Thursday, January 5, 2017

New Equipment Cost Discussion and Local Racing Update


I will provide a link at the end of this post on which you can see some of the local racing but first some commentary following upon Joe Windsurfer’s comments about the high cost of some of the new windsurfing stuff.


I have to say that I agree with Joe on this issue - price a new windsurfing foil plus foiling board and feel your eyes water. You have an added problem with new technologies in that they are rapidly evolving so you may spend a whole lot of money only to find that what you have bought has been replaced with something way better! Your money has gone and you can’t sell your redundant stuff - a horrible situation in these difficult times.

The other thing which makes new stuff seem so costly is that we tend to compare it with stuff we already have (the old formula board + fin + two big rigs). The initial cost of all of these things happened long ago and has been forgotten. Your decision is – do I simply continue to use my old stuff in light winds (cost = Zero), or do I invest in some new thing which I may not be able to do, may not like and which is going to require me to mortgage the house and sell wife and kids into slavery. May as well stick with what I have!

Of course if you compare buying a new foiling rig with buying a complete new formula set-up, the costs are far more comparable. Furthermore, as a light wind solution, a foiling set-up is so much more practical. The board and foil are smaller than a 1m wide board plus huge masts, booms and sails. You could use two Severne Converts with your foil (maybe a 6.0m and a 6.7m) and these two sails can also be used with your Freewave board to play in the swells.

Moulded Sails

The next costly technology is the moulding of sails. Here I wonder if there are not far more cost effective options for our sport. The reason for the high costs of North’s technology is the scale to which they have had to cater. Open ocean yachting sails are massive and so is the cost of moulding them. Windsurf sails by comparison are tiny so here are some facts to consider:

  • Moulding technology is ubiquitous and very well understood across many industries.

  • We know how to make forms and we know how to mould a substrate over a form.
  • North have developed the high tech tapes which form their sail bodies. They are super-secretive about them. There are however, countless clever materials guys who could formulate comparable (and maybe even superior) tapes to use in our moulded sails.
  • Tapes can be hand applied on something as small as a windsurfing sail - no need for expensive, computerized tape heads. 
  • Modern scanners can be used to scan any windsurfing sail in 3D. Forming software is capable of converting the scan into a moulding template ready to be milled.
  • Milling machines are common

All of the above points suggest that the making of moulded windsurf sails could in theory, be done locally in small, diversified facilities at far lower cost than we are currently faced with from the big lofts. 

We are not even discussing 3D printing yet and this technology could present even more options. The big thing is that all of the dimensions for any design can be stored digitally which means they can be transmitted to any part of the world in seconds.

I’m not claiming that this approach is without problems (how do you retain talented designers if every good sail they design is going to be copied in hundreds of moulding facilities around the world, undermining the companies employing those designers?). I don’t know.

Inflatable Boards

The final thing is inflatable, high performance boards. Once again the technologies to build these things are well known. Hundreds of factories around the world make all sorts of inflatable and semi-inflatable craft. I suppose that the main things are to get:

  • the required bottom shape created accurately in carbon

  • the required rigidity around mast track, fin box and footstrap areas
  • weight reduced and strength increased to levels acceptable to finicky windsurfers 

Once you have nailed these aspects, surely any maker of inflatable and semi-inflatable craft could knock out any number of boards – no Cobra factory required!

Our Racing

Our winds have howled and the leading racers have shown unbelievable skill. Danny and Craig from Fanatic have demonstrated exactly how good the 2018 Fanatic/North kit is going to be.

I noticed Ruben Petrisie from World of Windsurf digital magazine on the beach and see that he has a whole section on their site about our racing. He has included some nice vids and the results after each day.

Here is the link to his site:

We have some of the contestants staying with us including Julien Maurel (scary good Mauritian windsurfer) and Jean de Falbaire (scary fast Mauritian kite foiler). Julien was riding an RRD prototype at Saldanha (see day 2 video) and was absolutely cooking. In one of the heats he was way ahead of the stellar field but slipped on the deck (proto’s have weak anti-slip as you can imagine) at his gybe and fell in.

Karo is holding her own in the storm conditions and her husband Charl is taking names on fast free-ride kit.

Old readers will remember Hennie (local speed sailor) and may be wondering why he is so far down the rankings. He chose not to windsurf this year and has been using the racing to test and tune his foil kite.

OK that is all for now

Good winds

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