Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Formula Board Test Run Video

Last week I got a new, used, "formula" windsurfing board- a Starboard Formula 135, model year 2001. I had been in the market for an early planing shortboard to match my new 9.5 sail, and this one was a steal at Ace Performer.

Ironically, this new toy is the oldest of the four formula boards I've owned during my windsurfing career, due to multiple cycles of quitting and restarting formula windsurfing. It's also the smallest, at just 85 cm wide and 135 liters volume. It probably wouldn't be competitive on the racecourse with a modern, 100 cm wide formula board, but I'm not competitive on the racecourse, anyway, and 85 cm is enough width to get quite good early planing. The dimensions and volume of the F135 actually match closely with modern light-wind slalom boards, which max at 85 cm wide and are similarly thin in cross section. So I've been thinking of the board as a poor man's light-wind slalom board.

The standard fin length for a 100 cm wide formula board is 70 cm, but that would be overkill for an 85 cm wide board. The F135 was originally marketed with a 58 cm fin, but the secondhand board I got came with a 65 cm fin, which I worried would be too long. I tried it for the first time (well, the first time in decent wind) on Sunday. The 65 cm fin wasn't unmanageable, but I think the board will be faster with a 58. I'm trading the 65 for another windsurfer's 58, which I think will be perfect. Anyway, here's a video of my test session at Wiggins Pass in Naples, FL. The sail is my 9.5 Ezzy Cheetah. The wind is side-offshore around 9-13 knots. The songs are by Tomas Walker and by the Ramones.

11-18-12 F135 Test Run from James Douglass on Vimeo.

One thing I notice looking at the video is how much the bottom of the sail flexes, twists and flaps. I think part of that is the product of it being a camless sail with durable rod battens instead of stiff tube battens. Another part may be the way I'm using a pulley hook through the clew grommet for my adjustable outhaul. I've ordered another kind of pulley system that's integrated with the grommet, and I think that may help stabilize the back end of the sail. Stay tuned.


Serg said...

how did 9.5m sail feel? did you find it heavy at times?

Jeff said...

When will you use the formula vs your new WindSup?

joe windsurfer said...

looks like the board goes well in light wind with your weight .. for me 85 cm to 95 cm i call FreeFormula as opposed to 100 cm Formula boards :) let us know how the sail works out AND how the smaller fin works out

joe windsurfer

James Douglass said...

Serg- The 9.5 Cheetah feels very light and manageable compared to other 9.5+ sails that I've used in the past. It rigs on a 490 mast, and it has some high tech lightweight material in the upper part of the sail.

Jeff- I'll use the WindSUP when the wind is <10 knots without waves, or <15 knots with waves. And for SUP.

Joe- I fit the 58 cm fin yesterday evening and tried it out in breezy, onshore conditions averaging around 15 mph. It was awesome.

joe windsurfer said...

glad the 58 is great - it was anticipated :)

Peter lightfoot said...

Why the formula board? Just curious as I'm in the market for a light wind board to go with my North s type 9.5m and can't make my mind up over a used formula board or large freeride board...

James Douglass said...

Peter- There were three and a half reasons I chose the formula board.

1. Formula boards are the absolute best planing boards, so they insure you're getting the full planing potential from your big sails.
2. The price was right on this one, just $400 with the fin.
3. I wanted to have a board I could use in recreational races like the inlet to inlet race.
3.5 This formula board was an older model only 85 cm wide, so it's actually more similar to a modern jumbo freeride board than a modern formula board. I can use it with a 58 cm fin instead of a 70 cm fin, which makes it easier in shorebreak and shallow waters.

Peter lightfoot said...

Thnx for the reply, sounds like three and a half good reasons. I'm leaning towards the formula as it would be quite well suited to my local Algarve conditions in the summer ie: 12-16kts and would allow me to launch up the river (Guaudiana) when the beaches are packed.:)

Peter lightfoot said...

I notice you said somewhere something along the lines of "no more wooden decks" Just that I got my eyes on a Starboard Formula 159 with wood decks! are they not a good idea?

James Douglass said...

Hi Peter,

I had the F158 and it was nice. The F159 was supposed to be even better. The wooden deck is great when a board is brand new but it doesn't age as gracefully as a carbon or glass deck, especially if the board is often in the sun or in a wet / hot / cold environment like on a roof rack with no board bag. The bottom surface is also wood, painted white, so you'll notice little cracks in the bottom paint forming as the wood finish underneath it warps. There are ways to refinish it, but they involve more complex sanding, staining, buffing, polishing, etc. than I would care to deal with.