer too. Maybe the x-fire lightwind with more length would work even better than it already does now. A few years ago I owned a starboard 175 (93/275) and then an appollo with 242 cm length. They worked a thousand times better and more fun than current short - formula shapes. But I do not share the opinion of the surf, for me the modified!! x -fire lightwind is not an overtechnical but a beautiful further development for the earlier target group of these elder formula-boards until there is an even better board according to your concept (which aren't the actual jp, tabou or starboard? solutions).
      But I agree with you - take the sail-cutters: Is there any big freeride oder freerace sail up to 11 qms on the market (except the Maui Sails Titan which may have no future) to supply our lightwind-wishes. I helped myself and bought last year an old NP 10,6 V8 from 2006 - big smile when I can overtake those guys on their formula-gear in early planing.

      Stay rigged, Thomas

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  4. Hi Thomas
    I agree with everything you say. My point is that the boards we buy should be correct and should not need to be modified. To be fair it seems that the RRD is quite close to being right.
    Like you I find some of the older race sails way, way better than the modern wide sleeve machines. I use a Nitro5 for my 9m sail and a Nitro4 for the 9.8m. Both of these are rigged on Fiberspar 100% carbon masts and they are fantastic. I can keep up with most riders on modern race sails but the difference is that I am in complete comfort while the wide-sleeve guy has to fight every inch of the way.
    All the best
    Phil

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  5. Hey Phil
    Great write up- couldn't agree more.
    Ive been on a 89 cm ml board for the past few years sailing it with a smaller 60 cm kashy fin and 9-10m avanti rig in lighter winds. It delivered far better comfort than a formula board with out giving up much. It also doubles down as light wind slalom board when we race slalom. The 70cm ml slalom board may be a bit more versatile when there's wind. Its been my go to board for a few years with the 7.7 avanti rig and 42cm z fin. These however- cant compare to what the wind foil will bring. There a few guys sailing in the SF Bay who've spent the last 2 years foiling their windsurfers with much success. They've modified their ml 89cm boards and are foiling with 6m rigs in 12k. Ive gotten a few flights on the wind foil but have all but switched to the kite foil in winds under 20k. A few other guys are foiling with 75cm slalom boards but the learning curve is longer.
    Onward and upward...

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  6. Hi Steve
    Nice to hear from you. I'm pleased every time a sailor tells us that they use this particular sailing configuration - it works so well for me and I urge fellow windsurfers to give it a try.
    My beliefs in this have been validated by the various comments to the post and by the dozens of e-mails received from across the world. When someone with your background and credibility joins in, it confirms that we have something good.
    You have some great equipment by the way - I have envy.

    I agree that we need to keep an eye on the whole foiling thing. It could be the way things are headed. I watch the kite foilers gliding across the sea and just know that the technology deserves to be embraced by us at some level.

    Regards
    Phil

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  8. For me the perfect-light-wind-board is (was) the Starboard F155 (http://2000.star-board.com/main2.htm). It was one of the earliest so-called Formula-shapes, but at 85cm wide, still by far not as extreme as the later 100cm wide Formula's.

    In fact, I upgraded to a 1m wide Starboard F147 some years after, so apart from a better angle/VMG upwind and downwind (which is great if you are racing up/down, I'm not), it wasn't offering me the extra fun, as it was quite a bit more technical & physical, not as fast (surely the 70cm fin is part in that), and getting easily overpowered if wind increased a bit.

    So, after a few years on the F147 (no competition), I switched back to the F155 and found again the extra fun! For me this F155 (and also the F147) were mainly low/medium wind cruising boards, which allow me to make long (planing) trips where-ever I want over big lakes, so giving a decent angle upwind is also important for me (which I didn't read in your specifications for the ideal lightwind board). So the F155 was perfect for that, sacrificing a bit of up/down preformance, in exchange for much more fun and control, and survivability if wind increases.

    OTOH, the F155 wasn't allowing me to mix with the typically light/medium slalom weekend-racers, as doing lots of beam reaching was getting too physical, even on the F155 (because of the wide rear), especially when wind increased above 15kn or so. So for that reason I bought a 80cm light/medium racer (iSonic117), which is a super board for beam reaching and racing, so it doesn't offer anything like the upwind capabilities (especially in lighter wind) of the F155 (let alone the F147). Surely I kept using the F155 for the cruising sessions, besides the iS117 for the buddy-racing.

