Monday, March 20, 2017

Slalom Models of Interest in 2017

Hi

I want to say a few words about the slalom boards which are on my radar right now and give some commentary.
The three brands occupying my interest are Patrik, Starboard and Goya.

Patrik

To me, Patrik Diethelm is probably the leading expert when it comes to cut-outs.  He has spent such a huge amount of time developing, thinking and testing over the years and this, together with his drive and supreme personal talent as a fast windsurfer has produced some wonderful slalom shapes with the most effective cut-outs.
 
Very elegant

I like the two strap screw hole arrays - if you want a slightly different angle for the front foot



This year I note that Patrik has registered his standard slalom range with the PWA but also his hollow boards.  Very cool and I look forward to watching the Patrik team go.
 
I know that his Air Inside boards are not made in the Cobra factory and this leads me to worry about the ability of the other facility to produce volumes of the hollow boards.  Will they only go to team members - I wonder (?).

Starboard 

Starboard has to be at the very top of the pile with its current slalom range.  The ultra core reflex carbon versions are impossibly light and the effortless speed these things achieve over the water is awesome.  Louis, a new local sailor has bought a few of the new iSonics and just blasts and blasts.  You can’t catch him and can’t get him off the water (+Severne Reflex-8 sails + Zulu fins).
    
One very small niggle I have with the new iSonics is the number of sailors complaining about the front foot feeling light on some of the sizes (can’t keep front foot in strap).  The problem is probably not that big a deal and I’m sure that swapping fins, releasing outhaul, lowering boom etc can all be tried to remedy the problem.

Goya

Goya is a company which has never been of interest to me, catering as they did, mainly to wave and freestyle guys.  Not so long ago however, they began quietly moving into the free-ride and free-race areas of our sport.  Now, with the new Proton Pro slalom board they have ended up with a formidable board and sail range.
Proton Pro

  
Being wave guys, they have adopted a slightly left field approach (no cammed sails, 6 batten maximum in their fastest Mark sail, extra long free-ride board shapes etc) and I have to say I’m a total convert.
  
Read the reviews on their Bolt free-race board – light fast comfortable and beautifully built.  The new Proton slalom boards also tick all the boxes but in addition have re-inforced skeg boxes suitable for foiling.  How intelligent is that!
(Severne - take note - the big Fox should have one of these!)



Incidentally, when you look at their other kit you understand that these guys are serious:

Ultra light masts – tick
Ultralight, carbon booms – tick
Ultra slim carbon booms – tick
Proper mast extensions - tick
etc

They have (at the time of this post) only one slalom racer in the PWA this year and I will be watching him and the Protons with interest.

That’s all for now.  I will write about foiling in the next post.

Talk to you soon  

Monday, February 20, 2017

Some Reader/Rider Feedback

Hi

Here is some feedback from readers and riders and a small rant to end off with.

·      Joos has acquired two Zulu fins for his Severne Fox 105.  In strong winds last week he sailed the board with the new 34cm fin and his 6.0m NCX.  He tells me that the fin has turned the board into a perfect high wind blaster.  Carbon fettled by Robbie shows its class once again.  

   The standard Fox fin is good but is also really powerful.  Severne say the board (105) will take sails up to 7.8m and I believe them.  The G10 fin will hold a 7.8m sail with no trouble whatsoever.  The problem you have comes with a smaller sail in strong winds.  The same fin can boss you around badly.  Robbie’s 34cm fin is exactly what the doctor ordered – fast, easy and rock steady in rough conditions.

·      I reported on Severne’s new race mast in the previous post and I stated that the new masts were lighter than the outgoing model.  Well quite a few of you e-mailed me to correct this.  Most of the new sizes are lighter but the 490 Apex-pro is actually a bit heavier than the outgoing 490. Sorry – I did not look properly.

·      Eric Kamminga from the Netherlands is an old member of this site.  I recall that he joined up when all of 10 people had signed on.  Anyway we have had many discussions over the years, wrestling with equipment options and choices.

    Eric tells me that he has opened a windsurfing shop in Roden.  If you are a Dutch reader living near Roden and need some assistance, please drop in on Eric.  He is a kindred spirit and his shop offers some nice brands.  He can also arrange repairs if required.   

    Eric's shop is in Kanaalstraat, (a common street name in Holland I imagine).  His website is : www.surf-store.nl

·      Martin Cross queried why the Starboard Kode Freewave was not included in my list of recommended blasting boards.  I have to acknowledge that this board would easily hold its own against anything recommended (just read the reviews – it is one fantastic machine) but I exclude it because its centre fin slot has a US box.  This means that I would be unable to use any of my precious power box fins.  I am also a little unsure of the stability of a US fin under extreme loading.

    If your free-riding is more wave-orientated and your stance more upright, then you should absolutely consider a Kode.  It is invariably the test favorite in reviews and as Martin pointed out, quite a few fast fins are now available with US heads.



In the vein of the last point, I want to express some unhappiness with certain brands within our industry.  I use Severne in this example but other manufacturers make the same mistake from time to time.

