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How I started Shortboarding

Around 1995 I started windsurfing with the BIC Dufour Wing longboard. That's about fifteen (15) years ago !!! Around 2002 I purchased an F2 Comet 330 longboard which has a flatter bottom, butt is NOT as stable as the 200 liter Dufour - for my 100 kilos... In 2005 I received  a BIC Samba longboard from a neighbour. At this point I started sailing on the St-Lawrence River with the Samba. Other sailors were mostly using shortboards and were always waiting for the right amount of wind from the correct direction :-(

In 2007 it was a special birthday for me, fiftieth (50th) and my wife n I discussed whether I should purchase a digital SLR camera or a brand new sailboard. Since electronics and cameras always seem to go down in price and sailboards up, I decided to purchase a sailboard. My original thoughts were to get a newer longboard, something like the Fanatic Viper from 2-rad or the AHD Zen from Auventfou. The fact that Tinho Dornellas designed the ZEN was an influence. Tinho is the only MASTER instructor in the U.S. and seems to feel like me, just get the people on the water - comfortably. 

I narrowed it down to the AHD ZEN 170 liter board. René of Auventfou asked if the board was for me or the family. He also asked me where I was currently sailing ... He convinced me that the AHD FastForward/FF 160 liter was the ticket. It is the same board as the AHD ZEN 170 without the centreboard and without the extra layer of protection. Sometimes wish I had that extra layer of protection !! More on that subject later. Cuz what I discovered quickly was, the board is very sensitive and as such I purchased a $150 board bag soon afterwards. I also had not realized that my previous mast feet and mast extensions would NOT work on the shortboard. The good news is this "newer" mast foot of $80 and the 40+ cm extension of $80 could be used on any future shortboards {and future winter sailboards too !}.

So, for my 50th birthday in 2007 we purchased my first short board AHD FF 160 liter 79 cm board

small boo boo right of mast track

So, what are the specs of this baby ?
Volume: 160 liters
Width: 79 cm or 32 inches
One Foot Forward/OFO: 53.8 cm or 21.52 inches
Length: 268 cm or almost 9 feet
Weight: 9.9 kilos or 21.75 lbs
Sail Range: 5.0 - 9.0 or 5.5 - 10.0
Fin Box: Power ie single screw/bolt
Fin Range: 47 - 53 cm
Included: Straps, pads and Select 53 Race Fin
Vee/Tuck OFO: 0.0/2.0
Vee/Tuck 8FO: 0.0/8.0
Rise 4FO: 5 mm
Tail Release: 3 mm
Bottom: double concave in the tail - rare now

To understand some of this check Board Design.

My evaluation and experiences with this board: In terms of volume, it was the correct volume for me to start shortboarding here. Discovered the board has a great range - very good from 7.0 to 10.0 and ideal 8.5 to 10.0. It is probably ideal with an 8.0 as well, but I do not have that size. {Purchased an MS-2 8-oh which has 2 cams - obvious to some, and this sail runs GREAT on this board as well !!!!} 
The board thus has ample flotation and does plane early from what I can tell. It does not float like a BIC Techno II and seems a little more stable than that board as well in terms of easy planing control. One can almost walk around the deck like on a large longboard. The fin that came with the AHD is great for the bigger sails and smaller fins were required for the 8.5 and the 7.0. In terms of quality, the board is VERY sensitive. It dings quite easily and I managed to punch a hole on the deck with my harness hook. The BIC Techno II on the other hand looks like it handles these issues much better. My concern with the BIC is: the top looks fine due to the extra plastic coat on the outside, but how is the actual styrofoam underneath ? The sensitivity of the AHD makes me hesitant to purchase the FF in 117 litres, which is what the local shop is recommending as the next board down i.e. mid-winds. If I had to do it again, as a first board, I probably would purchase the AHD ZEN 170 with the extra cover for protection and has a centreboard. One fellow who has the AHD 117 likes it as much as i do and felt also that it was too sensitive AND the footstraps do not go out far enough for blasting. I cannot make that judgment call since I still have a footstrap phobia. I have noticed that when blasting, my feet are further down the rail than a footstrap would allow...

