Ok, well now I have had a few requests about what gear I am using here at the Worlds…
So I think its good to write a really detailed response, because I really benefitted in my early days in Formula reading what the pros wrote about their gear – you follow the riders who ride your brands and piece together all the info from all the different riders – then make a few modifications for your own style and away you go … !!
Sails: Neil-Pryde (RS:6) 10.7m, 9.8m
Board: Starboard F160
Fins: Deboichet, R17-70 S- :: R13-73/70 S- :: R13-66 M
Ok, well first I’m using 10.7m as my biggest this year. I weigh around 74kgs at the moment so I haven’t been able to find any speed on the 11.6m, as I feel I’m not heavy enough to muscle it around the course. Also I find the 10.7 easier to pump on the plane which is important on the startline if its light, in big fleets. There are many good sailors using 10.7 as biggest this season, and you can make a few changes to how you rig the sail to get the best out of it. Try making the sail fuller, maybe you have a stiff mast, or put an extension inside your extender, maybe a mm or two less downhaul (not too much less – thats slow!) … then also make sure you crank the tack-strap so hard it folds the bottom of the sail (where the sail specs are written) up! A bit of tape around it helps it stay on if your strap is slipping after you’ve sailed for a little bit. Also make sure you pull on a lot of outhaul if your making your sail fuller… A full sail can help you point upwind, but too full and its drag and makes you slow…
Also after using 24″ harness lines for a while, I’m using 26-27″ this season…seems to be a lot better for me (I’m 185cm tall).
I’m working on the principle of smaller sails (less drag) and bigger fins (more power) so I think maybe I might have different fins to a few others. My main fin I use is the R13 73/70 S-. Despite everyone in the world saying that the R13-70 is the best all-round fin for the Starboard I couldn’t get this fin to work for me. I think maybe being a little lighter I’m not putting as much leverage onto the fin as a heavier guy, so not getting the results out of it. As a result I am using a 73 cutdown to 70 which gives me more power in the tip to get the angle in light winds. This can sometimes be a little slower downwind but I’m happy with my performance upwind. I am actually using this fin right up to 25knots believe it or not… It never spins out, never gets slippery – just consistent and I can push as hard as I want on it…
I just received a R17-70 S- before I arrived which I tested before the event, and I think I will be using this fin now in sub 12 knot conditions. This is a more technical fin, as I find I have to foot-off alot upwind to keep the speed on it. If it stalls, it takes a lot longer to regain the speed. ie. Its getting the point from the speed you are travelling, not from just pushing really hard on it like an R13. My upwind seems to be the same as my cutdown R13 according to my GPS testing and two-boat testing with Dennis, but the downwind is A LOT faster on the R17 which is why I will be using it.
Basically I only ever use the R13 cutdown (and now the R17) so the 66cm was just in case we get a typhoon or something! haha. Don’t think it will happen, but better safe than sorry. I normally register a 9.0m for psycho conditions but it was too hard to fit it on the plane to here. I would suggest a S or S- for a short fin, and maybe only use a 68cm as shortest on the starboard this year, as the tail is so wide (the 161 is even wider!!!) you don’t have enough pressure with the 66cm for upwind. I bought this fin a few years back anyhow, so its all I have…
All my fins are +8cm rake. Seems to work pretty nice for me.
Some other things: I use wide-tail backends on all my booms which were custom made by my Dad and myself, they are very similar in look to Antoine Albeau’s I think. A lot of people seem to be using them this year as the NP sails are a lot deeper than before. I like them alot but they’re not necessarily faster in straight-line boardspeed.
My mast-track is in the middle in all conditions, and my boom about 1″ from the top of the zipper on the pocket. I don’t change my boom height EVER. Even in strong winds because I’m more interested in what I’m doing with the fin, than the nose of the board getting ‘flighty’. To explain, in high winds if I’m using a 66cm fin, I’m usually trying to get more point out of it, because I feel that fin is too short, so I keep my mast-track in the middle and the boom high to keep a lot of pressure on the fin. Maybe that makes me out of control sometimes, but that is faster I think than not being able to point and being ‘safe’!
If you’re stuck with tuning and you think maybe your fin is too soft or too hard (before you sell it) a good idea is to think more of your boom height and mast-track position as ‘weighting’ and ‘unweighting’ the fin than about keeping the nose of the board down. If your fin is too soft, sometimes lowering the boom and maybe putting your footstraps forward a hole can unweight the fin downwind and puts less force on the fin, making it twist less geo-metrically, which can be faster because of less drag. ‘Geo-metric twist’ is a concept Boogie/C3 talks a lot about on the forums and that is why I think soft fins help lighter sailors upwind, particularly in light to medium winds to get more lift, but there is a trade-off on down wind speed because of the drag.
Just some ideas, nothing like 2-boat testing to figure this stuff out…I’m not an expert on fins so probably I will have the ‘gurus’ telling me this is all wrong, but this is what I’ve come up with from the “feel” of sailing it… its not gospel.
That’s about it. Hope it helps!