The example on my mind right now is the new Severne Fox.  The Fox line represents a landmark in free-ride/free-race board design in my opinion – a really important board.  The biggest Fox is 140l/78cm wide – a light wind rocket.  Note that its weight is the same as the 70cm model.  So far so good!


    
My problem is the fin box.  Severne give us a power box in this Fox size.  

Most buyers of this board are going to be old sailors with good technical abilities.  Such people will have their own fin quivers and such quivers will almost certainly include one or two good 44cm(ish) fins with deep Tuttle heads.

One of the first things one would want to do on purchasing a Fox 140, would be to try it with a variety of fins.  Why on earth would Severne offer such a board with a power box?  No-one has aftermarket 44cm fins with power-box heads.
 
Buy a big Fox but you can only use the standard fin!  Why punish your target market in this way?   The big Fox should be offered with deep Tuttle box in my opinion.  The board’s class and potential are on a level with any good (or even really high end) fin.

Ok – that’s all for now


Good winds                                                         

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Patrik Slalom 100.


Hi



I rode a Patrik Slalom 10011 the other day and will give some impressions and thoughts about this board.



Erik Beale recently spent some time here, testing fins. He stayed with Joos to be close to the water and to have access to a workshop. He also borrowed a few Patrik boards for his assignment.

Well, Erik has returned to Maui leaving the borrowed boards with Joos – an opportunity for some testing I think. I have been thinking about Patrik’s slalom boards recently and have wanted to ride one or two to get an idea of their characteristics.

On this particular day, I was already rigged on the beach with my own stuff and the wind was building rapidly. Joos arrived at the beach and I asked him for a quick ride on the Patrik 100 slalom in his care. He kindly agreed so I screwed in one of my old slalom fins, ran down to the beach, clicked my E-Type 6.6 on and set off ahead of the approaching storm.

Despite the strap positions being totally wrong for me (speed guys have their own way of setting up!) and my fin not being good enough, the board performed fantastically. It is so settled over rough water, fast, comfortable and controllable.

I was only able to hang on for three runs, going from totally over-powered to “I think I am going to die now”. This is unfortunate because I would have liked the time to re-position the straps and find a better fin. A board of this class warrants proper ancillary equipment and a balanced set-up.

After my short ride I got to wondering about whether it would be possible to use the 100 as a fast freeride/B&J machine. It is:
  • easy
  • forgiving
  • confidence inspiring, allowing you to really push on in heavy conditions
  • perfect with free-ride sails
  • etc
In short, everything we look for in a fast, blasting board.

If I ever acquired one, I would be tempted to have a slightly inboard set of foot-strap holes professionally inserted, one or two high end carbon fins (Zulu Umbani for example) and I would also add a fast free-ride fin (Tribal Powermax 34) into the mix.
This equipment selection would allow for:
  • hectic B&J sailing
  • fast free-ride blasting
  • pure slalom racing
Simply vary fin/sail combos and foot-strap positions.

All of the above options from one board!

Bargain!


Good winds

Friday, January 27, 2017

New Severne Masts on Site

Hi

Just a very short note to mention that Severne's new masts are on their site.  The new Red RDM masts are even lighter than the outgoing model and now include a 460 length.  This is a good thing in my opinion, giving us the option to rig big freeride sizes on thin masts.

The new Apex Pro race mast is also lighter than the outgoing model and promises to be something special.  I have not used one yet but will keep an eye on Karo's quiver and scrounge a ride if she gets one in a new Reflex 8.

Those of you who examine and compare sail weights as I do, will have noticed that the new TURBO_GT weights have been missing (for a long time now!) from the 2017 specs.
Here are the new TURBO weights for those of you who may be interested and have been frustrated by the TBA entries in the weight column :


2017 Turbo-GT Weights
   Size       Kg  
    5.5       3.5
    6.0       3.6
    6.5       3.8
    7.0       4.4
    7.5       4.7
    8.1       4.8
    8.6       5.0
    9.2       5.2

That is all for now - talk to you soon

Thursday, January 12, 2017

A Suggested Short List of Rough Water, High Speed Boards

Hi

Before I get into the topic I must mention that this blog has been numbered in the top 10 windsurfing blogs by a crowd called blogfeedspot.  

This is not all that significant to me and is probably less so to you.  I’m not sure of the metrics used to evaluate the blogs selected.  

All that aside, I notice some really good sites on their list.  Please have a look at them on the following link:


You will note that some of the blogs are fully on Facebook and Twitter (unlike this one) and all of them have valuable windsurfing related content of one form or another.  Enjoy!

Anyway – to the topic of the day:

If your sailing conditions are anything like ours you will experience some days where slalom sailing is appropriate and great fun.  You will also have many days where bump & jump kit is far more suitable due to choppy water and strong winds.

With this in mind, I have been thinking about a short list of non-slalom boards on the market right now which are fast, fun and controllable.

I have chosen two sizes of board – a 70ish wide range and a 65ish wide range.  I further split these sizes into free-race models and free-ride shapes.

Here are the boards I would include in any short list for this type of board.
 
