A friend had his rig and board separate in the impact zone recently, which got me thinking about my longstanding choice in mast feet and how it would be a good topic for the Peconic Puffin to tackle (or muck up.) Let us sing the praises of the two-bolt mastfoot, which I believe to be superior to the one bolt mastfoot without exception or qualification. There have been plenty of debates on the topic (and as a gearhead I have followed them all) but I believe there is a clear answer that is right for everybody. (I must be a jerk to believe that, yes? So if you're playing at home, please reply with why I'm wrong ASAP so I can learn something.)
Anyhow here is my reasoning:
1. (The big one.) A two-bolt uni is far less likely to separate from the board than a one bolt. The first time I saw rig separation I was a mile from shore, sailing about 100 yards behind a friend in 4.0 conditions in heavy chop. All of a sudden he was sinking...I thought "what a lull!" (He was on a sinker). But actually his board had shot out from beneath him when his mastfoot slipped out of the track. A gust picked up his board and tossed it 50 feet downwind, from where it proceeded to continue away from him. Fortunately I was there to sail to his board and stop its escape. Most single bolt slip-outs can be blamed on the sailor (didn't tighten the mastfoot enough, didn't wash out sand that was holding the foot in place giving the illusion of a tight fit etc) but...do you want to blame or do you want to keep your rig attached to your board? There is also the rare breakage of the mast track nut (I had an industry rep once tell me "it never happens". I told him my story of the nut from my WSH mast foot cracking in half (happily I was on the beach.) With two bolts, if you've somehow failed to tighten the thing and one of the bolts somehow manages to slide out your rig will still be attached, and you'll notice the flopping long before its possible for the second nut to slide out.
2. You don't have to remove the mast foot in order to roof rack or bag the board. Just pop out the uni joint and leave your mast foot where it's presumably dialed in for the board. Speaking of which,
3. The two-bolt mast foot does not limit your useful mast track range. How can I say this when the two-bolters most definitely limit the extreme forward and backward range? Here's how: I was lucky enough to have a conversation with Peter Thommen, master board builder (Bjorn Dunkerbeck's board builder in Bjorn's heyday) about mast tracks and the proper position to set the foot of a mast track. Thommen said that mast tracks offer way more range than anyone should use, that they are as long as they are because they need a long mast track so there's enough material to attach the thing strongly to the board. He said for any given windsurfer on a given board there's only about 3 cm range of mast track adjustment that benefits the board and rider no matter what sail is used on it, and that board designers center the mast track around that ideal area for an average sized windsurfer. I found this a revelation at the time. Thommen continued "so if you ever are out on the water and find the board seems to be sailing in perfect balance, mark that spot, and never move the uni more than 3 cm in any direction from it." If he's right (and having played with this for years since that conversation I believe he is) then all any of us need is about an inch and a half of range. Unless you find that you own a board that is only dialed in when the mast foot is jammed all the way forward (or all the way back) for one sail (in which case if this theory is true then all your sails should be rigged way forward or way back on that board) there's no reason to need all that range. For myself, I own two boards that I sail a lot of sails on ("Candy 77"...a 77 liter freestyle wave, I sail from 3.4 to 5.5, and "Calamity Too" a 109 liter freestyle board that I've sailed 5.0-7.0) I've been able to dial in with two bolt mast tracks.
4. If you own several boards, you can own many mast feet bases but fewer unis. We have 6 boards total (all with two bolt bases) but half as many unis. The newest uni is reserved for wave sailing, the oldest for nonplaning freestyle in the creek, and a "middle" uni for any non-wave sailing (if the Mrs. and I are sailing together she gets the wave uni because NOTHING IS TOO GOOD FOR MY WIFE!)
I know two people who were rescued by boats a mile from shore due to rig separation...they could not swim fast enough to catch their boards as they blew downwind. That will always underscore for me the best reason to choose two bolts over one.
(Photo: A Chinook two-bolt mast base. This one features a rubber U-joint. I prefer the tendon...some other folks opt for the mechanical joint.)
Mike Burns wasn't kidding when he said the forecast for the Outer Banks was tremendous. Fortunately this morning lightened up a bit, so a few hours of 4.7ish sailing was available for the early birds (Ryan, Robert, and me on a 4.5). By late morning the switch got flipped, though, and it back on the three meter sails for all of us.
