Frustrated beginner: advice wanted

Frustrated beginner: advice wanted

Post by George Skillman x29 » Fri, 22 May 1992 11:33:07


I've been windsurfing (actually, you hot-shots might call it windwading)
for about a year now and was wondering if some of my problems might
be due to low-end equipment.

My biggest source of confusion/consternation is that often the wind
will be blowing OK (at Shoreline Park in Mountain View, CA) and folks
will be whizzing past me but I'm just bobbing along in the water at
a ridiculously slow pace, nowhere near planing.  I generally use my
1986 Mistral Tarifa (10' 10" transition board, 25 lbs) with an old '86 Mistral
6.0 3 cambered sail, a 5.0 Neil Pryde Dynamic sail (no cambers) or my new 6.4
Gastra Power Speed sail (2 cambers).  I seem to have the same problem with
all three.  (I weigh 160 lbs.)  I try to use my harness lines as much as
I can.

I've noticed that you can spend about as much as you want for any kind of
sail.  Some of those popular WindWing jobs seem to go for $600.  Would
spending that kind of money help?  Maybe I need a new board.  I bought
a very beat up '86 9' 4" Seatrend that weighs 30 lbs which I'm just now
starting to sail with.  Perhaps I should rent a complete deluxe rig
and see if it makes a difference.

Another thing I'm confused about is masts.  Everyone seems to want the
carbon jobs.  Is it because they flex more than aluminum masts?  They
aren't much lighter and are a whole lot more expensive and fragile.
I bought a used-but-never-used carbon mast from Vela but it's only
15' 1" and therefore only long enough for my 5.0 (and just barely) with
my mast extension fully extended.

When I junk my Seatrend, what should I get for a shortboard?  I've
decided against fiberglass jobs because everyone says they don't hold
up (especially with a klutz like me).  Everyone seems to like
Mistral's Screamer but I've heard people say they hate the
Shredder.  I've heard a lot of good things about the Bic Astro Rock
except one fellow who says they're not so hot if you're
a really good windsurfer.  Since I'm lousy (I was the remedial student
in my beginner class) perhaps this is a good choice for me.

Thanks for "listening"; any replies would be appreciated.

George Skillman
NEC America

--
=============================================================
George Skillman (408) 433-2921

NEC America

 
 
 

Frustrated beginner: advice wanted

Post by Chad Pri » Fri, 22 May 1992 12:18:38


Quote:
>I've been windsurfing (actually, you hot-shots might call it windwading)
>for about a year now and was wondering if some of my problems might
>be due to low-end equipment.

A hot-shot I'm not, but like the rest I have opinions...

Quote:
>My biggest source of confusion/consternation is that often the wind
>will be blowing OK (at Shoreline Park in Mountain View, CA) and folks
>will be whizzing past me but I'm just bobbing along in the water at
>a ridiculously slow pace, nowhere near planing.  I generally use my
>1986 Mistral Tarifa (10' 10" transition board, 25 lbs) with an old '86 Mistral
>6.0 3 cambered sail, a 5.0 Neil Pryde Dynamic sail (no cambers) or my new 6.4
>Gastra Power Speed sail (2 cambers).  I seem to have the same problem with
>all three.  (I weigh 160 lbs.)  I try to use my harness lines as much as
>I can.

When people are whizzing by, are you fully powered up? ie using the harness
lines and in the footstraps (the board does have them doesn't it?), or are you
a little afraid of being launched and sheeting out rather than in as the gusts
hit? A couple of friends I sail with are consitently slow due to selection of
too small a sail for the conditions. With a camber inducer or 2 in the sail,
overpowering and getting slammed should not be as much of a problem as with an
RAF sail.

I try to sail with the largest sail I can deal with without 1 of 2 things
happening: (a) I'm so overpowered that the mast keeps trying to hit me as my
back hand loses the sail from too much power or (b) people with smaller sails
are passing me consistently when sailing the same board.

Quote:
> Perhaps I should rent a complete deluxe rig
>and see if it makes a difference.

Good equipment is definitely worthwhile, but it can only partially make up for
lack of time on the water. I buy the best I can afford, and find I am happier
than sailors I know of roughly the same ability with cheap equipment - plastic
boards and RAF sails (yes, not all RAF sails are cheap, but I'm really sold on
sails with camber inducers for the lake sailing I do).

By the same token, I won't go out and buy the Mistral Equipe XR - I can't see
expending that much money when I can get a nearly equivalent board for a lot
less. I'm not a pro or a serious racer.

Quote:
>Another thing I'm confused about is masts.  Everyone seems to want the
>carbon jobs.  Is it because they flex more than aluminum masts?  They
>aren't much lighter and are a whole lot more expensive and fragile.

I have aluminum - its cheaper, and (I think) sturdier. I fall on it a lot.