First, the pure B&J schedules:


   
The Fox and Blast boards have been discussed on these pages many times.  I have never ridden an AtomiQ but the styling of the thing convinces me that it is pretty special.
 
The RRD FreestyleWave (V3 – not the latest one) has always been on my radar and pushed, I would probably pick this board from the line-up.  The latest FSW v4 does not appeal.  They have shortened it and it seems far wavier to me.  Give me the old one any day.  Incidentally Tabou have done exactly the same thing with the latest 3S line.
 
The Exocet Cross must be one of the best rough water boards in existence.  Their designs have some weird kind of magic in them so if you ever have a chance to try one, jump at it.  You may never buy from another windsurfing brand again.  You have been warned.

Here is the second schedule.  This is for speed merchants who need some comfort and control:



You will note that the Fox falls into both B&J and Free-race categories.  I have ridden Joos’s Fox twice now, the second time in perfect conditions.  This board is unlike anything I have ridden before (fantastic directional stability, eye watering speed, comfort over chop and a complete star through gybes).  It fits comfortably into both camps – you would only need to change fins.  

The Fox is possibly a bit too business-like for me.  I need something slightly more laid back and a little more old school.  Having said that - offer me a Fox for a good price and I’ll bite your hand off.

Look at the insane weights on the Futuras.  I also like the large width of the smaller Futura - 97 Litres and 67cm wide!  This indicates that it is a flat board and therefore endowed with good control.  Nice!
 
Given the above options, my ideal board quiver would be:
·      iSonic 117
·      One of the 65ish boards above.  Can’t decide which!
·      A Fanatic Freewave 96l/61cm wide (Textreme from 2015)

The last board I like because it would give me the opportunity to use 3 fins in the swells to play but also to close the side-slots, fit a fast fin into the power-box, and blast in strong winds.  It has a centre back strap but also screw holes for four outboard straps for blasting.  Very nice!

That’s all for now.  I may give you my idea of my ideal sail quiver to go with the above boards.  I don’t want to bore you however so I need to consider whether or not to do this.

All the best
   
              


Thursday, January 5, 2017

New Equipment Cost Discussion and Local Racing Update



Hi

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.

Foiling

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:

http://www.worldofwindsurf.com/

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
















Monday, January 2, 2017

Local Racing and some New Equipment

Hi


I know I said that I would be discussing the costs of some of the new technologies but this needs some quiet thought and there is too much going on right now.  We have racing on our lagoon and some high powered internationals have turned up.

The racing is to begin today and our winds promise to be ballistic.  Not so good for the free-sailors and to be frank, not so good for the racers either.  Anyway we will see how the top guys handle the wildness.
 
Joos finally got his hands on a Severne Fox 105 board which he is considering buying.  I clipped my North E-Type 6.6 onto the board and took it for a spin in light, squirrelly wind/ demon chop.  I planed all the way out and all the way back but was scratching at times.  Not ideal conditions then, but what a machine!  When powered up the board is absolutely composed regardless of chop levels.  Good speed is reached quickly and easily.  The front of the board cuts through the chop and the back seems to dissipate any remaining bumpiness giving a totally settled ride.  Gybing is super easy as I suspected it would be.   The standard Fox fin is great.  I would invest in one or two smaller sizes for overpowered sailing but as your main fin, the G10 36cm blade supplied is excellent and bound to become a close friend in time.

Joos asked my opinion as to whether he should buy the Fox.  Yes, yes, yes!  I would buy this board in a heart-beat.  It seems to have been made specifically with our local conditions in mind.  Even with my weight being more than that of Joos, I would still opt for the 65cm wide size.
   
If I were ever to buy a Fox 105, my ideal medium wind board would then be an iSonic 117 (light version of course) and between these two boards I could cover most of my sailing (with a few sails and fins of course).  For the time being I would hold onto our T-Rex and Bic FW 1.3 for the really light stuff but keep a keen eye on all the latest developments in foiling which I am convinced will become the light wind solution of choice for all of us.

Raffi from Surf n Curve (Severne agent) is here for the racing and brought the new Severne Reflex-8 sails and an exciting new range of Severne racing masts.  These are the Apex Pro line and promise to be something very special.  They are SDM at the base with a slim, whippy top section.  This is not a new concept of course but Severne seems to have taken it to new levels.  The slim top softens the sail but has super quick recovery rates so you have some softness without losing any stability.  Please look out for these sticks if you are serious about slalom racing in 2017.

Erik Beale was out on the water yesterday hitting speeds of 38k on slalom equipment.  He had a really interesting slalom fin proto-type on the slalom board.  I will not describe the shape to you in case it is secret but this is not a slow fin!  When he was done on the slalom stuff, Erik took out his speed board (Patrik on Gasoil fin) for some “proper speed”.  I don’t think I have ever seen anyone going as fast across our launching beach before.  Civilians were frightened!


OK, I think that Ellie and I will make our way down to the beach to watch the racing. The skipper’s meeting was scheduled for 09:00 but knowing windsurfers as I do I am willing to bet that nothing will happen until mid-day. We may rig some freeride kit, have a short blast and maybe sail alongside the racers to get an idea of their speed.



Talk to you soon