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MY Windsurf Board Categories

Got the idea to start this post since I confused people on iwindsurf using the term "FreeFormula" for my JP SLW. I based this on the early SB FreeFormula boards, but it seems there NEVER was such a class or category of boards except on Wikipedia under windsurfing and on my blog.

Humans like to categorize and put things in little boxes - just look at how biology handles phylum, class, family, genus, species. The issue is , it is NOT always easy to make everything fit into the little boxes. Like language, there are always exceptions ...

gregnw44 from iwindsurf suggests... to keep it simple

The  best broad category... keeping it simple... is the 3 board classification -

Longboards - over 10' and with a centerboard.
Shortboards - 10' and under without a centerboard.
Hybrids -  10' and under with a centerboard.

Once upon a time there were ONLY longboards. That was how Robbie Naish got started and yes, it came from the USA and especially Hawaii. Eventually someone stuck a sail on shorter surf board and the idea of shortboards was born...

So, how many categories of board do I have now ?? {yes, this is MY classification}
And so, here is the discussion/breakdown  ... please feel free to comment 

1) Longboard - obviously LONG, typically more than 300 cm/10 feet with a centreboard. They are also narrow (usually less than 70 cm) with shape on the bottom to allow for gliding in light winds. Also due to length, these are boards over 200 liters in volume. People still sail Division I boards like the BIC Dufour Wing ; the original Windsurfer and Division II / DIV II boards like the Lechners. There are few producers of longboards today and they are quite pricey. The current longboards are considered race ready - like the StarBoard Phantom 377 and Exocet 380. In light winds - they WIN...

Lots of straps

People are saying boards like the Kona One (which has its own race class) is considered a longboard. I did consider it a hybrid, but am ready to leave it here (after much consideration :-))


2) Formula - typically 100 cm wide and is an ISAF race class. Typically raced with sails larger than 10 m². They are shorter than one might expect for a board capable of going in lighter winds and often carry fins up to 70 cm long. The faster boards of these days all seem to have tail cutouts ...
Starboard seems to be the one to beat in this category. Considered to be the first to plane and often called upwind/downwind race. People who have em seem to race em. After a certain wind speed they beat the longboards. The outboard straps are not obvious for everyone.


3) Hybrids/One Design - by definition a hybrid is some kind of mix of two elements. People are saying hybrids are under 10 feet and have a centreboard like a Mistral Prodigy or a NP RS:X. This is the Olympic board and some are suggesting other boards for the Olympics ...

I included One Design here because they are also special animals typically used for racing. I do NOT include the original Windsurfer called Windsurfer One Design/WOD here. Here is the BIC OD.


BEFORE I begin discussing SHORTBOARDS, please realize I have also separated  a bunch of boards that I call specialized boards - they are NOT longboards, hybrids, formula nor your typical shortboard. I have put them at the end of this discussion...in their own category ...

4) SHORTBOARDS - as gregnw44 states these are shorter boards with NO centreboard. It is VERY large category ... One speaks of freeride, freerace, slalom, wave, freewave, freemove, freestyle etc ....

4a) FreeRide - these are the everyday boards for the average joe windsurfers in average conditions. This usually means fairly flat water with a decent volume like 100 to 160 liters and people going back n forth "mowing the lawn" = BAFFers. User friendly boards using no-cam user friendly sails ...
They were typically longer and narrower than the FreeMove boards that came later. Please remember that the only board so far with a centreboard is still the longboard class/category ... and the following board is no longer manufactured 


4b) FreeRace - aimed a little more at speed than the FreeRide and as such are often used with cambered FreeRace sails. Not quite as race dedicated as a slalom, but often based on them !! More "technical" than say a FreeRide and not quite so on the edge like a slalom board.


4c) Slalom - these boards are built for "blistering speed" and as such are often short and wide. Can you say FAST - which means "technically demanding" , light and stiff, but probably damaged easily. Big slalom boards also perform well in light winds. Again, after a certain wind speed they will beat longboards and apparently beat Formula on a reach. Let the race begin !! GPS time and defintely have cut-outs...


4d) Wave - the previous boards were about gliding and going fast. Wave boards are about maneuverability in sometimes tough conditions. The boards are wider now than they used to be, but sails and fins are still small. Boards have more rocker or "banana shape" in the bottom. Nowadays these boards have quad fins and different fin attachments. Guess bump and jump fits in this category too.


