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Windsurfing is still "cool" :-)

Last month my oldest daughter was going to OKA park, specifically the beach, with some friends of hers. I suggested she speak to me before parting, as i have a season's pass. I gave her the pass for parking the car and another for one adult admission to the park. Her friends included a couple of macho guys, whom she had not met before. The passes became a subject of conversation. "Why would your dad have a season's pass to OKA park?" My funny answer would be that i went to the nude beach regularly :-) This is a well known secret of the park - and i have as yet to stumble upon it :-)

So the dudes were informed that Mary's father regularly went to OKA park to do windsurfing. The dudes were like, " Your dad windsurfs?" So now my daughter's female friend in the car saw where this was going :-) "Yeah, and he doesn't just windsurf in the summer, butt he also windsurfs in the winter on the ice!" Apparently the jaws started to drop. The female friend knew she was on a roll and could not hold back. "And you know what they got him for Christmas? Tickets to see Rammstein !" That was just too much for the dudes. "Man, I gotta meet your father !!" "He's gotta show me some of this stuff."

All this is just to say - "Windsurfing is still cool !"

Now, that is obviously NOT the reason some of us, like myself do this sport. In the past I have used such old boards so as to get comments from fellow windsurfers, "Thought that was a whale on your car with that black fin :-) " Even that was not bothersome. What disturbs me is that there are fewer and fewer young local folks getting into the sport. Today's world is about quick thrills - windsurfing takes too much time to learn, space to store and move, etc, etc. Maybe the inflatable SUPs will help ?? At least kites are bringing them TO the water. Since this is SO dangerous, perhaps once hooked and then banned, these folk will come over to the windsurf world ?

and here is a video Denis Dagenais suggested to me that shows even old Windsurfer boards n sails are still coooool :-)

 

"Free" Shortboards 117 to 170 liters

This seems to cover MOST of the boards used by average joes like myself. How does one differeniate amongst the different types and choose a board for one's skills, area, etc ...

Formula boards are 100 cm wide and do up and down wind runs
FreeFormula are typically 85 to 95 cm wide and less up and down wind oriented.

Before we continue … what about Fanatic Viper 85 ?
Firstly it has a centreboard and is labeled a “Funboard”
This means for me a beginner FreeRide board, but may be classed as a longboard due to daggerboard.
OK, what about Tinho Dornellas’ Z2 custom board ?
Can call it a freeride since it is “only” 84 cm wide:-)
Freestyle, wave and bump n jump are typically less than 117 liters …

The reason I started this discussion actually is the same subject as at this link: freeride vs. freerace vs. slalom: http://boards.mpora.com/equipment-tests/tested-equipment/group-test/freeride-freerace-slalom-april-09.html


The interesting thing to me is: the categories seem to be based on performance – in the same order listed – namely freeride, then freerace and finally slalom.
The freeride is considered the less “technically demanding”. However, in the article they state that with today’s boards, an advanced or intermediate rider can ride any and all of these boards. The riders may not be able to get every last knot of speed out of the boards, but the boards have all become more user-friendly …

Some examples:

Freeride: Tabou Rocket, Mistral Screamer, SB Carve, AHD FF, Fanatic Shark/Hawk, RRD Fire Ride/Storm, JP X-Cite Ride

http://www.freeride-attitude.com/tabou-rocket-2009,8098.html
Freerace: Fanatic Ray,  JP Supersport, SB Futura,  AHD Freerace, RRD Fire Race

seabreeze advert

Slalom: Exocet Warp, Mistral SL, SB iSonic, AHD SL, Fanatic Slalom, RRD X-Fire,   JP Slalom

http://www.winds-up.com/petites-annonces-gratuites-5525-exocet-warp-105-l.html
FreeFormula: BIC Techno Formula, SB Ultrasonic, JP SuperLightWind

This is my BIC Techno Formula - NOT made any more


Formula: Starboard, JP, Exocet


Funboards:  NOT to say the previous categories are not fun – this is a beginner type category that often performs just fine …

pic from Fanatic

Where the line becomes difficult to draw – for me – is the freeride, freerace and slalom categories. People say “it all comes down to speed and performance”. Top speed, acceleration, and early planing ALL come into play and have different weights depending on the race being held. Obviously sailor skills are a given !! Some experts can ride anything anywhere !!!

