Life Begins at 40 (knots) – The Tools
As you should know by now, it the big 4-0 for me this year and I’m trying to hit 40 knots on a windsurfer.
The first stage is to get the right tools for the job so I’ve been doing my research and have come up with a list of kit.
I couldn’t decided between a dedicated speed board and a small slalom board. The dedicated speed board is very small, narrow and the fastest thing in a straight line under the right conditions. They are also pretty challenging to sail and don’t cope well with choppy water, gusty wind or poor technique. The slalom board is still quite a small board but being a little larger and slightly more user-friendly it is the fastest thing on the water in a wider range of conditions. It copes better with some chop and gusty winds and is a little more forgiving. Both are really fast in comparison to the wave boards that I usually sail. The slalom board is likely to be the fastest in most conditions, but when the conditions are perfect the speed board would be considerably faster.
Unable to make up my mind I decided that the only option was to get one of each! The speed board I’ve picked is a Fanatic Falcon Speed (242cm long, 48cm wide and 68 litres), which Boardwise in Cannock are getting for me. The slalom board is a Mistral SL Red Dot Team Edition (240cm long, 55cm wide and 80 litres) which was delivered on Sunday night by Jim from Puravida Boardriders.
The boards are crucial for top speeds, but the sails are just as important. The wave sails that I usually use are designed for ease of use, to feel light in the hands and be manouverable. Perfect for the jumps and gybes and general hectic sailing in waves, but lacking the power, stability and aerodynamics needed for top speeds. New sails were therefore needed too. I’d need a couple to cover a range of winds and my engines of choice ended up being a 6.3m North Warp and a 5.2m North Warp. These are stable, powerful sails that should be capable of speeds in excess of 40 knots.
Both arrived last night and I’ve just rigged them in the garden.
The 5.2m rigged beautifully but I wasn’t able to get the 6.3m rigged very well. Either I need a better mast for it or more strength to add more downhaul. The former is probably the case!
Fins are probably the most crucial part of a speed-sailors equipment. Top sailors will have loads of them and will fine tune them for the board and conditions in order to get maximum speeds. The shape, stiffness, size, foil-profile and rake are all important. I don’t have the time (or money) to bother with all of that, so a couple of speed fins will have to do. So far I have fins, Fanatic Falcon fins in 28cm and 30cm.
This windsurfing malarky isn’t cheap! New sails require new masts. All of my wave masts are RDM’s (Reduced Diameter Masts) which are stronger and therefore better able to cope with the demands of jumps and crashes in the waves. Speed sails however all have camber inducers in them which provide an aerodynamic, wing-like shape to the leading edge of the sail. These are designed to fit on Standard Diameter Masts (SDM’s) as the larger diameter mast improves the foil shape, so at least one new mast was needed (North Viper 380cm) for the smaller sail. Since rigging the new sails though it looks as though I may need one for the bigger sail as well.
Similarly the booms I have are designed for wave sails and would be a little too small and too flexible for use with such large powerful sails. A new Simmer Silver Series boom was in order!
This really is getting expensive now, and all to eek out a few extra knots of speed, I hope its worth it!