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TOPIC: 15 years after... First impressions

15 years after... First impressions 1 year 7 months ago #1

  • Gregory
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First impression after a couple of session in 13-15 kn wind. To give this some context, it has been 15 years since I set foot on a board. I used to sail on a 290x56 custom and now I try to make a come back on new 124 AtomIQ. Not so easy.

It is a lot harder to come back to the sport than I thought it would be and here are a few things I noticed:
- I am severely out of shape! I lack upper body strength, I'm out of breath after 45 minutes on the water (or in the water!), and don't feel "in-control" of my gear nor myself! I go to the gym several times a week, I'm still relatively fit and thought that this wouldn't be a factor. Well, it is and here is why in the next few points.
- I didn't loose the sense of balance on the board but I lost most of the technique I had and found the new board is behaving very differently than my old kit did. This is almost like starting from scratch,
- The straps are very far back and the back strap is hard to reach. If I don't put that feet in it I feel I can get catapulted anytime (which I did, ha!). Also putting the back feet in the strap is putting more weight towards the back of the board which tends to sink the back-end, slow the board down and move the board upwind - which also kill the speed...
- The board Is very reactive once planning (yes, I managed to get it going for a couple hundred yards!). But this thing is wild and very sensitive to the slightest foot pressure and the wind catching underneath the board makes it very unstable. This demands constant vigilance in choppy waters as the board has a tendency to move a lot around. It is also quit hard to get it to plane as it constantly tries to move upwind - probably because I have little confidence in me controlling it while lletting it take speed downwind!
- The sails (Gaastra Matrix - rigged properly I think, loose on top and not too deep down at the bottom), are also much more rigid than what I was used to. The slightest gust is used and provides immediate power which demands a more active sailing it seems: The forward pull on the rig is immediate, quite surprising and impressive, and demands constant adjustments of the body weight and the back hand to keep the thing under some kind of control!

So, I have a lot to learn and getting used to. It is a lot tougher than I thought. On the bright side, I didn't loose my water start technique! Overall, it's fun to be on the water again but my skill level is not living to my expectations and hasn't survived 15 years of this sport's evolution.

Any pointers or advice are welcome!

15 years after... First impressions 1 year 7 months ago #2

You have just summarized my last five years of getting back on a board. And I always feel out of shape - and I run every morning. I'm still trying to figure out how to jibe.
But
when hooked in and in the straps I'm in heaven. I spend more time being launched then being hooked in. I want to get good before I get old and I'm running out of time in regards to getting old.

