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Fine tuning in Spring

The 2011 season is starting and thus I often go over the basics and what I want or need to improve ...

Lots of writing here about technical stuff like fins, boards, masts, sails, etc. Then it gets more personal. Like seat harness vs waist harness. How high does one put the boom? How far back do the harness lines go. Where does one place the footstraps? How tight or loose do the straps go ? Does one use an adjustable outhaul ? Cams up to what sailsize? Where does the mast base go on the mast track ??

Many of these things depend on what one wants to do ie they are task oriented. Often it is speed vs maneuverability.

Seat harness vs waist harness is probably the easiest one. Waist harnesses are suggested for people who have never used a harness. Seat harness is usually used by heavier sailors and speed sailors. Waist harnesses are used by wave sailors. These are obviously not rules. People use their personal preference. Try b4 u buy !! Stores have test setups. Use em !! I discuss this here cuz my seat harness is really old and out-dated. For me the question is: is it time to change or update my harness ??

How high does one put the boom? This seems to depend on wind strength, personal preference, harness line length and experience. It is suggested one put the boom between shoulder height and chin height. Then adjust harness line length accordingly. Also, it is suggested to put the boom lower in strong winds and higher in lighter ones {seems I may have inadvertently flipped this originally - my apologies} . Then again, personal preference and harness type comes into play. The waist harnesses seem to have their hooks placed just slightly higher.

How far back do harness lines go ? Guy Cribb has his one third of the boom length principle. Jem Hall speaks about 5 or 6 hands back from the mast. I believe it was Britt Viehmann who says find the balance point while on land. They all seem to agree that once a balance point is found, then move front line forward if pulling on front and back line back if pulling on back while sailing. Once again, personal preference, experience, etc all come into play. Everything I read told me to move my lines back, butt that happened all on its own over time. Went back as far as 20 cm on the 8.5 sail - boom of 234 cm. That's a move of almost 10 % of the boom length.  In 2013 Bruno of 2-rad told Helmut that if you draw a straight line on a rigged sail from the top of the sail to the base, where it crosses the boom is where the front line of the lines should go - Never heard that before !!

How long should the harness lines be? It is suggested they not be too long and I have seen some people have em mighty short!! Somewhere around elbow to palm of hand and then adjust. Have I said this is a personal choice yet ? And that experience makes a difference ?? :-)

How far apart should harness lines be ? Definitely NOT like in the 80's. They were really wide. It is written no more than one or two hands apart - many people have them almost touching. They sell lines which connect to boom at one point only. These are one length and easier to put and remove from boom. I like mine really close together , but have not yet determined my ideal length.

Where to put footstraps?  And how loose or tight ? Some boards just have too many footstrap positions. I have seen them up close to the mast base. Not sure what all that is about. On a race longboard perhaps, but why on a learner shortboard ? It is said to start with front footstraps all the way up and the back one in the middle if the board allows for it. I am not so sure about the back one in the middle except for wave sailing and maneuvering moves. I feel it just makes for bad habits and one has to learn how to use the outer setting after. Suggest putting them at the front of the back as well. Then one adjusts over time. Some people with wide stances have them in different locations in terms of front vs back. Saw a video where they suggested to change the straps depending on what you are doing for the day. Locally I have NOT seen people do that. Looser footstraps seem to be more for wave and B&J while tighter is for regular sailing , BAFFing and racing. Apparently we should see the little toe at the very least and adjust for booties. UPDATE: Just read a blog where they speak about footstrap setting for freestyle and it is different to allow foot freedom. This seems to mean VERY high setting in the middle !!!

Does one use an adjustable outhaul? It seems to be highly recommended in the Formula type sailing and larger sails on flat water at high speeds. Locally I have NOT seen much use of this apparatus. Bruce Peterson swears by it and used to provide it with the SailWorks Retro sails.

Cambers in what sail sizes? Personally find sails under 7.0 do fine without cambers. I love cambers and have them on most of my sails. Lock in sail shape for lighter winds and control. People locally use less cambers than I do. No cam sails are easier to waterstart. I ask this question cuz i was looking at getting a 7.5 - hopefully to fit on my 490 mast. Is it time to update one's sail quiver or sails?

Where does the mast base go on the mast track? You can leave it at the 135 cm mark, which is usually on the half way mark of most sailboard tracks. Some very experienced windsurfers do just that. I tend to look at sail range for the board and put larger sails a bit forward and smaller back. Too bouncy, move it up. Missing a bit for planing, move it back a bit. Not sure, put it in the middle. Guy Cribb says lean the sail over the back of the board and have the boom a certain distance from the back of the board - 2 fingers to a fist. Thus mast track position and boom height are accounted for. Personal choice and experience once again !!

How much downhaul and outhaul? I usually choose a sail for the conditions and downhaul and outhaul inside those conditions. After a quick test out on the water, I go back in and adjust while standing in waist deep water. Harder to add downhaul here though. Some race sails ask for one downhaul setting and then adjust via outhaul. I like to adjust a little at a time and do not feel like adjusting too much. Seems okay and planing - let it rip. Overpowered, go in and downhaul if there is some left and more outhaul too. Underpowered, slack the outhaul first and downhaul later too - if the sail allows for it.

Followup:  The next day after having pumped in these thoughts, I came across an article from Bruce Peterson of Sailworks in WindsurfingMag of May 2004 page 82 called Tuning Smart. The concepts presented are obviously still valid today...Bruce speaks of three(3) settings - underpowered, average power and overpowered. He seems to use what I call the one, two and three finger downhauls. Three being the loosest and for underpowered and one for overpowered conditions. He speaks of putting the mast base about the center mark depending on over, average or under. Middle for average, move it up for control and back for more planing power. Bruce also adds the dimension of fin. Standard fin for regular winds, smaller for bigger winds and bigger fins for more planing in light conditions. Bruce also moves the harness lines about. Back for overpowered and forward for underpowered. Wonder if one could just change the harness line length to get a similiar affect ?

Which board and sail combo to use? Use what you got and enjoy yourself. Butt always play it safe. We all have stories where we have been where we should not or when we panicked. Wrong setup and equipment issues and trouble comes quickly. Out in conditions beyond our experience, trouble comes quickly. That is why I call myself average joe windsurfer. I go when I can, but winds over 25 knots are intimidating and require experience and the right equipment !!! Never leave your board. It is a flotation device !!!

What do I need to practice and improve in 2011? Footstraps and waterstarts. Can do beachstarts and some waterstarts. Have a fear and loathing of footstraps. Feet are there, butt hesitate. This year - go for it. Will need these skills for my "new" Fanatice BEE LTD 124 and my 97 kilos :-) Imagine this is like when i began the harness - fear of ... The good thing with the harness was , it was easier to practice in light winds. My board does not allow me to footstrap in light winds - sinks in the back :-(

What's missing in my toolbag? sunscreen !! more MarineTex 4 repairs...

Check the "ropes" !!

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