Sunday, April 20, 2008

Windfest Report + Longboard Review

Windfest Report

Woo hoo! I just got back from Frisco Woods Windfest 2008, which was awesome.

Sam Lake and I made ourselves at home in one of the nice camping cabins.
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The wind was light and offshore, only briefly getting into the 12-15 knot range, but that was no big deal because the weather was beautiful and warm enough to sail in swim trunks. Paul Richardson took some good pictures of sunsets and stuff.

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The social schmoozing was also top-notch.

Me (left), John Gelinne (middle), and Catapulting Aaron (right)
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I went down with a nice group from the VIMS Sail and Paddle Club, met up with homies from Virginia's W.E.T. club, and united with some cool, never-met-before-in-real-life folks from the blogosphere.

Elia from the VIMS club won the "board toss" event. At the tap in the background is Peter Bogkucki, New England Windsurfing Journal editor and windfest organizer.
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Paul Richardson from VIMS jury-rigged his daggerboard gasket with Gorilla Tape.
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There was a good turnout among windsurfers / campers, but there weren't as many equipment vendors doing demo's as there usually are at windfest. Nevertheless, I was able to try some interesting new gear, both from the vendors and from friends who brought their newish stuff. A big trend this year was a renaissance of longboards and stand-up-paddling. SUP seemed to be especially popular among the kids who were there.

Longboard Review

The first of the new longboards that I rode was Chad Perkis' Kona 11.5. It's the same shape as my Kona ONE, but it's thinner (170 liters vs. 220 liters), lighter, and doesn't have a daggerboard or a fully foam-covered deck. I rode it with the stock fin, which is a 30 cm US-box wave fin. The board was plenty stable for me, although you could tell it wasn't quite as floaty as the Kona ONE. I only sailed the 11.5 in light winds, but I assume it planes pretty well because of the light weight. It went upwind ok when you dug in the windward rail, but it definitely had a greater tendency to sideslip and couldn't get anywhere near the same upwind angle and speed as something with a daggerboard. Another minor thing; the slick nose of the 11.5 made it hard for me to sail fin-first, which I was trying to do so that I could sail, rather than walk, through the extensive shallow area at Frisco.

When it was a little windier I rode the RRD longrider. My first impression was that it looked cool.

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The red hull was awesome, and the pattern on top was slightly more testosterone-friendly than the hibiscus flowers of the Kona ONE. There were a variety of footstrap insert position; very inboard and forward for beginners, moderately outboard, and fully out on the rails. The vendor had the footstraps set in the most extreme out and back positions, which I felt was inappropriate for the relatively small, 34 cm MFC freeride fin that was on the board (but which would probably be great for a 50 cm fin and a 9.0 sail). On shore the RRD seemed marginally lighter, thinner, and "less long" than the Kona ONE, but these differences were more apparent on the water. The RRD planed earlier and sustained planing with less sail force than the Kona ONE, and felt more like a shortboard in terms of riding light and free. However, the upwind ability and "tracking" feel was less than on the Kona ONE, probably because of the RRD's thinner rails and smaller daggerboard. A more significant problem with the RRD daggerboard was that lots of water gushed up through the slot when going fast, regardless of whether the daggerboard was up or down. Other people who rode it also griped about the water-fountain daggerboard.

Conclusions:

Kona 11.5- Pretty cool, and probably the best of the 3 boards for SUP or serious wave riding, but not as good for flatwater and light wind as the ONE or the Longrider.

RRD Longrider- Most stylish looking and earliest planing of the bunch, with the best features for light to moderate weight beginners. For back-and-forth sailing in flat waters it would be a great alternative to widestyle shortboards like the GO, if only the daggerboard didn't do that annoying fountain thing.

Kona ONE- The best "true longboard" performance because of the big daggerboard and thick rails. It may make up for its more sluggish planing relative to the RRD with better control in high wind and rough water. However, without sailing the RRD in rough conditions I can't say for sure how they compare. Also, irrespective of performance, the fact that the Kona ONE is the only board of the three with a one-design racing class is a big plus for folks who might want to sail in a regatta sometime.

The END

PS- We didn't sail on the last day of windfest (Sunday), but on the way back we stopped at Buckroe beach in Hampton, Virginia for a well powered session on small sails and kites. Sam tried out his exotic new 9 m "Sigma" kite from Naish, I rode a 5.2 m Ezzy sail and 87 liter board, and Paul Richardson destroyed an old 4.5 sail in about 5 minutes.

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7 comments:

Catapulting Aaron said...

James,

I got to try the 11.5 both with sail and paddle. For me, this would be the best one because it's really more of a true SUP hybrid, and I'm never all that interested in racing or whale-watching upwind.

Overall, those are very fair comparisons... it all comes down to the individual to decide what strength they'd be willing to sacrifice.

rod said...

Hi James, interesting longboard review. Your Longrider / Go comment is ironic as I've just sold my kona in favour of a shortboard plus Go170 quiver...I spend a lot of time on 8m / 9m sails and the kona just didn't satisfy my early planing requirements.

However, to make up for it I have managed to buy a cheap F2 Race 380 so I'm hoping I now have everything covered.

My local dealer is an RRD guy but I had already bought the kona when the Longrider came out, although he will not carry them as stock, they certainly looked nice and I was very tempted to get one.

regards,

rod

James Douglass said...

Aaron- Yep, it's all about preference and compromise. :)

Rod- You got an F2 380!? That is an amazing board! My friend Marcy has one, and I mooch it from her whenever I get the chance. If you want to chase down sailboats in the harbor, stick your 9 m on that thing and you'll be able to beat them upwind, downwind, anywhere, in any wind. You're set.

PeconicPuffin said...

It's useful to know that you and C-Aaron are not the same person.

James, maybe you could make a matrix of windsurfing bloggers, with color coding and a chart with how many bloggers has the blogger met on the X axis and the geographic distance between the bloggers in the Y axis and then have a 90 day moving average of sailing days for each? If anyone can do it, you can.

I'm still bumming that I didn't meet up with you guys...maybe in the fall or later this spring?

James Douglass said...

Hey Michael- That's a good project idea. I'll ask my dissertation advisor if I can change topics at the last minute. :)

Let me and the human catapult know a couple days in advance if you're planning a trip South, and we can totally rendevous in the obx.

Joe said...

Thanks for the longrider review, James.
Thanks to your insight, I picked up a used one this spring and have been using it when the winds aren't there for my 125 liter board. (it came with a 38cm fin instead of the small stock fin, which was nice) The fountain effect is definitely there, but it doesn't bother me very much.
Anyway, I lately find myself going out on the chesapeake on the longrider regardless of whether it is windy enough for the 125 or not. Part of it is my desire to avoid spending a lot of time in the water with jellyfish, and part of it is how much fun the board is.
Thanks for the early insight.
-Joe

James Douglass said...

Joe- Cool! The Chesapeake Bay is a great spot for a longboard that can sort-of ride waves. :)