Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Fantasy Imaginary Windsurf Board for Early Planing

Gee, I was just looking at the wind data from around Tidewater Virginia...


...and I started to really miss my formula windsurfing gear. Though it cost me a lot of money and frustration, the formula gear (a 1 m wide board and 9 - 12 m2 sails) let me get out and plane in the 8 - 14 knot conditions that are so prevalent here in the summer. My current strategy for those light winds is to sail a longboard and a 7.8 m2 sail; a combination that is relaxing and non-frustrating, but which doesn't plane in those conditions and thus doesn't really give me the adrenaline kick I got from formula.

Anyway, it reminded me of a "fantasy formula" I had invented in my mind, which would provide the light wind planing thrills of formula without some of the major frustrations.

Some of the major frustrations for me were:

1. The fragile wood veneer on my formula board required frequent repair and maintenance.
2. The sails were hard to rig and the clear plastic monofilm material broke easily.
3. The long, straight fins could only be used in deep water with no weeds (drifting mats of eelgrass are everywhere in Tidewater, Virginia in the summer). When you used a shorter fin or a raked-back, weed-shedding fin, it made it awkward to use the back footstraps positions because there was less lift from the fin to support your weight on the outside rail of the board.

Here are the corresponding features of my fantasy setup designed to avoid these pitfalls:

1. The board would have a slightly more durable construction with no wood veneer, but would still be light enough to plane very early and to feel lively. Starboard already makes a board like this called the "Formula Experience" and Bic has one called the "Techno Formula", but they don't have the other features I'm fantasizing about.
2. To make rigging easier the sail would either have no camber inducers, or it would have a wide luff sleeve so you could pop the cams on after downhauling. Also, it would be made entirely of x-ply or some other durable material that wouldn't crease and crack like monofilm. Sailwork's "Retro" sails, made of x-ply with no cams, fit the bill pretty well.
3. The board would have an extra row of footstrap inserts a few inches more inboard than the normal ones, and would have a domed deck and heel pads in that area so you could ride comfortably with a smaller or more raked-back fin.


The combination of features 1 and 3 would also allow the board to be used easily by less experienced sailors with smaller sails and fins in higher winds.


Catapulting Aaron said...

did you see that guy's custom board at windfest that had twin huge weed fins on a formula sized board?

He was definitely planing when no one else was....

James Douglass said...

Yeah, that board was, without a doubt, the weirdest frigging windsurf board I've ever seen in my life. I think the designer was calling it the "cat-ray". There's pictures of it in a recent issue of the New England Windsurfing Journal.

Mr. Cat-Ray was quite a character, too. I like how he kept wearing his foam helmet, harness, and life vest well into beer and bbq time.


John said...

definitely the weirdest board I ever saw as well. Get back into formula james! you know you want too

James Douglass said...

Hey John- Yeah, I think I will get back into Formula when I move to Florida. Either that or you-know-what.