 As marked here: AHD FF Review from Solent Sailboards 

"Character and Performance: With quite a thin deck, parallel sides, classic lines and the diamond shaped tail, the AHD looks very distinctive on the beach. The underwater shape is relatively flat with double concave merging into a single concave, giving a low grip, low drag feel.

It is a very quick board to plane and gets going easily with its powerful and solid fin. Once planing it is reliable and tracks well, and has an alive and lively feel; exciting and very comfortable to sail. The ride is very distinctive, being both balanced and cutting sweetly through chop. When blasting your feet find a very secure position on the pads despite the quite flat deck, and the board drives well off the fin, feeling light and stiff. In stronger winds it remains controllable even in quite heavy chop.

It s fairly easy to initiate gybes on, and - while it requires commitment to really drive the rail through the turn - if you give it the welly it s smooth and will bite and carve hard, making it a good board for both intermediate and advanced gybers

Since the board was expensive (for me), I had to start with the sails that I had. My best sail at that time was my Niel Pryde/NP Warp Speed 7.0 sq meter sail with 3 cams. This picture is NOT of my sail and is badly rigged - cannot find my pics ^&*

As you can see, it is a dacron type of sail and is at least well shaped - when rigged properly. I will either find my pics or take some fresh ones...I also had a duct taped Gaastra 6.4 that my buddy gave me when he purchased his new Sailworks Retro.

We purchased the shortboard in the fall of 2007 and I tried it on a very windy cold day at the Pte-Claire Cartier launch site. People there in the know asked me what the heck I was doing... Explained that I just wanted to see if the kit could handle bigger winds and it can. My windsurf experience was not up to par then, butt I just had to know if I had made the right purchase :-)

I had lent my F2 Comet to a work colleague for one summer. He had that duct taped Gaastra 6.4 and he "got hooked". He purchased a new BIC Techno 160 and Sailworks Retro 7.0. We came up with the board volume together since he was about my weight and had had bad experiences with sinkers. I tried the Retro 7.0 on my board and discovered a new world. For my weight I felt I could go even a bit bigger.
So, the next year I priced out the Retro 8.5 with mast and boom. It was just too $$$. Went back to my buddies at auventfou and was introduced to Maui Sails of the infamous Barry Spanier. Wanted to stick to no cam light 8.5 sail and thus purchased the Pursuit 8.5. My buddy with the Retro 7.0 also purchased a Retro 8.5 not long after  I purchased my 8.5 :-) Just to say that yes, an 8.5 works really well for our weight in lighter winds around 15 knots - especially on our larger 160 liter shortboards...

As you can see in the following pic, the board has ample flotation for my weight and the sail is more than large enough for my size. This photo was taken on the St-Lawrence at a site I like to call Captain Morgan's.

At this point I was still uphauling and had two(2) harness lines on each side of the boom. I was trying to get used to a shorter harness line with the boom up higher. 

Another work buddy had just purchased a Nikon SLR and wanted to try it out. Think these are still the best pics I have of us windsurfing. Guess I better get him to come out again :-) now that our skills and speed have improved. Posted some of his stuff here in order to give him some credit where credit is due ..

Based on my notes, the first summer was dedicated to "getting used to the board", the next summer I had the new MS Pursuit 8.5 and started planing... Harness skills were getting better, but no foot-straps yet. I was hooked on this new experience of flying over the water and as marked in my profile, I am always looking to more time on water. The board is floaty enough and the sail works in a certain range. Others suggested formula boards if I want to get out earlier. For me this just is way too much of an investment in $$$ and we have had summers where water levels were so low I hit rocks in the middle of the St-Lawrence with my current fin(s). (Formula boards take giant fins around 70 cm long) Yes, I did purchase more fins - have a weed fin and a slalom fin now. Will dedicate another chat on fins cuz they are a critical part of the equation and were missed completely in the early years !!

So, what I did was try an MS MS-2 11.0 sail in 2009. The sail was an older version and I managed to break the bottom panel. It was still monofilm and later versions were stronger X-ply. This was a $200 experience/experiment, but showed me the sail just a little too big and yes a bigger sail would give me more TOW. So, I purchased an HPL boom which turns out to be carbon = bonus. Purchased an MS TR-4 10.0 with matching 520 cm 100 % carbon mast. That is now my lighter wind engine and yet , I still look for more. This year I will be using my BIC Dufour Wing longboard with the MS Pursuit 8.5 on the St-Lawrence in the really light unstable winds. Have read nothing, but good things about this old baby :-) {the BIC Dufour that is }

So, what are my final thoughts on the shortboard world ?