How can I categorize these boards by just looking at them  ?? carefully analyzing – I imagine .. Let’s see if I can find some technical details …

In these articles they speak about vee, tuck and rails. The slalom boards are meant for speed at the PWA and are aimed at guys over 100 kilos that are solid muscle. The boards are light, stiff, fragile and “difficult” to jibe/gybe. They are not really made for mere mortals like us. The freerace on the other hand are just a little less fragile and yet are based on these speed machines. Some say freerace is toned down slalom for the mortals that are not necessarily racing professionally !! Also, slalom boards are designed with race sails in mind. The freerace on the other hand work well with freerace or even good RAF sails…again – more forgiving …

http://www.boardseekermag.com/windsurfing-equipment-tests/2011/110-freeride-intro-2011.html

http://boardtests.com/freeride-boards/

Here is a small table i filled to try and differentiate between the types:


Freeride
Freerace
Slalom
Fast Faster Fastest
Expensive More expensive Most expensive
Somewhat fragile More fragile FRAGILE
Most user friendly Require some skills NEED skills to get most out of the board
Almost any sails Freerace sails Race sails
Not too stiff a ride Stiffer ride STIFF ride

And THEN just as I think I am getting the hang of all these terms … RRD came out with a board called the FireMove which is now classed as a FreeMove. The 140 liter model is 90 cm wide and 238 cm long. Now this sounds like a smaller FreeFormula to me :-)  Butt it is NOT. It has a much smaller tail and flat bottom to make it almost slalom like with a VEE to help in chop …What are newbies gonna think now ? Sounds like windsurfing is FREE :-) People are saying freemove is a faster, earlier planing Bump&Jump/FreeStyle-Wave board. The following is a pic of the FreeMove from the RRD site. So, how do i know it is a freemove ? by vee, tuck n rail ? {no not f'n rail :-) } Even liters seem to be less of an indicator. RRD and Dave White are saying this board is as 8 to 9 liters more than indicated ...SB used to be less than indicated ...



In 2013 Fanatic released the Gecko which is to compete with the RRD FireMove. The  135 liter version is 83 cm wide and is to support sails of 7-oh to 10-oh with a 46 cm fin. I use a 48 cm for sails of about 8.5 on a 160 liter freeride board.  So, this board works like a much larger board. One comment i read somewhere made me laugh. Person stated the wider board may feel larger, butt a 105 liter sinker will still be a sinker :-)

This FreeMove thingie seems to be catching on ... I did a verification in 2014 to see who else is getting on the "band wagon". Now they are saying the following boards are in this group as well: Mistral Synchro, Exocet Xcross, Simmer Freemove {never saw a Simmer BOARD} and Lorch Glider {never saw a Lorch, but have heard of this as a board brand out of Europe - especially longboards} + F2 XTC ?? {thought they were gone or purchased ??} Actually F2 XTC was from around 2008 !! And so , this freemove thingie is NOT so new - after all. This report from 2008 discusses the free boards and mentions the move back then already --> http://boards.mpora.com/equipment-tests/tested-equipment/freeride-test/freeride-board-test-oct-2008.html

The local windsurf shop called auventfou {translated means in crazy winds} has summarized these categories in their recent local circular using maneuverability versus speed with movement on the left and race on the right.

WAVE === FREESTYLE-WAVE === (FREEMOVE) FREERIDE (FREERACE) === SLALOM
<------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------>
maneuverability                                                                                                speed           

Here is the Wind Junkie/Spennie take on these "free" boards :-)  No sale here !!



Wide Luff vs Free-Race Sails


In case you did not know ... The luff is often referred as the height of the sail i.e. from mast base to the tip of the sail.. The sleeve for the mast when wide is termed wide luff as compared to a free-race sail which has less cambers and a narrower sleeve. This is not so obvious in the photo.