4e) FreeWave - this is a class or category i know least about. I assume this is the FSW or Free-Style Wave class/category and as such is a cross-over or hybrid as well ?? In any case, it seems to be a popular class of board at the moment that is supposed to do everything well. That means flat water, freestyle and some wave. Under 120 liters with somewhat more width and flatter rocker than a wave board.


4f) FreeMove - this category seems to have started in 2010 with the Starboard AtomIQ. Others rapidly followed suit and Fanatic actually abandoned the infamous Shark freeride in 2015 !! Marketing says these boards plane up like a board 10 to 15 more liters AND sail like a board 10 to 15 liters less !! They are wider, thinner and smaller tailed than the traditional freeride boards. Locally I mostly see the Gecko from Fanatic ...


4g) FreeStyle - this used to and is still performed on "older" longboards. These tricks are not quite the same as what is performed on the newer freestyle boards. I call it performed because I find it is all about the show. Few windsurf categories are capable of going close to shore and putting on a good show - NOT the case with this group ... They are in the air with flips, turns, aerials and have names for their maneuvers - Vulcan, Spock, Flaka, etc


and thus, I have broken the shortboard category down into seven(7) sub-categories or classes of shortboard, as I like to call them :-) For the average joe windsurfer living in the average wind area, it may occur that NONE of the shortboards are ideal for those circumstances. However, it is always fun to be prepared for those special days when the stars and the winds align themselves :-) And this brings me to a special category of windsurf/sail boards that I like to call ...

5) SPECIALIZED boards - is where I put those boards that do not fit well into anything described above - they are used in certain circumstances like speed boards !!

There are pecialized  boards like the Exocet RSD2 which is considered a raceboard where the nose looks like a DIV II and the tail is flat for planing...


5a) Speed - these are specialty boards that try to break World Records. There is even a special channel where these attempts are performed - Luderitz , SW Africa. It is extremely windy and waves are blocked. Last I read AA/Antoine Albeau attained 53 knots in 2015 (which is about 60 mph and 100 kph which was his goal to beat!!) Definitely GPS time ...


5b) Tandem - as the name implies, for more than one person and rarely more than two. One would think this would be great for training ... However, it is NOT the same as sailing alone on a board and it is NOT always light wind performance - check the pic !!


And check the longest windsurf board in the world - figures Coca Cola would get in on the action !!


5c) Beginner - perhaps this should have been the first category so as to NOT discourage the newbies?
Obviously the size of the board and sail must match the size of the sailor. If it is a child, they now have beginner boards and sails !!!
for the adults ... Wide , long , lots of volume and with a centreboard seems to be the solution.
Personally feel the centreboard is just to get you home and may not always be required. My BIC Techno Formula worked for all newbies under 200 pounds. This board was wide and long, but was only about 170 liters. For the heavyweights it seems over 200 liters is required based on what i have seen. However, i suggest renting or lessons since this may not be required LONG TIME
That is whay i prefer longboards or used big freerides - not too $$$ and may be kept a longtime
NOT as easy to get started though ....
If you persevere with a larger freeride , you can sell it
My AHD FF 160liters/79cm board sold in 5 hours and the BIC Techno Formula in 2 days.
The Fanatic Viper is a well known "beginner" board and yet is still "performant"...
FunBoards ??


5c) WindSUP - obviously a SUP/Stand Up Paddle board with windsurf capabilities which for me is a hybrid in the sense it is used as a SUP and a windsurf board... and some like in the image are inflatable ...


5d) Hydrofoil - does this really require a different board ? AHD made or makes a board with the foil


5e) SuperLightWind/FreeWide - this may or may NOT be a category or subclass, but it seems there should be one for the boards that are > 80 cm and < 100 cm wide plus early planing. I still like the name "FreeFormula" - as a FreeRide that is so wide that it is almost a Formula. They are known for VERY early planing with BIG sails and long fins. NOT so up n down wind like a Formula.


5f) Inflatables - Starboard AirPlane came out in 2016.




And we wonder why someone new to the sport is confused - we, as windsurfers are confused. Where does a newbie start ?? Boards are large, expensive and windsurfing seems to require many boards (and sails) depending on what you want to do. That is why the KONAs are so important. Not only are they making a windsurf race class that anyone can attend, but is also a board that can be used in a large range of conditions...Windsurfing is like real estate; it is all about location, location, location. If you are a weekend warrior you need something that will work no matter what - or almost. If you like in a windy ocean place, lucky you... If you refuse to go out unless it is honking, you must already know what you need. Location is the major factor and your skills/technique play a large role as well. For most of us, one board can do 80% of what we want. So, a two or three board quiver will cover us well...

