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What Sail Size to Use ??

Before we go too far, please realize this analysis was performed for heavyweights in light to mid-winds. Not speaking about B&J/bump n jump, free-style nor wave sailing. Fairly flat water for heavy-weights ...

Most readers of forums and blogs are familiar with the James Douglass sail calculator:

You put in your weight and voilĂ  you have a guideline on what sail to use under which wind speed.
Here is a sample for 230 pounds which unfortunately is my current weight.
Luckily I have lost some weight recently !!

Click the graph to see it better

So, I used this data as a guideline and eventually drew up a table of numbers for which sails I used under which conditions... Then I plotted these numbers against the suggestions above:

Click the graph to see it better

Since I use kph, that is the measure I plotted against. Ironically the lines cross at the 8.x m² sail mark. THAT is my MOST used sail size for long boards AND short boards - due to the light wind nature in our area. The sails I use follow a more logarithmic trend than the other polynomial trend.

While I was Cape Hatteras about two(2) weeks ago, I had the honour of sharing the house with a fellow heavyweight whom we called King Kong/KK, due to his size. KK spent a month at Hatteras and was known to go out no matter what and usually clocked about 80 km per day on the water. His top speed was about 42 kph. He also used MUCH smaller boards and sails than myself and Helmut, another heavyweight in the house. King Kong's data looked a little different :

Click the graph to see it better

In this case both lines are following a polynomial trend, but King Kong typically uses a smaller sail than suggested until about 60 kph.

For me this data shows it is important to know what works for you and how far you can go. When I saw KK on an 86 liter board with a 4.8 sail, I could NOT believe my eyes !! The beauty of Hatteras is : when you go in the water it is typically shallow - EVERYWHERE... and THAT is why people like to try stuff there. Here at home we do NOT have such winds regularly and Hatteras is the place to try them.

Hope these numbers peak your interest in what works for you and how it compares. Would be nice to have some database that collected such data - where people live, how much they weigh and what works for them :-)

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