Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Bigger Board/Smaller Sail Initiative - Some Thoughts


I will ramble on in this post a bit so if you are not up for wading through random musings –please look away.  The post is also aimed at non-racing recreational sailors so will not be of much interest to racers and speed demons.  

My topic has to do with board shapes and plan forms.  A huge thing that I discovered when trying smaller sails on bigger boards, is the importance of the width of the back of the board.   A wide rear deck provides leverage over fin and sail of course.   When sail and fin are smaller than envisaged by the designer of that board size, the leverage over the rig is really significant.  What this allows one to do is to ride the big board into conditions you would normally change down for.  Neither the sail nor the fin was built with this extra leverage in mind so by exploiting these factors you enter unfamiliar territory for most of us.  If you allow yourself to explore this realm you can open a door to something new and exciting.
My own trials with big old formula boards and with our old Falcon 124 have been a revelation in this endeavour.  The 124 is 76cm wide and can be sailed with a 40cm fin and 6.6m soft sail.  The ride this combo gives is simply awesome.  The board is light enough to shoot onto the plane and continue to plane through lulls where the 71/110ish slaloms are falling off (even with bigger sails).  The soft sail and compliant Zulu fin tame everything down to make things easy, fast and fun.

The whole small sail big board process has caused me to decide that I no longer need a pure slalom board less than 75cm wide.  I weigh 90kg so if you want to try the concept you may go down to 71cm if your weight is less than mine.

When I am finally overpowered on the 124/6.6 combination, I easily change down by keeping the sail and clicking on the 3S 116.  If I receive a windfall from the kind folks at the lottery, my slalom board would be the iSonic 114 and the step down would be the Severne Fox 105 mentioned in the previous post – two boards for most of your sailing as long as you possess appropriate fin and sail sizes.  
The wide rear is obviously not the only factor in determining performance but it is certainly important in my view. I had been toying with the thought of getting something like a JP Supersport 125 to move away from slalom boards altogether but on comparing the rear sections of the JP with the iSonic 114, I have to say that my preference would be the iSonic

When you look at the Starboard rear strap positioning, it is clear that they are placed for maximum force against the fin.  The JP’s straps are simply too close to the centre in my opinion.  If they had maintained the width just a bit further back I may have been swayed but not this year.  Sorry JP – a pity  because I suspect that you have nailed the under shape of this new Supersport – easy, superfast, light, not too short etc.

On the new Starboards, one thing you hear from everyone who tests the iSonics is the insane wind range they are capable of sailing in.  This tells me that they are easy and confidence inspiring.  This confidence comes from comfort and control which I believe is largely due to the rear strap positioning.  A soft 6.6m sail is totally outside of what you would expect to sail on a 76.5cm wide iSonic but if you ever have the chance to try this combo  – screw in a 38cm fin and give it a go.  It may set you on a new path!

As an aside, I notice that many recent board cut-outs have become longer, thinner and pushed to the outside edge more than in prior years.
JP SSport
Severne Fox
This seems right somehow (it seems to fit with the flow of things) but I would need to do a comparison between an iSonic and one of Patrik’s boards to reach an honest opinion.

Failing that, I would really like to test Patrik’s F-Race 75 against JP’s Supersport 125.  That would tell us such a lot about so many things!

Good winds 


  1. I am also interested in a comparison with the Patrik f-race 75...I am in a comparable situation coming from a Supersport 118....

    1. Hi Joos
      Please let us know how you get on with your decision and the final results on the water.
      Another board you may want to include as an option is the RRD Firestorm Ltd 123. An awesome machine I think.
      Good luck

  2. Hi,
    just got Patric F-Race 70 120L few weeks ago, which replaced Fanatic Ray 125 and Fanatic Falcon 113 before that.
    What a amazing board it is, does everything what i except from FreeRace board, easier than Slalom board but not boring,
    bloody fast, goes upwind really well, jibes like a dream and really comfy on heavy nasty chop.
    Its the first time for me, that everything you read about the board from website, is actually all truth :D

    1. Hi Unknown

      Thanks for the feedback.

      I have always fancied the F-Races, suspecting that every size in the range will be great in its own way.

      I am happy to hear you confirming what I suspected.

      All the best