Since there are NO comments, I can assume my discussion is SPOT ON 
or just too bloody long 
NOT too boring I hope ....



S2Maui Sails is coming out of the closet !!



For those of you who do not know Barry Spanier and Artur Szpunar, they left Maui Sails in 2015. Artur and his family were having a baby and the above two(2) were busy with two(2) others to build up S2Maui Sails.

Their site seems to have just come up end of JAN/start of FEB 2016. Actually the site was up earlier, but NO data. For that one had to go their facebook.

For me, the sad news is
the TEAM is gone forever. 
MauiSails has NO new material for 2016
Both have gone to more constant curve masts - even though none are offered by S2Maui 
Local shop is carrying neither in 2016


The good news is:
Artur and Barry are still working together
there will be new innovations out from these two
Local shop will carry them in the future

Barry Spanier is an icon in the windsurf sail world.  He has worked for Niel Pryde, Maui Sails and with many of the BIG names in the race world. Bjorn Dunkerbeck got his start with the TEAM. Matt and Kevin Pritchard were on the team. Barry worked with Bruce Peterson to discover the ADTR system, which means the opening of the top of the sail under higher winds. Barry was or is working on an adjustable downhaul system, etc, etc



Footstrap Phobia

Footstrap Phobia ?? WTH/WTF ...LOL !!

A phobia is an "extreme or irrational fear".

I think an important point to realize is that this is "despite the awareness that it is NOT dangerous". (at least not as dangerous as the phobia makes it out to be !!)

In my case, I seem to have a footstrap phobia when it comes to windsurfing and planing. The issue does NOT seem to be related to getting in, but rather getting out – especially in falling or catapulting situations...

We have all fallen into the water still hooked into the harness with the sail on top of us. This can be quite stressful and nerve wracking and yet I have overcome that fear no problem.

So, what about this fear of falling in while still in the straps??











I can only imagine falling in while hooked into the harness AND  locked into the footstraps

In terms of getting into the straps, I am either right in front of them or actually stomping on them…


This above is a JP SLW92 with a 10 m² sail in light winds. People have suggested that I need go NO larger than the 10-oh and just need to get in them straps !!
So, the question is:  How to get over this irrational phobia ??

There are many people out there to help, criticize and encourage you when it comes to windsurfing. Jeff from Australia suggested I put a post on the iwindsurf forum in the US and that is what I did:


That post ran for over 10 pages and touched all kinds of ideas, subjects , etc …

Here I will post what I considered the best and nicest response – from gregnw44. 
Some others were a little more critical of me and my phobia

Here's my 2 cents, and the way I've taught it tons of times (with success). 
For Joe (since he's a big guy) sailing a BIG shortboard... he needs to be going fast (enough). In some of his vids he is planing, but it's marginal planning. 
If he has a powerful enough sail, for the wind he's in... he can sheet in more, and get going a bit faster. 


Anyway, first, install the straps in the most forward and inboard position, that is available. Then, adjust them as big as they go. We don't care about "control in extreme conditions" here. We are only trying to make it easy and not scary. And we need to build success and muscle memory. 
Take the fin off, and lay your board on something soft (sand, grass, etc.). 
Then practice getting in and out of the straps! 
Place your feet on the board, where you normally have them. Wiggle and slide them back, till they're right in front of the straps. 
Imagine yourself going fast over the water. 
Your weight should be on your toes, NOT your heels (you can even lift your heels off the board, to ensure you're not putting weight on them). 
Also imagine you're hanging most your weight off the boom, you want to be light on your toes. 
When your back foot is right in front of the rear strap with weight pressing on your toes keeping the board flat... put the toes of your front foot into the front strap. Because you have the straps BIG, your foot can slide in all the way. BUT don't weight the heel of your front foot, only weight your toes. You can even pull up on your front foot against the strap, and you will see how this tips the board to leeward (keeping it flat). 
Make sure you continue hanging most your body weight of the boom. Make sure you're still maintaining the same direction you started on (usually a beam to broad reach). 
NOW, practice this 10 times on each side of the board. 
NEXT, practice it 10 more times on each side of the board without looking at your feet. 