    So now recently, my good old F155 (16y old!) is getting completely soft in the whole standing area, pretty much un-repairable. I have been looking around for a replacement by the same board, so haven't really found one yet (in better condition...). And OTOH, I'm also considering whether the super-light boards or the biggest light-wind slalom board would give me the same experience. For these last two class, I do doubt about their upwind capability in light-wind, as they lack the OFO width of the F155, as they are much more focusing on beam-reaching. Still have the F147 laying around, so as I'm get older, not sure if I want to go again that way. Guess I should give the super-light boards and the light-wind slaloms a try.

    Have also been following the foil developments which seem to delivering some serious performance in lightest of winds, so not sure they are the way to go to yet for a weekend-warrior.

    Anyway, will follow your blog further with interest!

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    1. Hi Wouter
      Thanks for the feedback and comments. You understand exactly what I am trying to get across about this particular equipment configuration. Use a smaller fin (modern, good fin from someone like Zulu or Z Fins (48 - 56) and rig a soft but fast sail (NCX or similar 7.5 or 8.0) and these old wide boards smoke in medium winds. Providing they are 85-90cm wide they are fast and so much more fun than a modern formula board. I will say more on this topic over the next few weeks - I have something in the pipeline which I think you will find interesting.
      Regards
      Phil

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  9. Hi Phil and guys,
    being i the long (more than 35 years in the water ) the fat(130kgr at times) and the light (sailing mainly in a lake with 8-13 knots being my personal hell) i have spend a lot of time and money in buying most of tee boards you mentioned. I bought the first super light from Jp and got excited at how easy and early it planed and how controllable it is but also got terribly bored from the low speed and low thrill. I had an isonic 150 for a month only to decide its to short for real light wind sailing for a heavy guy like me. Then after begging Roberto for years for a light wind board he made the x fire light wind and i got the proto and then a production one....a great boardfast (faster than many slalom boards fun toride and jibe) but still needing more wind or lighter rider and better technique than mine...(i am an x racer and a surfshop and a surf club owner) .THen having read the raving review of the falcon i bought that one but it was a dissapointment since it felt more like a racing car without the engine in light wind and felt more in place in stronger winds like the rrd ...(i really liked them more in conditions when i could be out with a slalom board and my 8,6)..IN the mean time i was lucky enough to find an old but in perfect condition AHD DIAMOND 78 which although 17 years old outperformed all others in light wind although it certainly is more demanding both physically and mentally when its rougher...So having lost all hope i built my board in 2015 which is actually so close to what you are describing...250 (i cannot fit anything bigger in my van)88 cm wide (my sail number) around 190-200 liters of volume theooretically dead flat bottom witha very slight v in the tail sharp rails and no cutouts....stiff as steel since its not only full carbon but also has a carbon stringer and it came out at 9,6 kilo with straps which was a dream...UNfortunately due to me not being Patrik or Mike a small mishap created a slight concave in the bottom which made it not so light windand it probably liked good food like me and gained 3 kilos in the year that followed...I am sure that especially in the beginning i never planed as early with the same sails but what amazed me and everyone who tried it the most is the fact that it was soooo controllable even in 20 knots ...and choppy waters. I was very happy with it till we put a new test board in the club .The Patrik Frace 140 wow!!!!!this is a magic board!!! although the volume is 140 it planes as early as my 200 liter board maybe even earlier...so i pushed and pushed Patrik and he reveiled he does have a bigger F race in mind in the hollow carbon construction....i am drooling and begging for months now and in the meantime have put both my trusted AHD and my custom board aside and been using te Frace in anything from a 10sail and 8-10 knots to a 7 and 25...i am in love with this one so fast so fun so controllable only problem we are fighting with my wife over it when its really light ...cant wait for the new f race 160.....i will keep you posted when it arrives

