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Equipment obsessions
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Joined: 24 Dec 2013
Posts: 1005

PostPosted: Tue Jan 07, 2014 11:03 pm    Post subject: Equipment obsessions Reply with quote

Equipment obsessions.

A little background. Here in Chicago, in the blues guitar world, I know guys who obsess over axes, amps, effects and blow far to much money year after year. As a player since 1979 I have avoided most mistakes in buying equipment and have saved a lot of money in the process. With windsurfing, I donít want to go down that road, but I need to make some changes and that road may have started.

I started in 1993 with an F2 comet slalom 150 liter, (64cm x 10 fuc%n ft!) If you look at the design it has a centerboard (never use), but the tail is really long, narrow and sharp, which in relatively flat water can go pretty darn fast because I am so far back on the board. For 20 years that was my ride until last Summer. Unfortunately, I had only two good Summers to learn in 95 and 96 in Newport Ri, before life changed. Itís where I learned to gybe it, waterstart it and rock out back in the straps. I even rode it in waves every now and then. Since then I averaged about 7 or 8 times a year if I am lucky on Lake Michigan and inland lakes in Wisconsin. That is about 112 sessions in 16 years. Not good. Pathetic actually, and not allowing for any improvement. In those 16 years I basically abandoned water starting and gybing (every now and then I do both) due to a 1/4 mile slogging zone with gusty offshore S.W. winds (I canít sail the onshore waves except in modest conditions). When I get to the wind line, I may or may not have the right sail, etc., and by then I am to worried about safety in getting back that I rarely attempt gybes for fear of getting blown out over the horizon into even bigger winds. I would tack, run after run after run and uphaul when needed so as not to loose upwind ground and perform the walk of shame (never have). What I really like is the sensation of back in the straps pushing the board to the maximum speed possible given the conditions. I feel in total control then. Until a possible faceplant (with helmet). Never had any problems using harness or straps. Typically after about 3 or 4 runs my forearms are toast. Again pathetic. This has been my windsurfing life. Limited ďcourt timeĒ.

Last Summer I bought sight unseen a 130 liter JP Funride (255 x 72) which is a whole lot more stable in the Michigan chop than the F2 comet and has become my new ďmain boardĒ, but it seems to have a limited top end, doesnít turn as quick as the old F2, not sure if its any faster either, and I probably over litered it, but it is more comfortable. I have retired the Comet for sure. My only other board is an older Hifly Free 118 liter (272 x 64), but donít sail it much because it is unstable to uphaul, and is a little squirrelly at times to get going out in the gusts. The few times I have matched the right sail and pushed it, it sure does move! But mostly I donít sail it. Why? Donít know.

My question is, letís assume I canít put in more time to learn better waterstarts and gybes, that I just want to continue blasting in the straps. What would be some good board sizes and options be to get me to through the next 10 year phase? Say I only get to have 2 boards.

My guess is you guys will say keep the JP Funride, sail the Hifly and work on the starts and gybes (Iíll try). I would like to keep the Funride 130 as light wind board (I think), and nix the Hifly 118 for something a little wider that will give me the speed but with more stability? After being on the 72 wide Funride I have learned width brings stability, but maybe I didnít need all those liters? Some of you have recommended Hawks, XCross, etc. Maybe nix both boards and buy a single new one in the right range? The other confusing things is all the categories and widths. Freeride, move, race, slalom, sport. I canít imagine my old Comet Slalom was really a slalom, but maybe that is what I like? Seems like many new boards cross many of these lines and are even getting wider. (Jp offers a ďMagic RideĒ at 118 liters x 76 for instance.). Thinking my magic numbers are somewhere around 110 - 120 liters, 68-74 wide.

I have 4 decent 2005 circa sails ranging from 4.8 to 7.5, turn 52 this Summer and weight 148 lbs. BTW, it was -18 F here in Chicago the other day. Pathetic again.

