This time I went back to my mast tracked SUP board and after the session I was able to write a little article about the different box positions. Check the photo below to understand those measurements I'm talking about and read the article below if you're interested in the topic. The (depressing) morning call will begin just below it with the buoy readings.
The two boards I used in this comparative test are:
A) Starboard Hyper Sonic 135 with two tuttle boxes, one all the way at the back (4inches) and one 16 inches from the tail (photo above)
B) Starboard 7.4 P.O.D. SUP board with a tuttle box at 20 inches from the tail
I tried my Kai GoFoil (which is a SUP foil designed to foil at slow speed) in all those positions and my impression is that the further back the box is set, the more the following list of things happen:
- it takes more speed (which in case of windfoiling equates to wind) to foil
- once foiling, it needs more speed to keep foiling
- the foiling is stable and you're in a slalom-like stance, leaning back on your sail and keeping a decent amount of power in it.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the further forward the box is, the more the following list of things happen:
- it comes out at lower speeds
- it stays up at lower speeds
- it becomes much more maneuverable and you're standing more upright with the sail sheeted out (only using like 10-30% of the power) most of the time.
Photo by Harry Wievel.
This said, here's a brief personal feedback on those three positions in reverse order of enjoyment:
1) all the way at the back: my least favorite. Not particularly engaging since all the subtle body adjustments needed to keep it foiling aren't really necessary. As long as there's enough wind and you sheet in enough, the foil keeps foiling in a pretty stable manner. The feeling is the most similar to windsurfing of the three positions and I fear that it could become borderline boring pretty quickly. At least compared to the feeling of the other box positions.
2) 20 inches from the tail. Despite the fact that my Starboard 7.4 P.O.D. SUP is heavier than the Hyper Sonic, the board comes out of the water at a slower speed. I had some really slow glides with it and that can be quite a fun thing to do despite the lack of the thrill induced by flying over the water at high speed. It is the most unstable position though, and as soon as you start pushing the speed at which you're going (for example using a gust of wind), the foil wants to go in all directions (upwind, downwind, up or down) too nervously. I'm sure a more experienced foiler could still be in control, but I'm reporting my feedback as an apprentice.
The photo below by Paula Stocks Mantia shows this setup n.2.
3) 16 inches from the tail. My favorite position, for sure. It seems like the right compromise between how easy (or slow) it starts foiling, how easily it stays foiling and how sensitive the whole thing is to the weight adjustments of the foiler. Your body stands much more upright than the usual windsurfing stance and the feeling you get has more to do with the one of balancing on a tight rope than windsurfing.
The photo below by Harry Wiewel shows this setup n.3.
I also tried a couple of other foilers' kits with the box in the back (a Gong SUP foil and a LP windsurfing foil) and both gave me the feeling described at point 1 (the LP foil obviously performing better than both the Gong SUP foil and mine for windsurfing). And I also tried a Formula board with my foil and the box at the back and it was once again too "slalomy".
All in all, I feel like I'm particularly lucky to be borrowing that board with the extra box. I might be doing something that the other foilers don't even know about, since everybody tends to use the pre-existing box at the back.
One more comment about the use of the harness. At first I wasn't using it, because I was too scared to hook in. I believe that is going to be common to all windfoil beginners. Now I'm confident enough to hook in while foiling, but I still prefer not to do that, because I noticed that I foil a lot better without it. It's easy to visualize that hooking in a harness keeps your body (or at least your belly!) locked in a fixed position and distance from the boom and the rest of the rig. Without the harness instead, your body is much free-er to do all those subtle hip-based weight shifts necessary to keep the foil leveled. We don't ride waves on a wave board while being hooked in the harness for the same reason. The difference is that a wave usually lasts a few seconds (unless you're in Pacasmayo, where I often had to hook in mid wave to rest my arms), while a foil glide can last minutes.
That's the end of the article and, timely enough, a video of a SUP surfer claiming a longer than a km wave at Pacasmayo just came up in my feed! On my best day there (which coincides with my best wave sailing session ever), the waves were similar size and maybe even cleaner. See that long pier at the end? I ended my ride halfway (like the surfer), but thanks to the sail I could have kept going all the way to the base of the pier for a ride that would have been 2.5km long. But then I would have needed to catch a taxi to go back (wind too light in there to sail back) and I just wanted to catch more waves instead.
I counted 23 top turns on one of them and sailing back with the super light sideoff wind took me at least 30 minutes, so I only caught like 4 waves that day, but I'm never going to forget it. It was unreal.
5am significant buoy readings
2ft @ 13s from 121° (ESE)
2.2ft @ 13s from 107° (ESE)
2.3ft @ 13s from 113° (ESE)
Whatever the real direction of this ESE energy is, we saw that's too east for us (blocked by the Big Island) and the result is flat to knee high on the south side. At least that's what it looks like in the Lahaina webcam and for the first time in more than 30 days, I'm not going to drive over there! Below is a over knee high bomb I just saw, but the low tide at 7am might kill the size a bit. Check it yourself!
4.1ft @ 8s from 82° (E)
Not so much better on the north shore, as what's indicated by Pauwela is all we got. I might go check Hookipa at one point, but my guess is flat to waist with that direction. And blown out with 13(8-17)mph from 75 at 6am.
North Pacific offers a couple of miniscule fetches left and right, but the only relevant one for us will be the windswell fetch.
South Pacific offers a small and not too impressive fetch east of New Zealand, but at least it's in a good position for us. We saw yesterday how those SE swells get blocked by the Big Island instead.
It might not seem so, but I'm gonna call another stunning day, because, rain or shine, they always are here in Maui.