Friday, May 18, 2018

First PWA Racing of the Season, New Equipment and a note about Free-Race Boards


Hi


PWA

The first PWA event took place recently in Japan.  

The slalom heats were few because the wind was extremely unsteady but there are a few observations to be made.

The first observation is that the foiling side of things seems to have come of age.  It is closely fought and quite entertaining to watch.  Gonzalo has emerged as the guy to beat having dedicated himself to the discipline over the winter.
 
Gonzalo is on Starboard/Severne and is flying.  The new Severne Hyperglide sails seem to be pretty much foiling state-of-the-art at this point in time.

  
Many of the riders prefer sails other than pure racing designs for foiling (Julien Quentel uses Tempests – not the new Machine M-6 race models for example).

Interesting though, is that the Pryde sailors have no problem with their new race blades – foil or slalom – bring it on.  This attests to the user friendliness of the design and to underscore this, Antoine won the slalom racing and came second in the foiling – on the same sails.


  
When Pryde launched this model with its fresh shaping and reduced batten count, I predicted that it would prove to be something special.  It is still early days but watch this space.


New Equipment


RRD is getting serious about foiling at the highest levels and is about to release their new foiling board.  They clearly wanted to give Antoine the best chance of winning and so, made a proper, light, purpose built, foiling machine.  Nice!



Fanatic has released the Jag Ltd, a freerace board which looks interesting.  The Blast is more of a high speed freeride machine I suppose, so the new Jag makes sense as a useful addition to their line-up.
 
I note that the construction of the Jag is the same as the Gecko so it might be quite heavy.  I’m not sure why they would not have a textreme option for those of us allergic to heavy stuff.  

The weights of the new boards are not shown on the spec sheet which makes me extremely nervous.





The boards come with Choco Black Pearl fins which are decent blades.  You could easily take the supplied fin as your middle size and supplement with something like a Tectonics (Phoenix or Falcon) for your smaller size and a full on carbon fin for the larger size.  One board/ three fins/ job done.

Besides the concerns regarding the weight of the Jags, I would only say that the straps look too far back for me.  This is a 100%, sitting - in - armchair opinion of course but I just have the feeling that the straps are too crowded towards the back of the board.  This is better for speed I suppose but I don’t know.  

I would need to sail a Jag to get some sort of feel.  Buying one blind would definitely not happen whereas if I were to get a good deal on any of the other boards listed below, I wouldn’t hesitate to take it untried.

The Free-Race Board

The new Jag is one of many free-race designs on the market right now.  Off the top of my head these are the models I would be looking at if I needed to choose one:
  • Severne Fox 
  • RRD Firestorm Ltd 
  • Patrik F-Race 
  • Starboard Futura 
  • Goya Bolt Pro 
  • Fanatic Jag (need to try first)
Severne’s Fox is the only power box board here which is not a problem in the smaller sizes but in the bigger sizes I would definitely prefer Tuttle and deep Tuttle boxes.

Why I fancy these designs in the appropriate size, is because they:
  • Are longer than their slalom counterparts 
  • Have inboard strap plugs for those of us tired of stepping into the water trying to get feet into slalom straps. 
  • Can be sailed very happily with freeride, free-slalom or full race sails 
  • Can be sailed with a range of fin types – from wild water shapes to full carbon race blades 
  • Are so much more enjoyable to sail than slalom boards in all but the flattest conditions.
For my weight, I would order one of these boards of around 70cm wide.  Anything bigger would need to be pure slalom and anything smaller would be a fast free-wave board.  

I may share a few thoughts about some fast free-wave shapes in an upcoming post.

OK, that’s all for now.

Good winds and stay sheeted in   



Wednesday, May 2, 2018

News about Patrik Models, Foils, Boards and Fins


Hi

I have been waiting for some of the 2018 equipment ranges which have still not been introduced.  

Patrik

Patrik finally introduced his new slalom range which now includes two construction options.  He is still not showing his hollow boards which would make three.

Anyway the two constructions on the site are GBM (high spec) and GET (lower spec).  The red GET boards are quite attractive, not much heavier but more flexible (probably good for control in the smaller sizes).
    
What concerns me slightly is that the two construction lines seem to be different designs.  Here is the 130l version of each construction.  Have a look and see what you think:



All the sizes seem to show slight differences between grey and red models.  What gives?

