Sunday, August 5, 2007


This is the second post in the “Boredology” series. It attempts to explain and justify my having 7 sails for windsurfing instead of just one. Regarding boards, I wrote that you only “need” one, but that it’s nice to have more. Likewise, a one-sail quiver is doable, but a range of sail sizes for different wind conditions will give higher performance. That’s because the optimal wind range of a sail, in which it provides enough power to get you “planing” but not so much as to be unmanageable, spans only about 5 mph. You could have one sail that was great from 15-20 mph, but it would be flaccid in 10 mph, and overpowering in 25 mph. That, in a nutshell, is why people like me have so many sails; to cover all the wind speeds you’re likely to encounter. My biggest sail, 9.8 meters squared, will get me planing in about 11 mph of wind. And my smallest sail (I just bought a 3.5 at a swap meet today) should let me sail in control in winds up to around 35 mph. (BTW, if you want to know what size sail YOU should use in a certain wind strength, check out my automatic windsurfing equipment calculator for different winds and body weights.)

Anyway, I made this cool chart of my sail sizes and the number of days I have used each between January and August this year.
Obviously my small sails (5.2 and down) haven’t gotten used very much, and probably aren’t practical in any normal sense. But not having sails for those rare, super-windy days would feel like fishing with no bait. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to use the new-to-me 3.5 before the year is out. If not, I can always let beginners use it for learning, which is what I normally do to keep my small sails from getting lonely.
That’s about all I have to say on sailology. I could go into more detail about the different kinds of sails and their special features, but I think I’ll save that for another day and end with a photo of the 9.8 and me at the W.E.T. Spring Regatta at Yorktown this year. The wind was really light and the current was really strong, so we all needed our biggest sails just to be able to make it back to the beach.


PeconicPuffin said...

I've got seven sails too.
My smallest is a 3.4 too.
But my biggest is a 7.0!

The only excuse is that I pack for both my wife and I...

James Douglass said...

7 is the magic number, apparently. :)