I'v recently returned from a PBA event held in Kuantan,Malaysia & thought
that some of the observations on equipment trends may be of interest.
Several "names" were there (eg Eric Thieme,Sven Rasmussen) but the top guys
weren't (too early in the season).
Some big changes here, the biggest being that wide points are moving back
very dramatically. On the course slalom boards, the most radical ones are
shaped like elongated eggs,with thinned out noses. The volume is at the back,
with big 1 foot off measurements (14"). Straps are way out on the rails on
these boards. The jury is still out on these shapes, one of the pros
commented that these shapes work best in swells rather than chop. They
are supposed to be easier to gybe because the rear plan shape of the board
is more curvy.
The top guys use boards that are as small as possible. None of them were
using ultra light ones,the lightest I felt was around 5 kgs. Eric Thieme
said that for the indoor events he sailed a board that was approx 3+ kilos!
No ultra radical blades! The most popular is the Tuttle/Curtiss HAS series,
where the base is fairly broad, narrowing down quite quickly into a high
aspect fin. All were G10. Several said they had tried moulded carbon fins
but these tended to shear at the base in strong conditions. Another highly
rated series of fins were the Berndstatter custom fins. An amazing sight was
seeing Eric Thieme (father of course/slalom) shooting upwind in 9 knots on
a 9' board,6.8sail with a 12.5" fin!
Several protos around, the new ART will have an even floppier leech. The
new North race sails have an unusual cut with a big loose leech area. Rumour
is that Neil Pryde will collapse the current Racing and Slalom series of
sails into one series. Looks like loose leeches are here to stay. Tip from
pros: some people have gone to extremes and are over downhauling,another
tip is to ignore the recommended sail settings and experiment.
Booms fairly low, harness lines short and further back (to keep the rig more
upright and sheeted in). An interesting observation made while chasing the
best guys: when going upwind, they leave a deep wake. They seem to pressure
down the rear of the board more than your average joe.
That all folks!