Am happy to have discovered it and yet find it a bit expensive for a family dad with four (4) kids. In terms of fun, can't be beat. Have many memories of myself smiling while flying. There is lots to learn and now do waterstarts, but footstraps and jibes are next and mandatory. The board is said to be able handle sails from 5.5 to 10.0. I have used up to 10-oh with no issue and down to 6-oh. In those conditions , it is too much for the board. This board is great from 7-oh to 10-oh. As discussed with some vendors, most boards have an ideal range of about 2 to 3 square meters of sail. After that conditions warrant another board.

In 2010 I purchased a 2000/2001 Fanatic LTD Bee 124 liter  63 cm board for bigger winds. It is older and narrower, butt for what I paid for it, it will be a great fun just to try and the board was a classique...It is in the basement up at the chalet and has not been tried yet ...

As you can see, like most windsurfers , the toy collection starts to become a disease :-)

Not sure I will ever need more than that for where I live and the conditions I sail in.
So: BIC Dufour 200 liter longboard + AHD FF 160 liter shortboard + Fanatic Bee 124 liter shortboard. One day hope to replace the BEE with a Fanatic Hawk 125 (no longer exists) or a Tabou Rocket 125. My eighteen (18) year old son says he will take the F2 Comet 330. It is better suited to his weight and size than mine. Hope he gets the windsurf bug too :-)

Life on the water = so sweet :-)

I try to bring one to two people to the sport every year :-) Even if they do not become avid windsurfers, I always hope they will spread the word :-)

With the longboard I learned most skills through reading and discussion. With the shortboard technique, it seems a little more complex and more to learn. Things happen at higher speeds and thus one needs to be ready. Not much time to reflect. For myself and my windsurf buddy we have started resorting to windsurf videos. There are many and I find them a bit expensive. However, I feel they give me ideas and courage. There are DVDs that are from "beginner to winner" and others aimed at specific skills like jibing/gybing. Names one often sees and are well known are: Guy Cribb, Jem Hall, Lars Peterson, Dasher, and Alan Cadiz... Even Micah Buzianis is on the Speed IQ DVD...And people are always raving about The Windsurf Movie and the 2nd one as well...Promo DVDs come with websites and magazines too....

One thing I have NOT mentioned very much is the cost of things. My BIC Dufour was free. My F2 Comet 330 with two(2) sails was only $200. My AHD FF 160 with board bag, mast base and mast extension was close to $1500. Yeah I know, sudden jump in price. Formula boards and LTD boards (lighter models and limited edition) can easily go for around $2000. If one is ready to purchase used equipment and older models, the price goes down drastically. Yes, they do not retain their value because people want the new stuff. My Fanatic Bee discussed below is 10 years old, but a great board. With a very specialized board bag , it was $300. This board was also $2000 in the day. This will be my "playboard" and I had a good idea what I want to try. Will get back to the blog with my experiences/experiments this summer of 2011.
Well, it seems people are interested in the Fanatic Bee 124 LTD. Thus I will attempt some further discussion on this board which seems to be another classic. These are some pictures of the board from e-bay. This board is GREAT shape and selling for only $400. The W on the board is a Sebastian Wenzel signature.

Thanx for understanding ... shortboard discussion is continued

SHORTBOARD Follow-up: Met a fellow in AUG 2011 who stated that a 160 liters is NOT a shortboard. For a fellow of my size a shortboard is around 110 liters - for him. He sails Lac Champlain and uses a 75 liter board and sails as small as 4.2 in winds up to 30 knots. Anything over 25 knots is too much for me.  I am starting to realize that in order to be a "real" windsurfer in Montreal you must be ready to travel !!!

