Sunday, January 26, 2014

Step-Tail Addition to SUP Finished - First Impressions

Today I finished the elaborate windsurfing gear project that I've been working on since before Christmas; converting a standard SUP board to a twin-fin WindSUP with a step-tail. It was a ton of work, and I probably won't attempt anything so fancy in the future. That said, I like how it turned out. The outline of the step-tail platform, with its little wingers leading into a swallow tail, looks like it fits well with the twin fin positions. I'm also pleased with how I was able to transition the rails smoothly into the stepped-tailed section, adding a sharper release but keeping them moderately thin and tucked. The rocker of the step tail is very flat, but I kept the same amount of vee in the bottom that it hard originally, which I hope will help keep the ride smooth at higher speeds. Shaping a smooth transition from curved rocker to straight rocker where the step-tail begins was the hardest part. I think I messed that up a bit, ending up with a slightly concave instead of perfectly flat transition.

 photo 168_zps6e239244.jpg  photo 166_zpsedc59875.jpg  photo 167_zps791b6723.jpg  photo 172_zps606d6565.jpg  photo 169_zpsb698fa40.jpg

After sanding and painting the board today, I took it for a paddle in tiny, glassy waves at Wiggins Pass. I couldn't detect any difference in stability, but paddling in flat water felt slightly different. It may be that the step tail and the two larger fins add a bit more drag in displacement mode. To my relief, the board seems to catch waves just as easily as before the change, and there's no greater tendency for the nose to pearl or anything like that. Once on a wave, the acceleration is good, and I think the board may be faster than before. Turning and going sideways on the wave still seems easy, but I'll need bigger waves to really get the feel for the speed and turning differences. I've got a busy week coming up, but I might be able to get out with a sail on Tuesday afternoon. What I really want to figure out is if the board will plane with a sail now.

Monday, January 20, 2014

SUP - Windsurf Modification + MUFin Wave Fin

Since getting back from a nice, long winter vacation I've been quite busy at work. A colleague is on paternity leave so I've been substituting for his two classes of 72 freshmen each, plus I have two classes of my own with 72 and 50 students, respectively. It's not too hard to teach the extra classes because they're the basic "Marine Systems" course that I've done before. It just means there's less time to work on other things, and therefore a little less time for hobbies and play. E.g., I'm still getting on the water but haven't made it to the blogging about it phase until now.

Anyway, one of my best sessions recently was one where I tried out a new Christmas present. My wonderful future in-laws got me a Maui Ultra Fins 26 cm Wave Fin; the ultimate wavesailing fin to match my freestyle-wave board, the Exocet Cross 106.

 photo 0105141523_zps803f5064.jpg

Astute blog readers might now be thinking, "I thought he already had the perfect fin for the Cross!" Indeed, a while back I proclaimed my MUFin No-Spin 32 to be the perfect fin for the Cross. I still think the 32 is perfect as a freeride / bump & jump fin for 5.5 - 6.8 sails, and it works ok in waves, too. But it's not as "loose" as a wave fin needs to be to make real tight turns and cuts on the steep part of a wave, and it's also more prone to scrape the bottom in shallow water where small waves break. I would sometimes use a 23 cm Weed-Wave fin on the Cross to get that looser feel and shallow water security. But like most weed fins, the weed-wave does everything a little worse than a regular fin of similar size. So I always felt like I wasn't experiencing the intended wavesailing performance of the Cross. Until now.

My first session with the MUFin Wave 26 was in 15-20ish mph side-onshore wind and 2-3' waves at Wiggins Pass. I used a 5.5 sail, which was at the lower end of its wind range and therefore rigged with a tight leach and loose outhaul. The fin got planing quickly and supported a good upwind angle without allowing spinout, but it definitely felt much looser than my 32 cm MUFin, and more "slippery efficient" than my weed-wave fin. There seemed to be a good balance between the edging effect of the fin and the edging effect of the board- you couldn't "ride the fin" like you would with a big freeride or race fin, but you didn't have to rely solely on the edge of the board to get upwind, either. The good blend of looseness and upwind competence helped when I needed to quickly veer upwind into a little ramp for a chop-hop. As expected, on the wave rides was where the fin felt most awesome. It let me turn the board really tight without dropping off a plane, which let me stay on the slope of the wave when turning. I'm hoping that helps me improve my wavesailing with more "surfing" style moves on the wave.