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  10. Hi Phil,

    Just read your post and it is bang on. I made the huge mistake to swap my F155 (the one cherished by Wouter, with whom I discussed the virtues of this light wind early Formula blaster) by a JP Superlightwind92. Agreed, it is less of a slouch, a bit nimbler, but it sticks hopelessly to the water at speed (doesn't hover over it like the F155 did), is much more technical to get on a plane (on the F155, just look whete you want to go and it will start planing in startingly light gusts) and, well, so much less fun than the F155. And it scares the hell out of me when wind conditions suddenly and unexpectedly roughen - the SLW overpowered transforms into a mean, nervous son of a b... I must admit that it performs surprisingly well with a RSS 10 meter and an "antique" Deboichet R12 64 fin. But I do regret the Starboard dino for its ease of use, mainly and exactly as you describe, for its substantial length which helps a great deal to get onto the plane without fuss, particular effort or expert technique. I simply do not understand why board brands are so headstrong as to refuse to design a board with sufficient length for early, passive planing?! These extreme short boards require a lot of finetuning and active sailing, which do complicate matters unnecessarily in (ultra) light winds. JP understood the problem when releasing the follow-ups on the SLW92 by making them longer. Still. The lack of good freerace sails with heaps of power above 10 meters is also a nice issue. Why do we have to cope with 4 or even 5 camber Formula sails when all we want is to have fun and blast in light winds? Apparently, the market for this kind of sails is so marginal that sail brands fail to see the appeal of such sails. Strange when you think that the current rave is all about planing in the lightest winds possible.

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    1. Hi Stef
      The points you make here are so common to so many readers who have commented on the blog and e-mailed me directly. I hope one or two designers listen to us.

      On the matter of easy, big sails - have a look at the Hot Sails Maui Speedfreak. This is super light and has only one cam. Very nice.

      Severne's new Turbo GT also looks quite tasty - I would only rig this foil on RDM masts.

      All the best
      Phil

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    2. Stef, are you saying that you really miss your Fanatic Super Light Wind 155 l (I guess now the 2017 model is 159 l ) That is one I seem to be zero.ing in on for a new light wind purchase. The others I'm looking at is the Goya Bolt, the Starboard Ultrasonic and the JP Super Light Wind (Although for some reason a Starboard rep was trying to tell me use the Futura instead of the Ultrasonic, which I don't understand)
      -Owen

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  11. Brilliant blog / thread..when somebody builds this board Phil I,ll buy one. Tried US,JP SLW, Futura 154/155.Various Formula and none of then fit the bill. Nearest IMO..big Carve...but it doesn't plane that early !!! Next years slw is worse ( shorter looks more technical but to be fair not tried one yet)

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  12. Ps..on sails point. Severne Turbo works for me. Twin cam, very light,powerful, easy to waterstart. If its blowing hard ( when race sails start working and passing me) I,m on wrong sail.

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  13. Hello Phil and everyone,

    First of all, congratulations for your blog! Thanks to your blog, now I know the boards I need to try before purchasing new equipment for light wind conditions.

    A while ago, I tried the following board:

    Neilpryde RS:ONE

    The following are the dimensions: (compared to ideal conditions recommended in this blog)

    Length: 300cm recommended over 245cm
    Width: 79,5 vs 90cm
    Weight: 14kg vs 8kg
    Volume: 209l vs 150l

    I tried it a few times with light winds, and while I am not an expert, this is my feedback: very easy to get some speed and start planning. Being such a long board, it was nice when planning as I really felt I could walk all over the board, it felt really stable. On the other hand, being the board that long, maneuvering the board wasn't easy. I used the Neilpride RS: One sail (7,8sqm) on a 12knots wind conditions (my weight is 82kg)

    If anyone has tried or knows this equipment, I would appreciate some feedback. I do not know how it will perform with stronger winds (up to 20 knots) or a bit choppy conditions.

    Good winds!

    Josep Maria

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  14. I have not tried theese boards, but i sail a Isonic 127 with a vapor 9.5 alot and its more fun than formula gear. I do not think a long 90cm board will have any advantage ocer a a shorter, lighter 85cm slalom if you are not really heavy.. i´m 90kg and my isonic planes as early as my formula board when using a 9.5, the formula is better upwind and in big lulls. Just one more pump on the 85cm slalom and it will be faster than the bigger boards. In really light wind i use a 54cm fin on my Isonic 127 with a 9.5.