OK- put your fin back on and go sailing. 
You need the right combination of powerful sail and wind speed... so that you can go fast enough, to hang your weight from the boom. 
Sail in a straight line, usually in a beam to broad reach. 
Wiggling / sliding your feet back to "right in front of the straps. 
Important - with your feet right in front of the front AND rear strap... and hanging from the boom... and weighting the ball of your feet (no heel weight)... make sure you're still going in a straight line the way you began. 
Next - lift your front foot off the board for 1 second and put it back down. 
Then lift it for 2 seconds and put it back down. 
Then do the same with your back foot. Continue this till you can lift each foot off the board for 10 seconds, making sure that you don't change direction while doing this. 
Practice THIS daily, till it is easy. 


And then... you can place the front foot in the strap. Weight the toes of the front foot for 2 seconds... and then unweight and remove it from the strap. 
Continue in a straight line, moving the front foot in and out of the strap for a second longer each time. 
BE SURE that you are maintaining back foot pressure on the toes (which are in front of the rear strap, near the centerline) at all times. 

After your front foot is comfortable in the front strap. Go through this same routine, with the back foot. 


It is not unusual for this to take all summer... for some people to learn this and get totally comfy with it. But if you break it down to small steps, and practice them a lot... you will get more and more comfortable with it. 
After a summer, with diligent practice, it will become totally natural. And your board speed will improve... and you will be much more comfy flying across choppy water. You will discover a whole bunch of new ways to control the trim of your board... and to steer the direction you want to go... when you're fully powered up and using the straps. 

After you are comfy getting in and out easily and often... you can slowly adjust the strap size down to where you want it. And later, you can plane with different footstrap locations on your board, depending on what your priorities are. 


If you are diligent and practice all these steps long enough (no short-cuts) you will have success... and there will be no fear. You should always be able to get out of your straps, any time you want. And that's why, when learning, you should dance in and out of them constantly!! 
It becomes very natural eventually, and the muscle memory will allow you to make quick changes (in or out of straps) immediately. 
Have fun, Greg 
Smile

first, install the straps in the most forward and inboard position
Then, adjust them as big as they go
Place your feet on the board, where you normally have them.
Wiggle and slide them back, till they're right in front of the straps. 
Your weight should be on your toes, NOT your heels
Also imagine you're hanging most your weight off the boom
When your back foot is right in front of the rear strap with weight pressing on your toes keeping the board flat... put the toes of your front foot into the front strap
Make sure you continue hanging most your body weight of the boom

Based on this discussion and since it was winter, I did the following:

1) Made a practice video:


2) Adjusted the footstraps forward and wider:



















The arrows show where the straps were before. It seems to only be a difference of one inch forward and one towards centre…

Some suggested getting a board with even more inward straps. Yet others seemed against this idea, feeling the JP SLW92 was a good board to start…
This did seem to work for Morgan from Australia on his RIO. SHAKY video , but you get the picture (pardon the pun)



Maybe this one is a better example - better film in any case 



My windsurf buddy and ex-colleague , Helmut, listened to Bruno of 2-rad, who suggested that water starting and footstraps were critical skills to progress in real windsurfing – especially short boarding.  On the other hand, Helmut does NOT listen to me about getting light wind equipment for Montreal. This means with his Fanatic Hawk 135 and various SailWorks Retro sails, he goes out less than 10 times in a summer season (maybe twice in 2015). As we are heavyweights, we need high volume boards and large sails. Helmut will NOT use a sail larger than 8.5 m². That is my most used sail because I use it on the longboard(s) as well.

I will document progress on this - what works and what does not. 

While Peter Hart, Dave Whitey, Jem Hall, Sam Ross and MANY others are inspirational, I feel someone like the Rig Geek deserves credit. Unfortunately his blog has not been updated since about 2012 - hope all is well !!



You may have noticed that I did NOT broach the subject about which foot should go into the straps FIRST. Some people are advocates of FFF/front foot first and others BFF/back foot first. Suffice it to say, I need to get into the straps FIRST and can only imagine this will be FFF until slalom or other craziness is attempted ...

Some people say lean sail slightly forward, with mast foot pressure and go for front strap while leaning slightly back. And the inverse applies for the back foot. Maintain MFP, lean sail slightly back while going upwind and then leaning slightly forward , slide into back strap.

FrenchSalsa tells us EVERYTHING we need to know about footstraps, but were afraid to ask !!
Like which ones are easiest to get out of and why !!




Here's my buddy Jeff from down under tryin to get in them damn straps !!