 

I am a MauiSails fan and have been ever since I started shortboarding with these sails in 2008. At that time I purchased RAF {Rotating Asymmetric Foil} sail, a 2007 MS Pursuit 8.5 with no cambers. As a heavyweight, not long after that I purchased a barely used TR-4 10-oh - wide luff with 4 cambers. When I replaced the RAF, I purchased a used MS-2 8-oh, which is a free-race narrow luff sail with 2 cambers. I also have an older Gaastra Flow 3X 7-oh which has three(3) cambers... As you can see, and may know already, wide luff and free-race sails have cambers, which lock the shape in. So, no need to discuss the pros n cons of cambers cuz they all have 'em.

The only thing I will say is: I see NO reason to have cambers in sails under 7.x unless you are a racer.

Let's start with a discussion on wide luff race sails ...

WIDE LUFF SAILS


TR-5 and TR-5xt rigging guide from MauiSails.com on Vimeo.
  
     
PROS CONS

- very stable
- weight - dry and wet
- handles BIG wind range 
- wide luff can fill with water and become heavy
- NO crinkles                                                 - 100% carbon mast usually recommended = $$$
- easier to rig and de-rig - personal opinion as compared to free-race sails - cambers do not always rotate and pop into place when flipping the sail - especially with less outhaul and if you forgot to use wet lubricants like McLube or SailKote
- no need to tape mast pieces together

FREE-RACE SAILS


MauiSails Titan rigging guide from MauiSails.com on Vimeo.



PROS CONS

-lighter and thus less physically demanding + easier to pump
- rigging causes crinkles
- very easy camber rotation
- slightly less wind range              
- easier to beach and water start                                                                              
- no need for more than 75% carbon mast       


What about other comparisons on the water ?? This is more difficult for me to compare since my sails are used in different ranges and on different boards ..

This is where Paul's analysis comes in :-) Paul from Connecticut sold me my TR-4 10-oh with matching MS mast 520/100. He is a MauiSails fan as well and has used many more sails than I have.

Paul has sailed over the years (wide and narrow sleeves) the TR-4 10.0, TR-5xt 11.0, TR-5xt 8.4, TR-4xt 9.2, TR-7 9.2, MS-2 10.0, Blaze 9.0, and Retros (including 10.0 and 10.5’s) all on formula boards and freeformula boards (90-100cm wide) with their correct recommended masts.

Paul’s weight has varied from 169 to 182 pounds over the years on these kits.  His first conclusion is that there ARE trade offs from one kit to another.  Trade off’s in low wind planing, wind range, comfort and fun when choosing an 8.4 or a 11.0.  PauI doesn’t race and all his sailing is recreational.  Racing is against buddies as they head out and back (so speed is important but not at the expense of comfort/fun).

His current weight is 170 pounds = about 77 kilos.  Weight has a lot to do with what kit you choose and early planing.  Sailing skills and pumping skills help a lot with early planing.  The blaze 9.0 is much easier to pump onto plane for Paul than the TR-x sails (including 8.4 through 11.0) at his skill level.  The larger the sail, the heavier the sail, the physically harder it is for anyone to pump onto a plane.  The Blaze 9.0 and TR-7 9.2 seem to have similar low end power.  However, he can pump the Blaze with a lot less effort than the TR.  Unless it is super windy, Paul has more fun with the Blaze (less physical).  Once planing, both sails carry through the lulls pretty evenly.

Paul says, “I like not having the weight and wide luff sleeves of the racing sails.  However, I love the range and feel of the racing sails when fully powered up the best.  I prefer the 9.2 TR over the 10.0 TR for my weight.  The range of the 9.2 TR get’s me to where I could drop to a 6.5 with some simple tuning.  The 10.0 planes me easier than the 9.2 but gets more physical for my weight as the wind comes up.  I would prefer to lose very little on the low side (I pump the 9.2 better than the 10.0) for a more comfortable sailing experience as the wind increases.  However, when I was 185 pounds, I preferred the 10.0 to the 9.2 for the lighter days (unless it was super gusty.  Then I choose the 9.2 over the 10.0).”