Most other sessions lately have been on the formula board or the Exocet WindSUP 11'8". I had a nice time SUPing the latter today at Wiggins Pass. The magic seaweed surf report was for 1-2' waves with 6 second period, which is pretty good for around here. I've found that any swell at least 1' high with 5 second period is rideable at Wiggins, where inlet-related sandbars perpendicular to the shoreline magnify the swells into nicely pealing peaks. Today the sandbar on the north side of the pass was working especially well. You could catch a wave near a channel marker about 200 yards out, stay on the "shoulder" of the wave all the way into the inlet, and then turn around and ride the outgoing tide back to the takeoff point. Woo hoo!

Back in "dry dock" on the patio, my modifications to the Angulo Surfa 10'4" sailable SUP are going pretty well, and I hope to be able to get it on the water by the end of this week. I routed out two rectangles in the step rocker section and filled them with high density "pour foam" before routing smaller grooves into the pour foam for the fin boxes.

 photo 0119141208_zps049972b8.jpg

I put fins in the boxes before I epoxied them in so I could be sure the boxes were at the correct angle. They came out nearly perfect, which was a huge relief. (At some point I might want to get matching fins so the board can be symmetrical, but I think if it works at all it will probably work fine with unmatched fins.)

 photo 0120141011_zps60a7aede.jpg

I've since glassed the hull, but I still need to glass the rails before the final stage of sanding and painting. The rails will be the trickiest part because they have some right angles that the glass cloth isn't going to want to bend to fit. I have no idea if the modifications will work like they're supposed to or not, but I'm hoping for a board that planes early and goes fast, turns well enough for jibing and waveriding, and can catch waves easily with either paddle or sail power.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

90 degrees F WARMER in Florida than New Hampshire

 photo 0104140814_zps04f8fe24.jpg

 photo bonitaspringwx5jan14_zps1524756f.jpg

I'm back in Bonita Springs after a wonderful, long, winter vacation. The first vacation stop for me was my folks' place in Asheville, North Carolina. We did lots of talking and walking in the Appalachian Mountains, and I got to catch up with my sister and her adorable 5 and 3 year old nieces. It seemed plenty chilly there, with frost every morning and some light snow that didn't stick.

Of course, that chill was nothing compared to the next stop, at Rhonda's folks' place in Hudson, New Hampshire. There was a decent layer of crusty old snow on the ground when I arrived, and it was soon complemented by a foot of fluffy new stuff. The kind of snow you get when it's far below freezing is sure different from the typical Washington State "mashed potatoes" snow I remember from childhood. For one thing, it doesn't consistently stick to trees, roofs, or deck railings, so you can't easily tell how deep it is on the ground. For another thing, it makes funny squeaky noises when you pack it down by walking or driving over it.

Two sets of my old cross-country skis were conveniently stored in Rhonda's mom's attic, and I was delighted to be able to use them to explore the woods and parks around Hudson with my future stepfather in law. One pair of the skis was the typical long, skinny xc style, with "New Nordic Norm" boots and bindings. The other pair was a bit wider and shorter with metal rails and "New Nordic Norm BC" boots and bindings. I definitely prefer the latter for making new tracks and for woods trails with lots of ups and downs and turns.

I had planned to do some downhill skiing / snowboarding with my future brother-in-law but we called that off because the forecast HIGH for the mountain that day was below zero F and I didn't have the gear to not get frostbite in such cold. I still got my board out of the garage and walked it up Rhonda's grandma's hill a few times for the heck of it. The effort / payoff ratio of that activity reminded me a lot of SUP wave riding. The thrills by themselves don't quite outweigh the effort, but when you add in the exercise endorphins and the outdoor nature zen, it's a win.