    And when i cannot hold down my 9.5 i can go directly to a isonic 97 with a 7.9sail

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    1. Hi Unknown
      There is nothing wrong with your selection. The iSonic 127 is one hell of a board and all I can say is that for me, a longer board is better because I can use a short fin 46cm on my 85cm wide TRex. This allows me to smoke with a 6.6m E-Type sail as well as much bigger foils.
      Can't argue with you though. The 127 iSonic is one of the boards on my dream list but for a different type of sailing.
      All the best
      Phil

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  15. Good Info. I seem to be zero.ing in on for a new light wind purchase is the Fanatic 159 Light Wind. The others I'm looking at is the Goya Bolt, the Starboard Ultrasonic and the JP Super Light Wind (Although for some reason a Starboard rep was trying to tell me use the Futura instead of the Ultrasonic, which I don't understand)
    -Owen

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    1. Hi Owen
      You may want to include the RRD Lightwind board. Readers who try it have nothing but praise for the latest model.

      The Fanatic will be a good board but note the weight - they have used their heavy construction - not cool.

      I had never considered a big Goya Bolt for this, focusing on the smaller sizes but I think you could be happy with the big size - nice length imo.

      Good luck and please let us know what you finally decide and how it works for you on the water.

      Regards
      Phil

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  16. Phil,
    I came back from a 20 year break from windsurfing and bought a Starboard F147 which got trashed a subsequently a F162 which I find far less forgiving in gusts. It has different fin, so maybe that's it. I also have a Nitro IV 9.8 and a Nitro III 12m with matching Fiberspar masts. I sail on a reservoir near London, and to my surprise, 90% of the time I'm on my FB. I've been thinking a lot about getting a light wind board to replace the FB. I really like my FBs, don't find them too tricky to sail but would like something faster which is specifically designed to go backwards and forwards (reaching) rather than upwind and downward but I don't want to lose too much early planing ability. I'm a bit of a North fan (I bought all their stuff in the 90s!), when I read up the Boards review on the 2016 Warp I thought it might be good for me, and after talking to a few people about it, I bought a Warp 2016 and 490 platinum which I've not had the chance to use yet. I was very surprised that only one sponsored sailer the UK had one! All the others used a 9.0m as their max sail size. Apparently it's very powerful.

    What's your take on the difference between this and Nitro IV in a similar size?

    The sponsored sailor I bought the sail and mast from said he can get going on a slalom board in 7 knots with pumping or 10 knots without pumping and sustain at 7 knots. He's a similar weight to me. It made me wonder should I be bothering with a FB? Should I be using a large slalom board and powerful slalom sail such as a Warp instead. Or go for
    a Falcon 159 or US? I just want to blast but also in light winds too and I'm sailing on fresh water... Sadly there's not been a side by side comparison by Boards.

    Which leaves me wondering if there's a future for messing about with 12m sails on a FB if we can do the same with a foil with a 7m or 8m? Perhaps on the same large slalom board with a reinforced fin?

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  17. Hi Ben
    Firstly, my opinion on the Nitro sails - the IV and V models are fantastic and rigged on Fiberspar or Gulftech masts are comparable with anything on the water today unless you are a serious racer. The Nitro 111 is no longer competitive but in 12m it will perform satisfactorily.
    I think that we all need to be a bit cautious about spending big money on big sails until we know where foiling is going. As you say, we will be able to plane as early with a foil and a 7m sail as with a formula board and a 12m sail.
    With this in mind I would definitely look at a large slalom model before another formula board.
    You will still get going early but as soon as the wind picks up you will have access to some proper speed.
    Please e-mail me directly if you want to discuss this further. There is quite a lot to say on the topic and I don't want to take up too much space on the comments section here.
    Regards
    Phil

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  18. Hi from Nico, Venice, Italy,
    Since 2014 my lightwind planing board is a 2004 Starboard F158, 227x100, bought on sale...
    Luckily I've found it to be an EASY board for lightwind, with straps that aren't too much outboard, and I use it in Venice Lagoon with camless old Hot Stealth sails 9,5 and 8,5, but also with a 7,0 when wind pick up! And everytime with seaweed fins, the longest is a True ames Sb Weed 51/68.
    So a very freeride setup! High scoop on the bow makes riding easy even when chop increases, board is pretty lively for its size. Even having different quiver outside Venice and two other boards in Venice (Flare 107+Serenity longboard) i've already used it 14 times, I love it and I want to keep it as long as possible! Way more exciting than previous Fanatic sting Ray TT and other boards for lightwind.
    Nico and nakaniko on youtube

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    1. Hi Nico
      Your story reminds us of how much fun the old boards can still deliver. They also work fantastically with older, lighter sails as you rightly say.

      Keep enjoying your awesome kit
      All the best
      Phil

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