I took the afternoon off, hoping to spend the saved energy in the waves today. Out the window of our house Mike was throwing spocks, shove-its, and most impressively to me (I'm such a geek) helitacks on a 3.7 in 30 knots. Must try that today. Jeff and Tedrowe plugged away as well
Windfest begins Today, and there's been some talk in the windsurfing blogosphere of a windsurfing blogger summit (or more humbly, the chance that some of us will get to meet in person.) I said hi to Lost In Hatteras' Andy Tuesday. I'd actually met him before but hadn't put the two together. We'll see what turns up today...the winds are already blowing!
I was by the windsurfing shop yesterday and saw people there who take the winter off from windsurfing. It can only mean that the mainstream season is close upon us, which can only mean it's time to start thinking about equipment, which can only mean it's time for a swap meet! At least that's how I see it. I love swap meets.
One reason to stop by (even if you think you don't need to) is a little event tucked away on the Windsurfing Hamptons calendar (I swear, I see Jon Ford all the time but he doesn't tell me stuff!) On August 10th there's a notation for Vintage Racing. The Peconic Puffin will dedicate a future post to the particulars, but the essence of Vintage Racing is windsurfing on ancient equipment (ideally pre 1990 longboards) in light winds. If you've never done this it's surprisingly fun, and anyone who can uphaul can participate. But you'll need an old board. More details to come...
My feet are size 10 1/2 (American) and standard width. In 16 years of windsurfing I've never had any issue with footstrap width, whether I was sailing barefoot, with booties, with winter booties, whatever. Until I bought my new Fanatic. The board (which I otherwise love) has its footstrap inserts set too narrow for comfort unless I'm sailing barefoot.
Is there a standard width for footstrap inserts on production windsurfing boards? Apparently not, based on some measurements I took on Sunday. Consider these widths, in centimeters:
JP Freestyle Wave 93 (2006) 16.5
JP Freestyle 109 (2005) 16.2
Naish 8' 11" (2000) 15.5
Fanatic Freewave 78 (2008) 14.25
So my JP Freestyle has almost an inch more room than the Fanatic.
What to do? It's easy to compensate for on the back footstrap (just run the strap one extra hole for booties, and two extra holes for drysuit booties) but is not so easy on the front straps. I tried running the outer screw one hole forward of standard placement for extra room...this worked fairly well for reaching and jumping but I did notice the increased angle when jibing...it tripped up my footwork a bit. Between the additional increase in width needed for my drysuit booties and a desire to run the straps at their conventional angle, I took things much further, and now run my front footstraps all the way to the "outer" set of holes. (While this may sound nuts, remember that this board's straps are factory set to be almost an inch narrower than JP's for example.) I think the next step is to place a large washer under the outer screw, to take up some of the extra footstrap room. I'm also going to experiment with aftermarket straps to see if I can improve the situation.
As soon as the water warms up I'll probably restore the board to it's "factory settings" and only sail barefoot. I love sailing this board* but I'm just a little annoyed with dealing with the footstraps. I got lazy about extending the rear strap to accomodate heavy booties, and paid for it a couple of weeks ago when I got stuck in the strap during a fall, and tore a ligament in my foot.
(Photo: The footstraps now span both sets of holes. This actually works well when I'm in thick booties, and I have regular width feet.)
I sail in a world of blue drysuits. It seem like everybody has a blue Bare. I'd been going drysuitless for years (rocking a 5/3 Neil Pryde semi for all it was worth) but after a year of hearing the boys in blue praise their drysuits, and remembering my old blue Bare of yore, I decided to take the plunge. When I placed the order Jonathan Ford said to me "you'll love the drysuit. But it's gonna be red."
"Red" I asked?
"I don't understand."
"They're red now. Only red. Still want one?"
"What do you think?"
"I think you should get one."
So I ordered it.
I've been wearing it for a few months now. It's great. Scott said "red makes more sense!" We're all worried about being visible, bobbing around in the water separated from our gear or perhaps unconscious hoping that someone sees us and rescues us before we slide down into the icy depths of Davy Jones' locker...
(stop stop stop)
Certainly it helps to be visible, anyway, and red stands out better than blue. The future is red.
Note 1: Word is that Bare is discontinuing the venerable Polarheat drysuit. If you're a fan of the product, you should order one (in red) ASAP.
Note 2: Lily and Dana (the ladies of Napeague) wear drysuits that are not blue. They sail in polychrome Kokotats. But they don't windsurf when it's cold enough for me to wear my drysuit. (Hopefully I will not get in trouble for writing that.)