Industry Concerns

I am still waiting for MB slalom and free ride models, most of the Avanti sail line, Naish’s 2018 Starship etc.  Angulo may have thrown in the towel.  They have had no new stuff on their site since 2016 and Peter Bijl has nothing on the sales part of his site.
 
These things are easy to complain about but the sad thing is that they all point to troubles in the industry.  The traditional windsurfing market is shrinking and everyone (each supplier and consumer) needs to consider the way forward.
 
Suppliers clearly need to broaden their customer base with kiting, SUP, foiling, apparel pure surfing etc, with windsurfing being a shrinking part of what they offer.  The industry also needs to develop a business model to give the best chance of surviving.  

I’m not sure what such a model may be.  Maybe everyone signs on to the central manufacture of accessories (lines, extensions, mast feet, booms etc), standardized and manufactured in one place to contain costs.  I’m thinking three levels of each thing (high tech, medium tech and budget).   Each supplier would then merely choose a technology from the factory, have its branding affixed and take bulk orders.
        
Another approach could be to decentralise the whole thing, manufacturing small quantities of equipment in a range of small facilities spread across the windsurfing globe.  This could be done using a combination of clever licensing agreements and strict quality control together with modern manufacturing and materials technologies.  Such an approach could be both lean and flexible.   I may share some ideas about this in a future post.

Anyway, here are three nice new developments:

Foil

Mert Ozener alerted me to RRD’s new aluminium foil,  sporting an adaptable mast head which can be configured to accept a whole range of fin boxes.  
This is really intelligent and commendable.   

The pity is that it is only available in aluminium.  I suppose CF is more difficult to set bolts into.  They prefer to mould everything into one piece for integrity.  Anyway - well done RRD.



Fin

Gareth Hill mailed me from England saying that he has ordered a Fly-Fin from FRPGear.  Gareth is one of our local sailors who has homes both here and in England, allowing him to live (and sail) in perpetual summer.  He is also a competent windsurfer who will provide feedback on the fin’s performance in terms we can all understand and relate to.

The guys at FRP have produced a large (and slightly bewildering) variety of shapes for their fins and have even made their own board.  Fantastic!

 
I’m not sure if all of this stuff works for normal high performance blasters but I admire the energy, enthusiasm and inventiveness of these guys.  

Their fabrication is top-notch because of their history with the technologies.  Gareth is going to give us feedback on the fin he has ordered and I can’t wait.

Boards

Danny Bruch is in the process of establishing a new windsurfing brand.  It will be known as Diamond Boards and it promises to be something special.


Danny, as most of you will know, is a world ranked windsurfer who spent many years developing boards for Starboard.  

He has moved to Tenerife where he has organised a manufacturing facility very close to his local windy beach.  Very nice.
  
The set-up provides an opportunity to manufacture in the morning and test the very next day, an example of the lean, flexible approach mentioned above.  

Danny compares his concept with the established Cobra factory based approach where you fly to Thailand, fashion your proto-types with the factory, fly to a suitable testing venue with the proto-types, test them, amend shapes where necessary, fly back to Thailand and furnish the final amended plans for volume production.  This is a hugely wasteful process and Danny’s set-up is so much more elegant.    

Diamond Boards will offer their own proprietary shapes covering all the windsurfing disciplines but will also offer the opportunity for you to specify something tailored to your own needs.  
Say you really like your Starboard Kode Feewave, but would prefer it with a power box centre fin.  You could specify such a thing, lodge your payment and await delivery.  Very cool!

Good winds         

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

New Equipment from North, Severne and MB

Hi


Here are some recent equipment developments which are quite interesting.

North Sails
Kai Hopf and the North slalom team are in Tenerife working on the 2019 Warp race sail.  

There is nothing new in this but on viewing the video, I noticed that a few of the protos had only 6 battens.  

At first I thought I was seeing things but just look at the stills I took from the video.

It seems that they are exploring 6 battens in the smaller sizes.




 
Is it just me or does the mast sleeve look quite narrow?


Look at the control issues with the 7 batten sail compared to the absolute composure of the 6 rod machine.  These foils are being sailed right on the ragged edge of course so these cuts are important for us to assess the two designs under pressure.

   
Action footage of 6 batten against 7 batten counterparts show very little difference in speed - if anything, 6 seems to beat 7.  Nice!  

Please have a look at the footage on the North site and see what you make of it.

North, if you are going to make some 6 batten Warp sizes, I salute you.  Very, very cool!

