Monday, March 14, 2011

Beginner Board Dilemma

This summer I'd like to teach some of my new Massachusetts friends how to windsurf. The problem is that I don't currently have a board suitable for beginners, and if I get one I'll probably have to sell one of my other three boards to make space. My current board "quiver" is:

Starboard Evo 83- High wind, wave-oriented shortboard used with 5.5, 4.7, 4.2, and 3.5 m^2 sails. 83 liters volume.
Exocet Cross 106- Medium wind, wave-oriented shortboard used with 6.8, 5.5, and occasionally 4.7 m^2 sails. 106 liters volume.
Exocet Warp SL 71- Medium wind, speed-oriented shortboard used with 8.0 and 6.8 m^2 sails. 118 liters volume.

The one that would probably have to go would be the "Warp", since the other two are vital for wavesailing, which is my favorite kind of windsurfing. It would be nice if the beginner board could have some of the characteristics of the Warp it would be replacing, specifically:

1) Fitting inside my van.
2) Fitting the role of early-planing shortboard for me.

I was thinking something like an older Starboard Start, Starboard GO, or Bic Nova might do the trick. Maybe one with just a small, removable center fin instead of a full daggerboard. I guess there's no rush to make the switch now, though, since it will be a few months before it's warm enough for beginners to get in the water. In the meantime, if you think you want to buy my Warp or sell me a beginner board, let me know. I would consider selling the mint-condition warp for $800 with no fin or $900 with a 44 cm slalom fin. Here's a picture-

Riding da fin


JSW225 said...

Why not go with a convertible SUP? A wide, long Stand Up Paddleboard that has a mast slot / hole would be a great beginner board. It'd also be a great board to coast around on in light, sub 10 knot winds for time on water.

Then you can take it paddling when its glassy. Or even take it out regular surfing.

I recommend this one for a cheap one that can be beat up: . Though I'll be putting a nose pad on mine for teaching beginners.

James Douglass said...

Well, the only problem with a SUP / longboard is that it would be hard to get in and out of my apartment and might get stolen quickly off my roofrack in the blue-collar neighborhood where I live.

Catapulting Aaron said...

I second JSW's notion, and bring the AHD sea lion into contention.

Not sure how great of a pure beginner board it is, but it would definitely be more fun for you in the waves and they're pretty stinkin' short. I saw one in baja and it definitely doesn't seem like the most gliding board, but who knows...

2 centavos

James Douglass said...

Gracias para los centavos, senor Aaron. I'm curious about those Sea Lions, too. They seem a little light on volume for people to learn on, but I notice the 9' Sea Lion XL can mount a center fin for beginners. I'd be curious to try one, at least.

Scott said...

The theft problem is an issue, but I'd cast another vote for the SUP. You'll never use the Start or Go, but you will use a SUP, for sure. It would be a blast at Nahant or Revere, with or without a sail.

I really like my Amundsen Aquaglide 11'3". I can get it planing with a 4.7 in under 20mph of wind. It's a nice thin, light board for it's size (about 25 lbs), displaces maybe 165 liters. Nice and wide, so very stable. But the thin rails and light weight make it nice in the surf.

I have a friend with a Starboard Whopper, which is also good fun. Shorter, wider. I like the Amundsen better, but that's just personal taste.

FWIW, I figured SUPing would be super boring, but I've found that I really enjoy it, both in waves and on flat water.

JSW225 said...

Unless you're a pro or experienced or extremely light weight SUPer, I wouldn't recommend any board under 10 feet. It may seem convenient, but you're sacrificing ease of SUP use in all conditions.

JSW225 said...

Also, it's growing in popularity. You'd probably be able to easily test out a couple at any local on the water rental / sales shop.

rod.r said...

Having recently sprung for lessons for my 10 year old, I totally underestimated the need for a centreboard of some kind to help them stay upwind. This is more of an issue for kids as the sails are so small they just won't drive a board upwind enough on their own.

The other issue, again for kids and lighter adults is that while the Starts are great for the initial learning phases, they are just too heavy to get planing without a decent sized sail.

After a few lessons, my 10 year old loves my Longrider but I think to get him actually planing, he'll use my wider and relatively lighter Go170 from 2002.

So all you need to find is a wide, long, light board with a centreboard....shouldn't be too hard :-)

Frank said...

This winter I bought a T293 Bic to teach my granddaughter to sail on. Last summer we tried a JP145(no dagger) and ran into the same problem as rod.r without the dagger. The t293 might fit in your van is wide and has a dagger. Hope the lessons go well as we need more windsurfers.

Brian said...

Is that shot a still from the Go Pro?

James Douglass said...

Scott & JSW- Hmm, I guess I shouldn't rule out a sup then.

Rod- I think you've hit it on the nose regarding the near-impossible trade-off between good daggerboard performance and lightweight / early planing.

Frank- Yeah, the T293 could be a good option. I'll have to measure and see what's the longest that will fit in my van.

Brian- Yep, it's a still shot from the GoPro. I think I had it set to take a picture every 10 seconds that day.

JSW225 said...

I actually have a 293 Bic (It's ~9'7 or so). Ever since getting my SUP, the Bic has been a Garage Queen.

jon kerner said...

I'd like to add a wrinkle to the dilemma. I have decided on a Kona One. I am 91kg, and had two lessons and hours of independent work. I tacked, I gybed, I made it home alive! Here's my question. Your calculator seems to say that a beginner has no business with a sail bigger than about 5.8. (My sail is a 5.8. But, would it make sense to get a 7.5 now for times when the wind is Beaufort One and won't really push the 5.8? Is it too risky should the wind pick up? Where's the wisdom here?

James Douglass said...

Hi Jon,

In Beaufort 1 wind you'll be going very slow regardless of your sail size, so 5.8 or 7.5 won't make much difference. You might rather use the 5.8 because it'll be lighter.

In Beaufort 2 or 3 the power of the 7.5 will kick in a little more, and you should be noticeably faster with it than with the 5.8.

In Beaufort 4 the 7.5 will start providing enough power to plane and waterstart, but it will be hard to manage without the harness.

In Beaufort 5 the 7.5 will be overpowered, but the 5.8 will start providing enough power to plane and waterstart.

In summary, I'd say start with the 5.8 and then add a 7.5 when you feel like the 5.8 is too easy and you want to go faster.


jon kerner said...

Thanks Jim. My experience is proving you right. Yesterday I was on Canandaigua's northern shore with my Kona One/5.8 setup. The pleasant breeze that was powering small sailboats as I rigged up then disappeared as I got to the beach. Optimistically, I got in the water and prepared for the end of the lull. Unfortunately, all that ensued was some light gusts. However, I found the 5.8 was a challenge when it started to power up in those ripple making gusts. This also demonstrated the wisdom in encouraging beginners to get w-i-d-e boards. If not for my previous paddleboarding experience, I think the Kona One would be discouragingly tippy. It is fine for me, but only because I am NOT new to boarding in water. Thanks for the good advice.