Note 3: The Future is Red is the name of a friend's blog. Her blog has nothing to do with windsurfing, so you know it must be good if I read it.
The current issue (March) of New England Windsurfing Journal features an article by Alfred Stukuls titled "Basement Boarding". Alfred was not content with his rate of improvement as a progressing windsurfer (I am SO with you, Alfred!) He determined that balancing himself on the board was a skill he needed to improve. So he built a micro-pool in his basement, twelve feet long, three feet wide, and one foot deep. He filled it with water, put in his Mistral Escape, hung a few safety ropes to make sure he didn't crack his head open in a fall, and now he can practice moving about a floating board anytime he can get to the cellar!
Does it help? Alfred says in the article that a recent trip to Aruba proved his creation's value.
Wait until he figures out how to rig a fan down there...
Some windsurfers and surfers worry about sharks, some don't, and some lie about it. I myself don't worry about sharks, but I prefer to waterstart as fast as humanly possible when I fall in the ocean.
For those windsurfers who do worry about being eaten alive or losing a limb to these fish, shark repelling technology would be a welcome bit of gear to add to one's quiver. Unfortunately the stuff is still in beta. Or alpha. Engadget reports on a test of a new electronic shark repelling system from Australia called Shark Shield. They put the thing on a surfboard and sent it out into sharky waters off of South Africa. A Great White swam up and bit the device.
The idea was inspired by Dana Miller's wind chimes created from broken masts. I'd seen some he'd made at Barton Decker's shop in Hatteras, and he also wrote a piece about recycling masts as art in New England Windsurfing Journal. I made this a few years ago when I snapped an old boom windsurfing on the Little Peconic. The challenging part was figuring out how to cut up the tailpiece to get the nice descending lengths of tube.
I like being able to see and touch windsurfing gear from my past. I've sailed miles from shore in stormy seas with these bits of carbon tube, had adventures and a lot of fun. Vibrations from those times are now here in our home.
(note one: back then I'd never broken a mast. I often felt unmanly about this missing experience in my windsurfing resume. Then finally last year I broke one in the ocean, and so felt much better about myself. It was an expensive bit of self-confirmation. But now I've got mast stock as well as another boom tailpiece to work with. I await inspiration.)
(note two: you know what to do if you break your boom on the water, don't you? If not, here are your options: If the arm that broke is not on the side you need to sail back to shore, then carefully waterstart or uphaul...you don't want to slice yourself open on any exposed sharp bits of aluminum or carbon...and sail back while babying the rig. Planing is possible, but don't go full speed. If the broken boom arm is on the side you need, the conventional wisdom is to unthread the outhaul, then removed the boom from the mast (you may also need to detach the mast for a second to clear the uphaul) and re-attach it upside down. Twist the harness lines so that you can hook in if you need to, and sail back to shore. Or do what the pros do...waterstart clew first with the good arm and sail back in. If you can't manage any of this, flag down another windsurfer and see if they can't ferry out another boom.)
ATT's 5.8 digital telephone model EP5995 has a windsurfer screen background. A sailor crosses the screen on what looks like a 5.0, and waves to the camera. He might be in Bonaire, at the far end of Lac Bay by the mangroves.
I bought this phone for our home without knowing about the windsurfer. Really. Really truly.
If you're looking for a windsurfing gift for the windsurfer who has everything, this could be it.
Adjust footstraps on windsurfing boards. In the house.
There are several new Fanatics on the beach these days, and we owners have been noticing that the footstraps are a bit narrow for booty sailing. Both Jon Ford and Jason have suggested hacking the situation by moving the front screw of the front straps forward one hole (where it would normally be if the entire footstrap was moved forward one increment) and the back screw of the rear strap back one hole. I have now done this, and hope to judge the results tomorrow morning.
I've takent to referring to the board as "Seventy Seven" which is kind of short for 77th Heaven, a name suggested by Litoralis, who comes to us from sailboat land (sailboat water?) Litoralis chimed in back when I was searching for a name for this brilliant little board.
In the previous post I discussed my fascination with the homemade freestyle fin phenomenon...in particular how small they are compared to traditional fins, and that commercial freestyle fins were ignored by true freestylers. All the responses were along the lines of "are you nuts...OF COURSE you must have a super short fin!"