Board ideas and thoughts? Other than move to S.F. and get a shrink. Please be kind.
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Joined: 29 Jun 2008
Posts: 67

PostPosted: Wed Jan 08, 2014 6:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

quick check on Fun Ride says:

"Its top speed is impressive and the board remains very controllable across chop. With numerous usable footstrap inserts, there is plenty of room to grow as your skills progress. It is a little narrower than the other boards, its size making it tippier at slow speeds. The trade-off is that it has a better top-end wind range, feeling very well-balanced with smaller sails. The narrowness makes jibing trickier as the board is more sensitive to foot placement, but once you have your jibe worked out this sensitivity lets you get aggressive and tighten the arc of the jibe."

maybe with some TOW, foot strap positions, fin changes, bigger sails, etc the FUN and SPEED will go back into this board for you ??
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Joined: 12 Dec 1999
Posts: 18411

PostPosted: Wed Jan 08, 2014 9:16 am    Post subject: Re: Equipment obsessions Reply with quote

frederick23 wrote:
I averaged about 7 or 8 times a year if I am lucky ... gusty offshore S.W. winds (I canít sail the onshore waves except in modest conditions). ... abandoned water starting ...Never had any problems using harness ... Typically after about 3 or 4 runs my forearms are toast.

Fred, nothing in your post matters as much as this: you will die on Lake Michigan if you continue to sail offshore winds with or (especially) without a world-class waterstart.

Presuming you STOP THAT $#!+, let's consider two other factors. If you were using your harness right, your arms would last all day, as their sole purpose is turning around. Adjust your line position on the boom properly (move them an inch at a time towards whichever arm you must pull with) and you will no longer use your arms in reaches. They will just hang off the booms, primarily because we have no pockets, so to speak.

Now, about that 7-8 days of sailing per year, and your use of the word, "lucky". Waiting for "luck" mires your learning curve in -18 degree molasses. Most of us spend a LOT of time watching forecasts, and MAKE time to sail whenever it's meteorologically possible. Hell, yes, it might impact our careers and families. My earnest response: So? I can think of almost no career that would prelude sailing more often; sounds more like a time management (manageable) or priorities (personal choice) constraint.

I'm not deliberately ignoring your actual question; I just no longer keep up with boards in your size range. However, you will live longer on the biggest board you can manage, especially if it has a centerboard to get you back to Illinois when your offshore wind backs off to 1 mph.

Mike \m/
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Joined: 23 Aug 2001
Posts: 1015

PostPosted: Wed Jan 08, 2014 9:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your fastest way to have fun again is to get some good instruction at a place that fits your skills. For example, take an ABK camp in Hatteras, Corpus Christi, or Bonaire. 3 to 5 days of instruction may just get you back to waterstarting and into the straps. All these places have good rental equipment, too, so you can try before you buy.

Right now, your board seems to be holding you back. You want it big and stable for your current skills and conditions, but it is too big for your weight to really have fun on, except perhaps in marginal conditions. With 10 sessions a year, your skills and confidence won't improve much, so you'd probably not be happy with a smaller board (otherwise, you'd have fun on the HiFly Free). Yes, you could probably find something you like a bit better, but doing an ABK camp would do a lot more to increase your fun on the water. Doing, for example, the May camp in Hatteras would cost you less than getting a new board ($550 for the camp, about $200 for housing, plus transportation and perhaps equipment rental).
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Joined: 06 Jul 2001
Posts: 4580
Location: Shipsterns Bluff, Tasmania. Colorado

PostPosted: Wed Jan 08, 2014 10:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

the lesson suggestions are noteworthy, a lot to be said for learning to waterstart/other desirable maneuvers in shallow warmish water.

noteworthy not ANY answer to your question

125L--135L would be my answer.

Board wise several types and then several companies offer.

most excellent here:

K4 fins
4Boards....May the fours be with you
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Joined: 30 Jul 2007
Posts: 380

PostPosted: Wed Jan 08, 2014 10:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome back ... Here are my (intermediate) thoughts:

1). I would think a 120-130 L freeride or cross board would be a good fit, which is about what you have. I like James Douglas' calculator, so you might want to try it:

The tabs along the bottom of the spreadsheet allow you to look at boards, sails and fins (more on that in a moment). On names, we are all biased by what we know or own. I love Goya ( probably just because I think they look awesome), but I've sailed the Exocet nano and various recent JPs and liked them, too.

2). Heed Isobars' advice; nudge those harnass straps around, because arm fatigue should be gone/ minor when using a harness. You just need to find the correct balance point.