Severne

The Severne Dyno is up on the site with pictures, specs and tech info.  

Thanks Severne for one of the most elegant blasting+wave boards on the planet.  

They only need to create a similarly awesome slalom board now to become a complete one-stop-shop for every windsurfing need.

Here is a video from Severneshop.com in the UK.  They speak to James Hooper, the board’s designer.

Of further interest to me is the Hex4 system which involves the use of one tool to tighten battens, footstrap screws, fin bolts/grub screws etc.

Regular readers will recall me bemoaning the fact that nothing like this existed.  A few of you told me about Flikka who use the approach but here is one of the big players finally embracing the concept.  At last!

The guys discuss this system from about 5min into the video.

Here is the link:



MB Boards

The company MB has always made fins as most of you will know.  Recently they started making boards as well.  

Being a sucker for things new and unusual, I swooped onto the site to have a look.

MB started with freestyle and wave type boards – an obvious choice given the snowboard – like outline of their products.
 
Balz Muller (a madman), is using MB boards now and says that they have revolutionised his sailing.





I can understand how the shapes would work for wave and freestyle but freeride and slalom? - not so sure but really keen to find out.

Unfortunately both freeride and slalom lines are still under development so no specs and no hope of any third party reviews just yet.






This is an ex-demo slalom board which they are selling from their site.  It just looks like a whole lot of fun with its easy strap positions and curious shape.

It could be exactly what the doctor ordered (providing it goes as good as it looks of course).  

Looking at the reduced wetted area around the fin, I think it could be very fast indeed but who knows.
   
Someone – please buy this board, use it and get back to us with your opinion.
 
Better still MB, send it to me and I will review, assess and post my impressions!

That’s all for now

Phil

Monday, January 29, 2018

Bug Foils and two Hollow Slalom Boards

Hi

I met Rajko Zuzek yesterday.  He visited us from Cape Town (where he is holidaying), and spent the day testing his latest foil. The wind was light for us, but OK for foiling.


 
Rajko is the owner of Bug Fins & Foils from where he produces windsurf foils and a wicked line of slalom fins.

 
He only works in carbon and every component has the stamp of a true craftsman.  You could take any of his components and mount it as a piece of art.  Very impressive.

Rajko the man is also impressive.  He, like most of us, has been windsurfing forever and like most windsurfers, is easy going, approachable and willing to share stories.  He is also very forthcoming with technical details and knowledge about his foils. 

Rajko uses a dedicated foiling board from Flikka and he explained that the mast track on pure foiling boards is set further back than in normal windsurfing slalom boards.  I had never heard this before.
 










You can still ride a normal slalom board with a foil but it is not as easy to balance.  If you plan to use a normal board to foil, please start with the mast foot as far back as it will go in the track.

Anyway, Rajko spent much time gliding back and forth with slalom foil, 7.8 XO sail and the Flikka foil board.  He recons that he has perfected the wing shaping and lay-ups on this latest foil and I have to say he was flying around effortlessly.  The RRD team was also out but were struggling to go on their foils in the very light conditions.

Regular readers will know how keen I am about devices to spread fin box loading when using a foil.  The Bug foil has side flanges to achieve this.  Nice!




Chris from Jersey is here for the racing (being run this week) and was unboxing two of his new Patrik hollow boards (115 and 140) right next to where Rajko was setting up.  If feather light is your thing, these are the boards for you!  Why aren’t they on the Patrik website yet?

Anyway, it’s been a long time since I was among so much desirable stuff in one small space – hollow boards to the left of me, sublime foils and fins to the right - equipment overload!
 
Chris says that a mate of his in Jersey races with Bug slalom fins and swears by them.

Well there you have it – a quiet day which turned out nicely.  The wind also picked up later and we had a great cruise on T-Rex and an old 7.0m sail.

Good winds

Monday, January 22, 2018

Two Awesome new Sails

Hi

Two really nice sails are about to break cover.   They are Avanti’s new race machine and their 2018 Poweride.  I have always fancied Avanti sails because of their construction and associated easy manners.

The 2018 Avanti M6+ Race Machine


For 2018 they have:
  •          changed batten angles slightly
  •          refined load paths across the sail body (as you are               able to do with string technology)
  •          dropped one batten from every size.  Seven                           battens at last - well done Avanti! 


There are some fantastic race sails out there right now but this has to be one of the most exciting for me.  Just look at the thing!  