The 11.0 and 10.0 sails on the formula boards plane up more quickly for Paul than the 9.0 Blaze on the JP SLW {SuperLightWind}.  Not that much however.  If there are steady winds from 8-14 (steady 8, gusting to 14), Paul can plane any of these kits.  Has to pump the Blaze up while the 11.0/10.0 would plane with less pumping but all would hold a plane in these winds.  The 11.0 would carry through lulls that the 9.0 would fall off plane.  However, sailing the 11.0 is more tiring than sailing the 9.0.  The days when the 11.0 would plane and the 9.0 will not are pretty light wind days.

There are many variables for the individual sailor - namely skill, weight and typical conditions that make the comparisons from one person to another invalid or difficult.
People talk about 12 knots of wind to get planing.  What does 12 knots mean without some explanation?  Is 12 knots the average?  Is it gusting from 2-18 with a 12 knot average?  Is it 10-14?  Is it 8-16?  Makes a big difference in what you choose to sail with.
The above discussion shows that Paul has had the opportunity to test many sails with many boards in varying conditions. For me it is much simpler:

Anything under 10 mph is just too light and inconsistent.
Over 10 mph and stay under 16 – BIC Techno Formula with TR-4 10-oh and 58 cm True Ames SB weed
Over 16 mph or 14 knots and stay under 20 – AHD 160 with MS-2 8-oh and 48 cm slalom or weed fin
Over 20 + stay under 25 – Gaastra Flow 3X 7-oh with AHD 160 or Fanatic BEE LTD 124 - 40 cm slalom or weed fin
Over 25 – Fanatic BEE LTD 124 with HSM 6.3 – 40 cm slalom fin – my skills are NOT ready for this ...

The whole reason I started this discussion is:
The MS-2 8-oh develops crinkles and looks like it may not last long.
This is misleading since there is an extra layer of material in the impacted area..

What about other options like no monofilm to reduce crinkles, etc, etc …

As a matter of fact, a fellow I sail with at OKA, Georges, swears by his Severne Gator 9-oh. He uses this on his StarBoard Carve 122 in light winds. This sail has NO cambers, NO monofilm and is labelled as very manoeuverable. So, it all comes down to personal choice – based on MANY factors !! {body weight, strength, skills, typical conditions, personal preference, etc.}

As John Ingebritsen on iwindsurf forums suggests: trial as much stuff as you can !!

Yet mpora/boardseeker says:
Ability: It’s not actually a question of being ‘good enough’ to sail a race sail, it’s more about being good enough to get the benefit from it. And, being brutally honest, most people aren’t. You need to sail 1-2m bigger than you would choose in another style of sail, a dedicated board and fin designed to cope with the sail, and the skills to pin it down and hold the power at the limit of control. If you aren’t confident about this, then you will almost certainly get more performance from a twin-cam.
http://www.boardseekermag.com/windsurfing-equipment-tests/2011/7m-sails-intro-2011.html

GOOD LUCK CHOOSING ...

For me in the end it all comes down to dollars and sense. A MauiSails TR-x 8.4 race sail with wide luff requires a 460 cm mast that I donut have and many people strongly suggest a 100% carbon mast for this combo. An MS Blaze 8.0 will fit on my current 490 mast.

So, I will use my current MS-2 8-oh free-race sail until it dies. Then it will be an older year/model MS-2, Titan or Blaze to replace it.

2014 update: the MS-2 died for a number of reasons -  the monofilm was punctured during sailboarding on snow and the battens kept breaking. Ironically I found a TR-6 8.4 at a reasonable price in 2013. I have used this on the Mistral Equipe I , the snow sailboard and the AHD FF 160. As with the 10-oh , if winds are steady and not too light, the sail works great. I still preferred the MS-2 with NO cambers on the longboard, but CANNOT be used in the winter on ice n snow. And so, I may end up with a longboard sail. Geoff, who is an avid fan of HSM/Hot Sails Maui has convinced me to look at those sails. They are dacron, and VERY durable, but all designed to go on RDM masts - even the larger sizes. With over 100 kilos, I prefer SDM in the larger sails. We will see - time will tell ...