One board for all conditions?
Boards are like women: the more the better.
Let me introduce you my wave boards harem. From the left:
1) 100l freestyle (or freeride... not sure!) old RRD beat up board with reshaped tail AKA The Experiment
2) 90l Goya custom wave series
3) 81l Goya custom wave series
4) 75l custom SOS
5) 68l custom Quatro
1) The Experiment (I'm thinking about renaming it The Miracle) is the reason because I pretty much don't wave sail on a longboard anymore. What I liked about the longboard, in fact, is that it allowed me to sail in super light wind and had a surfboard rocker.
But then I figured that I didn't really need all that volume. I'm 154 (70kg) and 100l are enough to float me in any wind!
The problem is that there aren't many 100l wave boards on the market and even if you guys will find one, it will not have a surfboard rocker. Even if they're labeled "wave", they're still designed for planing. Most of the times, they are designed as wave boards for big guys.
That's not what I wanted.
I wanted a board that would take me out there with 5-10 knots of wind, clearly without any ambition of planing, get me on the wave and ride it well, with a feeling as similar as possible to the one of a surfboard.
One lazy sunday morning, three rare things happened at the same time:
1) my grinder had been resting for too long
2) all neighbors were out
3) I had nothing better to do.
So I did it.
I added more than one inch of rocker and a huge V to the tail. In the process, I incidentally also shortened the board of a couple of inches and since I was able to keep the tuttle box in place (had to sand down the base of the fin too), the fin is now placed veeery close to the tail. Not too bad, actually. I would just love to install a couple of side fins... we'll see when the three above conditions will happen again!
Pros compared to the longboard.
- it turns a lot more
- it's lighter to carry
Cons compared to the longboard.
- it doesn't glide
- can't do SUP surfing if the wind dies (I even tried... forget it!)
- can't use it as a board to teach your friends
The old time blog readers know that, when the wind is so light that it won't allow down the line riding, I like to please myself with jumping on the backside of the sail while going upwind on a wave.
With the longboard, I couldn't really turn it much while doing that. With T.E. instead, I'm now starting to go up and down the face of the wave and in the last couple of sessions, I even INVENTED the reverse lay down bottom turn.
Da heck is it? Hang on, here it comes...
You've seen the lay down bottom turns of the pros, right? Here's KP again.
Now, without having the presumption to compare myself to the greats, I'm trying to do a reverse version of that. Imagine the same wave, but with the sailor now going upwind towards the right of the photo and on the back (downwind) side of the sail. His right foot is his front foot. Just like in the regular downwind version, I discovered that laying down the sail helps the board do a tighter bottom turn. It clearly all happens at way slower speed (since the wind is very light), but the concept is the same.
I haven't figured out yet what to do with the top turn... someone suggested to continue turning into a 360... I think it's a great idea!
Forgot to say the most important thing: no footstraps. They are absolutely unnecessary at these speeds and they would be in the way 99% of the times. When slogging, in fact, the back foot rests exactly where the front streps are. And when riding a wave at slow speed it's absolutely key to be able to freely move the back foot.
2) I fell in love with the 90 right away at my very first session. It was March 08 and I still have a little youtube video of it.
I use it when the wind is 10-14 knots with a 5.0 superfreak ultralight. Again, no ambitions of planing, but the wind is strong enough to allow strapped down the line wave riding.
Most big wave boards I tried are too wide. Again, they're designed for heavy guys and maybe they work for them. When using those superwide boards, I'm unable to really dig the rail in the water. The Goya, instead, is not that wide (damn, they just updated the website with the 09 models, and I'm too lazy to get the measurement tape, so I can't even tell you how wide it is) and that makes two things happen:
a) the board is still fast
b) I can dig the rail (specially in the tail which is relatively thin) and turn it really sweet!
Where's all that volume? In the thickness in the center and front. The little con of it (in boards, just like in everything else in life, there's always good and bad aspects) is that the domed shape gives the board a little tendency to roll over its axis. At my weight and skill level though, tacking is still absolutely comfortable.
I bought it for Kanaha, but lately I used it at Hookipa too in a day with overhead glassy waves. I couldn't believe how well it worked!
If the wind outside is stronger, the board planes very quickly and (thanks again to the limited width, I think) it sails really nice. If the wind gets stronger also between the waves, then it becomes too big for me to control in the chop and I go back to my lovely car and swap it for...
3) ... the 81l. You guys probably remember that I recently fixed a snapped 81 that was given to me by a friend. I liked it so much that I had to own a non fixed version. In fact, the fix added 1 kg to the weight and even though that made it bounce less on the chops in high wind (see? there's something positive even in weight), it wasn't the best for the aerials and for early planing.
The 81 for me is still a light wind board. Let's say around 16 knots steady or strong on the outside but pretty light between the waves.
Very similar shape and behavior of the 90, I fall a bit more often in the tacks. But that's mostly because I suck...
Is 9 liters enough difference to justify two boards?
4) Sean Ordonez shaped this board for Kevin Pritchard.
It's the board I use more often at Hookipa with the 4.7, as you can tell by the number of dings on the bottom that the rocks put in it...
Completely different from the Goyas, with a more flat deck and not so narrow. At this volume, in fact, the width becomes important for stability in the tacks.
This board likes big, smooth waves. It doesn't like the chop too much but... which board does?
Here's a recent photo from the water (thanks Ben!).
5) Keith Taboul shaped this one for himself with a slightly flatter rocker than usual and even though it was a bit faster he didn't like the mild turnability loss.
It's all relative, I guess.
When I tried it, in fact, I didn't find it particularly fast but, without a doubt, it was (and still is) the turniest board I have ever tried!
I'm still so excited every time I get to use it, but it doesn't happen quite often. The wind at Hookipa is always light on the inside and to go over the breaking waves, I need a bit more volume. The bigger the waves the more volume you need. I mean, I need.
That's why I use it only with small waves or in those rare days in which the wind is strong also on the inside.
Somebody told me: brah, you need a van with all these boards!
Absolutely not, was my answer. Why should I carry them all at the same time? Most of the times I know what kind of range of wind I will find and so I only take a couple with me (which fit beautifully inside my Escort) and I happily drive at 32mpg. If I feel like being particularly conservative, then I put a third one on the roof racks.
Plus, if I'm at Hookipa and I need a board that I didn't take with me, my place is a 45 seconds drive away... can't beat that!
And now that I got all sizes covered... what volume am I going choose for my first twin fin?!? Come on, is it really possible to be a windsurfer these days and not to have one?