3). It sounds like you just need a quick waterstart refresher. Any other sailers around to watch you start a couple times? Or for you to watch.? That can really help. Of course, you can also buy Dashers's The ABCs or Waterstarting for the full (re) tutorial. If you were doing them in the past, you'll be banging them out quickly again.

4). For getting back up wind, the dagger in your old board, or making sure you have the right size fin in your funboad can make a huge difference, especially in lite winds. I was having some trouble getting upwind with a stock fin, but a slightly larger one had me pointing exactly where I needed to go (seemed to help planing, too). The link above provides fin size guidance, but any good windsurfing store should also be able to get you the right sized fin.
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Joined: 06 Nov 2008
Posts: 380
Location: Cedar Falls, IA

PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2014 1:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We both live in the midwest where the windspeed fluctuates all day long & the seasons with the best winds, spring & fall, have colder temperatures that are not helpful for learning water starts. I live in Iowa & sailed 102 days in 2013 because I'm retired so I have the opportunity, AND ALSO, because I enjoy all of our midwest conditions, including 5-8 mph days.

My advice is as follows:
Your best bet for increasing windsurfing time in the midwest is to learn to enjoy our fluctuating winds and our lighter summer winds. You can do that by embracing bigger rigs, longer boards, & daggerboards.

1. Learn to use the daggerboard on the Comet; learn to use a harness line length that actually does save your arms; & add up to a 9.0 for

2. If you add another board, find a longboard such as a Mistral Equipe or a Kona One Design and really increase your sailable days. (Question whether chasing after Gorge or wave performance is the best use of your opportunities now, compared with adapting to equipment that makes the most of midwest conditions.)

3. Add a mountain board (& protective gear for you) and learn to sail in parking lots year round. And/or add gear for snow & ice sailing. (I have 3 days of snow sailing in this year so far.)

Whichever way you decide to go in windsurfing, all of us are rooting for you.
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Waterat Pat

Joined: 10 Apr 2000
Posts: 166

PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2014 8:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some good advice posted up. You might dig Bird Island Texas at your skill level if you decide to take a road trip. Warm flat water is perfect for learning new skills.
One thing not mentioned is you said your sails are 2005 era. The older sails were really pretty terrible. While these may be ok, sails can be had darn cheap if they are more than 3 yrs old. Wave sails are the most controllable and easy handling and for the lighter guys like yourself look for the the words control in the description. The power wave sails cater to the bigger guys.
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Joined: 24 Dec 2013
Posts: 1005

PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2014 9:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent advice so far. Thank you! I need to make more time on the water for sure! Best advice yet. I can do that. Learning better skills seems to be the key. Great idea on the camp. Sounds like I COULD find a perfect board that would be slightly better and faster, but nothing compared to getting off the skill plateau I am on. I'll keep searching, maybe I can try a few different ones at a camp or on the beach to test. The forearm thing is mostly nerves, no windsurf muscles, uphauling, etc. It's usually really cold water here which doesn't help settle things. When I am in the harness and straps and fully powered up, that's my forearm relaxation period. I can shake the muscles out. Everything is cool then with no pressures. This sailing site on Lake Michigan is safe as long as you have common sense and know your boundaries. Been on it for 20 years without a problem. I would never go out without someone either watching or sailing with. Usually there are many.
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Joined: 27 Sep 2011
Posts: 254

PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2014 9:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great points by Del, especially #2.
I sail Lake Michigan almost exclusively and find the Exocet WindSup 11'8 very versatile and fun and yes, that includes offshore days too, you won't die as some suggest. It's a load to carry to the beach but I'll promise you'll quickly find it to be worth the small bit of extra off water effort.
The 11'8 will make onshore days especially fun, riding swell and small waves is made easy by the big board.
Your arms should be good for many hours, check the harness line placement and be sure to commit enough to the harness. A great tip for finding the correct harness line placement with a particular sail:
With the sail laying flat on the ground, you should be able to balance the rig with two fingers between the harness lines on the boom. The Guy Cribb technique using an elastic line works very well too.‎ Other great tips included in this PDF as well.
I hate to spend all your money but I'd highly recommend updating to a newer sail, something new or at least from the last few years.
Best of luck!
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