Quote:
>When I junk my Seatrend, what should I get for a shortboard?  I've
>decided against fiberglass jobs because everyone says they don't hold
>up (especially with a klutz like me).  Everyone seems to like
>Mistral's Screamer but I've heard people say they hate the
>Shredder.  I've heard a lot of good things about the Bic Astro Rock

I went from a Mistral Competition SST (1986 epoxy - 37+ lbs, 12'2") straight to
an Astro Rock last year and have not regretted it a bit. Compared to some of
the other slalom/giant slalom boards, it is floater and more stable and easier
to turn. It seems about as fast as most of the other boards around when powered
up, and only marginally less controlable for me when it's blowing a steady
30mph (compared to say, an Electric Rock). It turns easily.

my $0.02

chad


 
 
 

Frustrated beginner: advice wanted

Post by Juri Munk » Fri, 22 May 1992 17:19:54


Quote:
>Good equipment is definitely worthwhile, but it can only partially make up for
>lack of time on the water. I buy the best I can afford, and find I am happier
>than sailors I know of roughly the same ability with cheap equipment - plastic
>boards and RAF sails (yes, not all RAF sails are cheap, but I'm really sold on
>sails with camber inducers for the lake sailing I do).

Excuse me, but I happen to have what you call a "plastic board" and I'm
quite pleased with it. All recent tests indicate that poly boards are
good in medium to high wind conditions.

I'm much happier when I don't have to worry about breaking my board. I
know people who buy boards that cost almost four times as much as my board
cost me (new) and they certainly don't go four times faster than I do. Some
of them are slower and even the fastest are probably only 10% faster and
that might be because of other factors than the board.

It definitely pays to get good sails. Try to get all your sails from the
same maker and use common sense to choose the models. Cambered sails really
are easier to use in the long run. The high end is not that different, but
you have a lot more low end power.

As you said, time on the water is more important than the equipment you have.

The original poster didn't mention what fin he is using. If he is using the
standard fin that came with Mistrals in 1986, I suggest using it as a boomerang
and switching to a Fin Works H3. The H3 is a classic design that seems to work
well for almost all boards. Don't blame me if the fin box breaks though...some
fin boxes were not made for pointer fins.

To sail relatively fast, one has to:

        - Have a reasonably good board. Most boards are good enough.

        - Have a good fin. (Get a pointer first, a good blade later)

        - Rig correctly. Here's where you should ask for advice from those
          who are clearly faster than you are. All beginners rig so that
          the sail may look ok, but there's always something wrong with it.

        - **** Know your board ****

          Every board is different and it takes time to learn to make
          it go fast. If you think that a board should start planing
          all by itself with no help from you, you're wrong. It takes
          effort to make a board plane. Once you have it there, you are
          responsible for keeping it.

Skill is the key to going fast up to a point. If you then want to go even
faster, you should pay more attention to the equipment.

Quote:
>By the same token, I won't go out and buy the Mistral Equipe XR - I can't see
>expending that much money when I can get a nearly equivalent board for a lot
>less. I'm not a pro or a serious racer.

I agree.

   ____________________________________________________________________________
  / Juri Munkki     /  Helsinki University of Technology   /  Wind  / Project /

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 
 
 

Frustrated beginner: advice wanted

Post by Trevor Ha » Sat, 23 May 1992 00:13:08

One other possibility: what course are you sailing?  Shoreline can some-
times be a little confusing as the wind occasionally shifts during the
course of the afternoon.  Pick one of the hotshots and see what direction
he/she is sailing in.  Then follow them.

I used to do this a lot.  I'm sluffing along, someone blows by me.  I
notice that they're sailing about 15 degrees farther off the wind. Point
the nose down to follow and...  WHOA DOGGIES!!

--
 +-----+ Trevor Hall                     "Someone has put live pirahna
 |    #| Database Engineer                in our swimming pool.  If we
 |     | Sequent Computer Systems, Inc.   don't swim there anymore, the

 
 
 

Frustrated beginner: advice wanted

Post by Michael Flow » Sat, 23 May 1992 09:13:37


Quote:
> I've been windsurfing (actually, you hot-shots might call it windwading)
> for about a year now and was wondering if some of my problems might
> be due to low-end equipment.

> My biggest source of confusion/consternation is that often the wind
> will be blowing OK (at Shoreline Park in Mountain View, CA) and folks
> will be whizzing past me but I'm just bobbing along in the water at
> a ridiculously slow pace, nowhere near planing.  I generally use my
> 1986 Mistral Tarifa (10' 10" transition board, 25 lbs) with an old '86 Mistral
> 6.0 3 cambered sail, a 5.0 Neil Pryde Dynamic sail (no cambers) or my new 6.4
> Gastra Power Speed sail (2 cambers).  I seem to have the same problem with
> all three.  (I weigh 160 lbs.)  I try to use my harness lines as much as
> I can.