So here a photo of mine. I've found it challenging, but it works. I like Mike Burns' suggestion of the fin being wrist to middle finger length (kind of like harness lines being elbow to wrist length) but my fin is too short for that.
Consider these two fins. Both are attached to JP 109 Freestyle boards. One fin and board belongs to me, the other to freestyle lunatic (and ABK-meisterAndy Brandt. See if you can tell which is which.
Whenever I'm around serious freestyle windsurfers, the thing that stands out most about their gear is their fins. They're all "modified". Modified" is a polite term...they're amputated fins. They are preposterously short.
What about commercially available freestyle fins? "Too big" everyone says. "You have to make your own!" Long Island's Mike Burns has been seen sailing on a cut down wave fin. I can't quite make out what the nub that Mr. Brandt is on was before it was cut away. It seems to me that fin manufacturers could do well for themselves by charging full price for these half-fins. In the meantime, the next time you wreck a fin, just cut away the bulk of it, and celebrate your new piece of gear...you're now the owner of a custom freestyle fin.
(Yes, I know the red 12" fin is not properly seated in the finbox. I just stuck it in there to provide scale.)
I'd heard and seen photos of Rush Randle sailing a windsurfer with a hydrofoil coming out of the finbox...I think that was about nine or ten years ago, but then I was checking out the video below, and five minutes in (after watching guys and gals planing into duckjibes on longboards back in the 80's) I see a guy sailing this creation.
People did all kinds of things on longboards back in the day.
There's a new (new to the Puffin, anyway) website dedicated to longboards that's worth checking out. Longboards themselves are worth checking out, if you haven't sailed one recently. If you see me with my ancient Superlight come over and ask if you can take it for a spin. The moment you start gliding you're going to want one!
Here's the video. The hydrofoil stuff is about 4 minutes in. Also don't miss the funboard song shortly afterwards! I believe it's in German (the rest of the video is)...would love a translation of that song.
The video was posted in Youtube as being from 1981...I don't know how accurate that is. The rigs certainly are from that era.
How often do you buy a new board or sail and get the conditions to sail it right away? Not often...that's just not the luck of the windsurfer. Particularly when it's high-wind gear. But I hit the jackpot on Saturday when my Fanatic Freestyle Wave 77 was on the water 30 minutes after I picked it up at the shop.
"77 liters!?" the Wolf exclaimed when I showed him my new board. It sounds so small, but the board handled just fine and seems to pop onto a plane easily.
"Lets have all the gumpf...length, freeride/all out slalom? etc etc weight etc etc and most of all comments on your christening run!" commented Bunty when she learned of my new ride. Check it out:
It's 7 feet 9 1/2 inches long (remember when 8' 6" was short?) just under 13 pounds according to the specs from Fanatic, and planed off lightly powered. At 56 cm it's a little wider than my previous high wind board (a Naish 8'5" Wave that's for sale cheap), which helps the board sail "bigger" than its size suggests.
"Short and wide is the way to ride!" opined Peconic Jeff after he took the board for a spin.
It's a freestyle wave design, which I opted for because I'm doing at least as much bump and jump sailing in this wind range as I am wave sailing, but it jibes more tightly than any board I've ever sailed. I have to get my thoughts together before starting the jibe, because it all happens so fast, but the actual carve is forgiving. The virgin session was on a 5.0, powered to overpowered.
I'd been sweating the "pure wave vs freestyle wave" question for much of the summer. I lightened up about it a bit after this episode, and then was more focused on the volume question. When at the recent ABK clinics Andy Brandt mentioned that Sally should be on a 77 liter board instead of her 93 when she's on a 4.0 the decision was made. A 77 liter high-wind board would be just perfect for the Mrs.
"I love when that happens! True love at its best!" says Jill Marr. (Jill and George share all their gear. George is wise in the ways of windsurfing marriage.)
But the talk about 77 doesn't end there. Sally's online handle in the Peconic Puffin is Surfergirl777, so the cosmos appears to be fully in accord with this purchase.
Now the new challenge: To name the board. It's replacing Little Wings Two, so I could just go with Little Wings Three (Little Wings was an F2 Axxis 258). Sally (who hasn't named a board in quite awhile, though she used to be into it) thinks that something with sevens is appropriate. I like to sail a board several times to see if it suggests a name to me...that may be the path, though I'm open to suggestions. For now, I'm just eager to get back on her.