First things first, I need to say thanks (bigtime) to Alan Bernau, the mid
Atlantic Starboard Rep. for the opportunity to test the latest lite air racing
design from Starboards. This board was designed by both Jim Drake
(the designer of the original Windsurfer), and Svein Rasmussen , the
head man at Starboard.
I previously had the opportunity to sail one of the Formula 155 prototypes last
July in Thailand courtesy of Starboard and Diesha Homanee, the local hero at
Jomtien Beach. We did not have the best of conditions for our test day,
(6-8 knots max) but I was very much impressed with the performance of
the prototype in such light conditions.
So I was really interested to see if the production Formula 155 would perform
The wind didn't really cooperate around here, but late in the day it finally
came up to about 8-10 mph so I decided I would put a sail that I know
performs extremely well in "marginal" conditions on the Formula 155 and
see what happens.
I rigged the Y2K 9.5 Sailworks Retro prototype as full as possible and just
stuck it on the board and went out to see what it would do.
Here's the Wind Hotline readout for about 5 min. before I got on the water.
The WHL sensor is about 1 mile from my sailing site in a southerly direction, so
I think their reading pretty accurately reflects the windspeeds I was actually
Lo Av Hi Curr 1Ago 2Ago 3Ago
Pt. Lookout 6 9 10 SE 9 5 5 3
I set off on the Formula, and almost immediately it seemed to want to get
planing. I was standing with one foot in front of the front footstrap and one
between the front and rear straps. As long as I stayed in this position on the
board it acted like it wanted to plane of but it didn't. So I put my front foot
in the footstrap and moved my weight a little more toward the rear of the board.
Whoa, the board just seemed to "slide out from under my front foot and up onto a
plane, effortlessly. So I got both feet in the straps and planed out for about
1.8 miles, jibed, and came back in, and jibed on the inside. I was planing about
3/4 of the way around the jibes in about 8-10 mph wind speed. Great stuff.
I planed back and forth for about 45 min. sometimes going upwind, sometimes way
off the wind. the Formula points really high in this windspeed, but since the
only fin available was a 54 cm Curtis Racing ( from a W-75 AVS board) I knew I
was not pointing nearly as high as the Formula will go with the normal 58 cm
fin. I had nothing to judge it against, but it seemed to be going much higher
than I've ever been able to get a board to go in only 10 mph windspeed.
After the 45 min. my hands were getting cold, so I decided to take a break.
warm up my hands, and get out the Garmin GPS unit I use for testing so I
could see how fast I was really going.
Before I went back out , I put on some DaKine Cold Water mitts to keep the
hands warm, and dowhauled the big Retro nearly to the max. I had been getting
a little backhanded earlier as this board points high enough to really generate
some stronger apparent wind.
The WHL Readings just before I went back out were:
Lo Av Hi Curr 1Ago 2Ago 3Ago
Pt. Lookout 6 9 10 SE 9 9 5 5
So, I sailed for another 45 min, with warm hands this time. and the wind seemed
like it had filled in a little.
The Formula 155 and the big Retro were working really well together, and I was
able to sail the same 1-2 mile reach out into the Chesapeake Bay about 10 or 12
Somewhere in there the GPS managed to shut itself off, so I didn't get the whole
sesh recorded, but when I looked at the max speed, I was astonished.......
22.7 miles per hour in about 9-10 mph windspeed.
That's more than 2 X the windspeed, not something I'm accustomed to seeing in
winds this lite. Wow.
When I got back to the house, I started measuring things for this report.
The 9.5 Retro was rigged as follows:
Mast length: 536 cm
Boom length: 253 cm
Foot of sail to base pulley centerline: 7 cm.
The mast was a Sailworks XR-490 with a Sailworks fixed base extension trimmed
down to 46 cm. Base cup was an Arrows AirBase stubby.
I measured the draft in the sail (without the boom, sail resting on the battens)
and the mast was 6" (15 cm) off the ground and the clew was a whopping 54 cm
(21.25 ") off the ground. And some people have the audacity to tell me camless
sails have no draft.
Starboard Formula 155 Production model.
Span (length): 54.25 cm
Root: 11.5 cm
Mid: 9.5 cm
Tip: 7 cm
Model/ Mfg. Curtis Fin Co 54 Racing.
The board specs are:
Length: 280 cm.
Width: 85 cm (33 3/8") Wow, that's wider than the GO!
Stern Width: 52 cm ( It's a diamond tail ).
Fin Placement: LEis 20 cm forward of the center juncture of the tail.
Center of Rear Footstraps from tail juncture: 25 cm (I had the FS all the way
Center of Front FS from the tail: 73 cm ( I had the front FS as far back and
outboard as possible.
Note: The Formula 155 comes with both inboard and outboard footstrap plugs,
so those wanting to use a smaller fin will have a set of FS inserts already
installed for just that reason.
I was running the mast foot at 136 cm from the tail.
The range of the mast foot slot is 130 cm -150 cm.
The board is very easy to ride, jumping onto a plane the instant you step back
to get the rocker line up out of the water. As I said, the act of putting your
front foot in the strap seems to "slide" the board up onto a plane.
I did not pump at all today, and planed the whole time. I went deep and the
board slows slightly due to the diminished apparent wind, but keeps right on
planing. Without the big fin, I really couldn't put the Formula to the test for
upwind capability, but it seemred very good with the 54cm, which I found would
"let" loose every time I ran into a lull. This didn't stop the board from
planing, and as soon as I let up the sideways pressure on the fin it would hook
right back up. I was really pushing that little fin, and I have the muscle aches
to prove it. This is one of the things sailors new to the wide boards/big fins
need to get accustomed to, you will need to develop some stronger muscles in
the feet, ankles and calves. These muscles will burn a little the first time or
two you sail something as wide as the Formula, but the muscles develop quickly.
I've noticed the same thing when sailing the Starboard W-75, with this same
If todays short session, with no real tuning, in very lite winds is any
indication, I suspect the threshold at which longboards always seem to win,
just got lowered a few knots.
Can't wait until I get a Formula 155 of my own and can begin training for the
sailquik (Roger Jackson) US 7011
Cert. WS Instructor (Lvl 1)
Phones: So. MD (301)872-9459; Avon, NC (252) 995-3204