This will doubtless be soley due to technique. You really can sail almost
any old board/sail/mast/boom quite fast with good technique, and
sail the top of the line equipment slowly with bad technique.
there is a video out called "Beyond the Barrier" (from memory) that really
explains quite a lot about technique for speed, gybes, ...
Also, some of the mags go into this aspect quite a lot. I would try
studying the stance and sail position, ... to see what you can achieve.
Perhaps ask someone who seem to sail well, to look at your style.

As for board,  I only sail small boards and don't know a lot about production
boards, but I would be surprised if you would get a Tarifa going as fast
as the custom slalom boys. The tarifa has its place, but probably not on
a flat out reach against the lighter customs.
What do others think?

Quote:

> I've noticed that you can spend about as much as you want for any kind of
> sail.  Some of those popular WindWing jobs seem to go for $600.  Would
> spending that kind of money help?  Maybe I need a new board.  I bought
> a very beat up '86 9' 4" Seatrend that weighs 30 lbs which I'm just now
> starting to sail with.  Perhaps I should rent a complete deluxe rig
> and see if it makes a difference.

As I say, you can sail slowly with the best gear, but certainly your gear
may be letting you down a bit, especially if it is obviously blown out.
The newer sails mainly just have better controllablity (mainly). The
designs provide for control for gusts (heads rotate) and so on.
The sails you describe should really be adequate for quite
reasonable speed.
As for boards, I believe that an 8'9" - 9' slalom would probably be
a good choice at your stage, but then again I have never seen you sail.
Personally I sail a 7'10" wave board, and I certainly wouldn't suggest that.
Fibreglass boards aren't really that fragile (if they are made well).
Ask you local W/S shop for advice here, and scour the beaches to ascertain
what people use. In Melbourne (Australia) we have several board manufacturers,
and personally I believe taht a local manufacturer (Trigger Brothers) really
makes about the perfect type of boards. I have had my last board for over
3 years through 60knt winds, 7metre surf and the works. I sail quite a lot.
Quote:

> Another thing I'm confused about is masts.  Everyone seems to want the
> carbon jobs.  Is it because they flex more than aluminum masts?  They
> aren't much lighter and are a whole lot more expensive and fragile.
> I bought a used-but-never-used carbon mast from Vela but it's only
> 15' 1" and therefore only long enough for my 5.0 (and just barely) with
> my mast extension fully extended.

Masts should be matched to sails (or vice versa). The newer sails require
stiffness characteristics that you won't get with old, epoxy masts (generally).
It is easy to see on the beach if the mast is inadequate. The rigged
sail should have enough fullness and a nice set, and should have awfull
lines and ridges when tensioned. Similarly during gusts, the sail shouldn't
get horrible horizontal lines from the clew area to the mast. If it does,
the mast is probably too flexible.
Setting sails really takes quite some skill (initially, until you have
got it down pat).

I would really recommend "Beyond the barrier" which explains all this.
Also, W/Surfers love talking/looking and explaining. Try asking
some of the good sailors in your area.

Quote:

> When I junk my Seatrend, what should I get for a shortboard?  I've
> decided against fiberglass jobs because everyone says they don't hold
> up (especially with a klutz like me).  Everyone seems to like
> Mistral's Screamer but I've heard people say they hate the
> Shredder.  I've heard a lot of good things about the Bic Astro Rock
> except one fellow who says they're not so hot if you're
> a really good windsurfer.  Since I'm lousy (I was the remedial student
> in my beginner class) perhaps this is a good choice for me.

I believe  that the Astro rock will be about as fragile as a good
fibreglass job, and certainly more expensive. However I believe that they are
quite a good board. Several of my friends have them. The problem with this
type of board is that they aren't as repairable as the glass boards. You
can do an awful amount of damage to a fibreglass custom and get it almost
perfectly repaired.
Quote:

> Thanks for "listening"; any replies would be appreciated.

> George Skillman
> NEC America

> --
> =============================================================
> George Skillman (408) 433-2921

> NEC America

Michael Flower

Telecom Research Laboratories           Voice:     +61 3 541 6179
Melbourne, AUSTRALIA                    Fax:       +61 3 543 8863
 
 
 

Frustrated beginner: advice wanted

Post by Chad Pri » Sat, 23 May 1992 22:05:21

Quote:


>I believe  that the Astro rock will be about as fragile as a good
>fibreglass job, and certainly more expensive. However I believe that they are
>quite a good board. Several of my friends have them. The problem with this
>type of board is that they aren't as repairable as the glass boards. You
>can do an awful amount of damage to a fibreglass custom and get it almost
>perfectly repaired.