I will try to find a shot of one fully rigged for some proper eye-candy.


Here are the sizes: (sorry – no weights)

We need to watch Juju in the racing this year.  His sails were as fast as anything else last year but I felt that he sometimes struggled on his gybe exits in light conditions.  
Avanti have worked on this aspect I think.  

The seven batten layout, being less locked in, will allow him to use his natural talent to squeeze every last knot out of the rig in varying real-world conditions.  Nice!


2   Avanti’s Poweride V1 Freeride Sail

The Poweride has always been good and the 2018 offering looks like the best ever. 




Here are the sizes:


Everyone watching sail reviews online, will know that this sail is consistently near the top of every review.  What has always given me pause for thought however, is the straight-line speed of the larger sizes.

The sail is designed to be easy and fun and that is absolutely correct for the two smallest sizes but when we get to 6.6 and 7.4, most of us want max speed on a fast slalom board in addition to easy control.
  
The aim is to have an easy sail which fits perfectly with your fast free-ride board over rough water.  On flat water days however, the same sail should be capable of smoking on a flat, fast slalom board.
  
I suspect that Avanti have nailed this aspect in the bigger sizes now.  I would need to ride one before I could confirm but I have a good feeling.
 
We don’t expect it to be as fast as an NCX, Point 7 AC-X or Goya Mark but it should be very, very close.  

If any of you should have a chance to ride a 2018 Poweride 6.6 or 7.4 with your 112(ish) slalom board - please let us know your impressions.

That’s all for now

Good winds 

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Some Severne News

Hi

Here is a short note around some developments from Severne . 

The new Severne Dyno is about to be released and it looks like one serious board for the blaster with wave-riding requirements.

Here it is:


And here are the dimensions:



Once again Severne creates an important board.  I predict that it will fly over rough water with single fin and style in waves with the tri-fin set-up.  An awesome do-it-all board which (like the Fox), just looks right.

The latest  Windsurf Magazine (issue 372) includes a Dyno in their 95l board review.
Here are some extracts from that test write-up:

1.

2.



3.


Thanks Windsurf Magazine!

Please subscribe to this publication.  Their tests and articles are so on point and useful. 

I mentioned the new Mach1 race sail in the last post.  

Ben Severne is clearly determined to see this sail on the PWA podium in 2018 and has employed Matteo Iachino to make it happen.
  
I can’t think of a better pilot and we await the new PWA season with interest.  

(Matteo+Mach1+iSonics ......faaak!).


   
Talk to you soon

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Two new Race Sails and a Foil Test Site



Hi

Here are some thoughts about two new race sails and the link to a site containing some useful back-to-back foil reviews.

Race Sails

The first race sail is Severne’s new Mach1. I mentioned it some time ago but it is now on their site. It looks fantastic – they have dropped the fiddly outer batten tensioners and generally tidied the sail up. Very nice. As I said previously – drop one batten and you are there Severne! 




I have to say that the new Overdrive looks pretty special as well.  It is light, has 7 battens and rigs on an RDM.  Full house as far as I'm concerned.


The other new race sail is from Pryde. I usually have little interest in Pryde sails but this one looks like something special. They have dropped one batten in all sizes up to 9.4m and made the sail really light. They normally do not give weights for their sails but they are obviously proud of this one and give us weights. Sure enough, the weight is right down there with North, Avanti and Severne.




In addition to dropping a batten, Robert also changed the angle of all the battens to align them with the airflow when sailing. This is a sound idea I suppose, but not a new one. Gaastra did the same thing in the 90’s and made a big song and dance about it.

I have a good feeling about this sail. We will need to watch it in the 2018 racing clips. It is going to be really interesting.

Well done guys – a very elegant, beautifully coloured product with the correct number of battens. Awesome!

Foil Reviews

I think that I promised this link a while ago but did not get down to doing it. Foiling is new so we don’t have much access to comparative tests. Rather, we have to read the manufacturer’s claims or watch a stand-alone test of one foil.

The guys on this site test a range of foils so we can get an idea about the performance of Select’s Profoil compared to the Pryde F4 for instance or how the different Loke wings perform etc.

Here is the link:


https://www.windsurf.boutique/actus/comparatifs-windfoils.html


The site is in French so you will need to deploy your browser’s translator if you do not speak it.


Compliments of the season to all of you. Good winds and happy sailing.