2011 - decided to do a summary of my shortboard experiences and see if it was worth all that money !!
CSA = current situation analysis
NOT doing waterstarts
NOT using footstraps
NOT doing gybes/jibes

so, how did i get here ??
end 2007 -- turned 50 and purchased a NEW AHD FF 160 liter / 79 cm shortboard
early 2008 -- broke my shoulder ice windsurfing
                 -- only missed about three(3) windsurf sessions
                 -- first summer still sailing with my older sails and epoxy mast
                 -- tried the Retro 7-oh and felt i needed newer sail
late 2008   -- bought the MS Pursuit 8.5 and Autima 490/90 mast
2009         -- got better with the harness lines
                 -- started planing and catapaulting
early 2010 -- bought the TR-4 10-oh and 520/100 mast
                 -- started going on local river
                 -- windsurf in Maine at DI
                 -- took waterstart lesson from APVM
                 -- can now go really fast, butt NOT in straps !!
end 2010  -- now have ice and snow windsurf sleds !!
                  -- bought the BEE LTD 124/63
2011        -- another lite wind year
                -- barely used the BEE 124
                -- used the BIC Dufour and bought the Fanatic CAT longboard
                -- stopped going on local river after hitting rocks and cutting hand
                -- bought the MS-2 8-oh with mast 490/75 & sold Pursuit 8.5 Autima 490/90

DO water starts
LEARN footstraps
PRACTICE gybes/jibes !!
feels like i have been shortboarding for ages and NOT getting anywhere - 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 is only four years and the first year was with old sails !!!
ie find it difficult to remain patient !!!

2012  - so, I was supposed to be doing water starts? beach starts are fine, butt light winds have kept me on larger sails and only had one day where i couda tried water-starting - did beach starting on the 124 instead with a 6.3
so, I am supposed to learn foot-straps ? still chicken - will push harder
practice jibes/gybes? yes, on the Bic Techno Formula which is 170 liters and 94 cm wide !! works great with the TR-4 10-oh that I am keeping !!!
will move one side of footstraps on the BIC techno Formula forward and force myself to go for it !!!
and YES i am practicing jibes/gybes 

2013 -  This year started badly with the 10-oh misbehaving. And was NOT "repaired" until near the end of the season. As such, I spent more than 80% of my time on the longboards. I punched a hole in the CAT and purchased a Mistral Equipe I. Thus the short board skills did NOT improve. One thing for sure ... I need a better life jacket to practice water starts. Next year it will be back to the BTF, AHD and BEE. Unfortunately I am already looking at 140 liter boards - to better accommodate the 7.x sails :-( {in some of my earlier analysis - 135/140 would be ideal for an 8-oh and 125 for 7m sails!!!}
I also like having both an 8-oh freeride and 8.4 race sails. Using the MS-2 with NO cambers and monofilm repairs for now ...

Guess I should put my GoPro video here as well ? :-)

In 2015 I started looking at smaller boards with a little more performance ...
Like 2008 JP SuperSport 136, 2011 Futura 133, 2014 SB iSonic 107, 2011/20012 SB iS 117L and even 2000 Fanatic BEE 137...
In order to do this I need some CA$H ...
and so I decided to sell my AHD FF 160/79 with the 48 cm fin...
I posted it on one of five websites where i post to sell and within one hour I had a serious buyer.
Within four hours it was sold, but with fin AND bag ...
Patrick seemed a little discouraged with some of the bruises, but the board is intact ...
I was kind of sad to see it go :-(
This was my first shortboard and the only one I ever had NEW ...
Oh well, onto the next ...

guess this is the last video of this board with me ...

this was the listing:
2007 AHD FastForward/FF 160 litres 268x79cm powerbox - viens avec aileron de 48 cm.
Beaucoup de flotation avec 160 litres et plane rapide avec 79 cm de largeur.
C'est un peu magané vu que c'est ma première planche de shortboard.
Va très bien avec des voiles de 7.0 à 8.5 (jusqu'à 9.0 j'imagine).
Je l'ai essayé avec des voiles entre 6.3 et 10.0
2007 AHD FastForward/FF 160 liters 268x79cm powerbox - comes with 48 cm fin.
Lots of flotation with 160 liters and early planing with 79 cm.
Since it was my first shortboard, it is a little beat up.
Goes VERY well with sails 7.0 - 8.5 (and probaby 9.0).
Have used it with 6.3 to 10.0.