On the durability of the Astro Rock I beg to differ - I have gotten slammed
a few times, dropping(?!) the boom on the board hard enought that my epoxy-
fiberglass Mistral would have a very large hole in it, and been unable to see
where on the Astro Rock I hit it. The upper surface of the Astro is
extraoridarily sturdy.

chad

--
chad


 
 
 

Frustrated beginner: advice wanted

Post by Kirk Lindstr » Tue, 26 May 1992 22:03:35

Since I'm lousy (I was the remedial student in my beginner class) perhaps
this is a good choice for me.

Thanks for "listening"; any replies would be appreciated.

George Skillman

----------
I too was the remedial student in my Shoreline class.  Now I consider myself
an advanced shortboarder so all you need is time on the water.

Rather than spend money on fast gear,  myself and several others found that
the best money spend early on is on lessons.  Since you are considering new
gear, I'd suggest getting instead weekly private lessons of an hour each
$25 at Helm, maybe $40 from Roger Carl at Shoreline (excellent instructor),
or just a soda on the beach from better sailors (ask someone to critique
your rig, stance, etc. while sitting around resting or waiting for wind).
I made a quantum leap in ability by taking the Rhonda Smith class at
Shoreline.  I ROger uses alot of her techniques and is a very good
instructor so their 2 day intermediate classes should be just as good for
group lessons (good way to meet other sailors of similar ability).

-Kirk out

 
 
 

Frustrated beginner: advice wanted

Post by Ken Poult » Thu, 28 May 1992 19:27:10

Quote:
> My biggest source of confusion/consternation is that often the wind
> will be blowing OK (at Shoreline Park in Mountain View, CA) and folks
> will be whizzing past me but I'm just bobbing along in the water at
> a ridiculously slow pace, nowhere near planing.  I generally use my
> 1986 Mistral Tarifa (10' 10" transition board, 25 lbs) with an old '86 Mistral
> 6.0 3 cambered sail, a 5.0 Neil Pryde Dynamic sail (no cambers) or my new 6.4
> Gastra Power Speed sail (2 cambers).  I seem to have the same problem with
> all three.  (I weigh 160 lbs.)  I try to use my harness lines as much as
> I can.

My experience at Shoreline was that the winds are so light and gusty
that it was real hard to learn to plane (or waterstart) there.  I moved
up to Coyote for the better winds when I was at this stage (13 months
ago) and have not been back to Shoreline.

Your 6.4 sail should be enough in 15-18 knots to plane pretty easily,
but I think the reports from the Shoreline concession are pretty
optimistic.  Fancier sails will make a huge difference in controllability
when you get overpowered, but not a big difference in basic power.

Your boards are kind of heavy, but at your level that doesn't make a big
difference, either.  Something like an Astro Rock (9'4", I think) is a
real safe bet for a next board if you go to Coyote; something a bit
larger (say 9'8") might be more ideal for Shoreline.

The key to both planing and waterstarting initially is just to have
plenty of wind.  This will just drive you hard enough to plane.
As you get the feel of it, you will be able to plane on smaller
equipment in less wind, but initially you just need the raw wind power.
I made this transition on a 11'6" board, but I had to go to Coyote
to do it.  Nowadays, I could probably pump my 9'0" onto an occasional
plane at Shoreline; folks with more experience than me can make it look easy.

To get on a plane, watch the water for the gusts.  When a gust comes,
try to avoid sheeting out to maintain balance; lean out on your harness
more instead.  At the same time, step towards the tail of the board
(small steps, not enough to sink the tail).  Turning downwind will also
help you get planing, then you can resume your normal direction.  When
you step back on your board the right amount as a gust comes you will be
amazed by how your board suddenly leaps foward.  As you get going,
sheet in because your apparent wind will shift around to more
in front of you.

What you should have for Coyote: a seam-sealed wetsuit, a helmet, and
plenty of humility.  No one will laugh at you; but beginning
shortboarders inevitably sometimes land in the swimming area (downwind)
and many of us even end up at the marina (further downwind)
occasionally.  A sealed wetsuit is a bit of overkill for midsummer, but
good insurance against hypothermia in case of problems.  A helmet is
just good sense any time you have enough wind to plane.  I also highly
recommend carrying extra rope (for repairs or towing) and flares.

Ken Poulton

 
 
 

Frustrated beginner: advice wanted

Post by Gerard Hor » Fri, 29 May 1992 01:54:50

Quote:

>Rather than spend money on fast gear,  myself and several others found that
>the best money spend early on is on lessons.  Since you are considering new

>-Kirk out

I will second the lessons advice. Last year I went to the ABK Winds
School in the Delta. At that time I had been sailing a short board for about
a year and a half. I could water start with ease and even had made some
duck jibes. Even so I still learned a lot, the biggest bonus for me was
learming how to sail upwind. We were shown on dry land how to lean
forward and hang from the harness!!!!!!!

Good lessons do help.

gerard