15 years after... First impressions 1 year 7 months ago #3

  • Ady
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Go Greg! Who says it will be easy? Its not and thats the main reason why we keep doing it probably. I'm glad you are past the initial exitment now and you've figured out that you have a formidable opponent and you wont beat it with row power alone no matter how fit you are. The equipment has changed significantly and if your old board is 290 cm long you are not 15 years behind, you are more like 25 years behind-late 80s , early 90s maybe. I have not been windsurfing then, but a friend of mine has a board from this era and I've tried it on a few occasions out of curiosity, so I have an idea. It is very different how you sail this 80s boards and you really are starting from scratch with the new equipment by having to do exactly the opposite of what you've been used to .
I dont want to overwhelm you with information, so I'll try to just give you a few if the most important IMO pointers and I'll recommend you to read and reread Peter Harts technique articles in Windsurf Magazine:
www.windsurf.co.uk/category/technique/peter-hart/
He has been in the sport from the beginning and has seen it all and aparently he has a lot of returning windsurfers in his coaching classes, so you'll find many references about how it has been before and how it has changed.
Part 1. Starting with your equipment- I have put the front footstraps on my Atomic all the way back and out and the back footstraps middle holes and out . I want to experiment by moving my front straps one position in one day , because I feel like they make me bend my front leg too much when cranking upwind, but I may be wrong on that.
I put the mast foot about 1.5 cm back from the middle for my biggest sail to unstick the nose a little bit and I put it in the middle and a bit forward respectively for my smaller sails for more control in stronger winds.
Fins: For wider then 70 cm boards -something like that: 9.0 sq m sail=50 cm fin; 8.5=48 cm; 8.0=46 cm; 7.5=44 etc etc
Rig: I put the extension on max setting for every single sail and downhaul to the max -untill the pulleys almost touch- for when nicely powered to overpowered and I release the downhaul just enugh to be able to stick my pinky finger between the pulleys for underpowered conditions.
Boom position is extremly important for how early the board will plane!!! Old timers seem to prefer low boom position but this is counter productive now. Place your board without the fin on a grass or sand and attach the rig to it, step on the board and lift the rig. The best boom position for overall powered sailing will be at your shoulder hight-remember to wich mark on the sail luff it corresponds and set up your outhaul at this boom position always. If you are severely overpowered lower the boom to your chest level and to your chin level if you are severely underpowered respectively.
Outhaul: 2-4 cm of positive outhaul is usually enough. Keep in mind that moving the boom up or down from its initial position effectively releases or applies outhaul!
Harness lines: You need to find the best position for every sail and adjust them accordingly when rigging. Writing down all the settings for every single sail somewhere is a good idea /my memory is pathetic and I look at my notes every time before rigging just in case/. I seem to like 28" length now-a bit longer for downwind or when using seat harness /which I dont use anymore/. Spreading them a fist lenght appart is good enough for bigger sails.
Perhaps the best check point of your rig trim and mast compatibility is the luff side end of the batten just above the boom. At max setting it is supposed to be behind the mast just touching it and at min setting it would be overlapping the mast a bit ending at the center line and not protruding past it. Leaner trimes sail is better for early planing then bagged out one-counterintuitively it seems.
image_2016-05-24.png

There is a light wind setting in this instructions aswell, but I dont like it and prefer the medium setting for light wind instead.

15 years after... First impressions 1 year 7 months ago #4

  • Ady
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image_2016-05-24.jpeg


image_2016-05-24-2.jpeg

Part 2. Tecnique
In the pictures above are examples on how to get on the plane as quickly as possible on a short board. It starts by turning the board DOWNWIND in a gust -bearing off. Getting low on a bent back leg and pushing on the toes of your front straight leg. Arms narrow spread, slightly bent in the elbows and pushing down on the boom. Dont pull with the back arm!!! You do very light foot adjustments in the next 2 or 3 seconds making sure you dont put your weight on your back leg : slide it back untill it touches the back straps, quickly put your front foot in the strap and push again with the toes. Gain some more speed if you have to and put your back foot in the strap without stomping.
A fundamental difference between an 80s kit and a todays one is the diference in the roles front limbs/back limbs are playing. In a stark contrast to the old kit now the front arm and leg have the commanding position for stearing and changing speed and the back ones have more of a supporting role. Being heavy on your back foot makes the board round upwind, pulling to much with your back arm will make you oversheat and loose power in the sail or worse -catapult you. Keep your FRONT leg and arm straight as much as possible exept when cranking on the edge upwind . Keep your front arm close to the harness lines and push or pull with it ONLY -to power up or down the sail. Push on your toes or on your heels to accelerate or slow down and to stear your board down or upwind. Your back foot mainly takes care of keeping the board flat and your back arm of keeping the sail stable, but not too much else in a straight line sailing.

15 years after... First impressions 1 year 7 months ago #5

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Dan Hubert wrote:
You have just summarized my last five years of getting back on a board. And I always feel out of shape - and I run every morning. I'm still trying to figure out how to jibe.
But
when hooked in and in the straps I'm in heaven. I spend more time being launched then being hooked in. I want to get good before I get old and I'm running out of time in regards to getting old.
Dan, the topic about carve gybing is huge and if you point me to a specific issues that you have , I may try to help you. I also would recommend you the Peter Harts articles /I've posted the link already/ and there are one or two about gybing specifically in there also.
A very common reason for constant catapulting is not enough downhaul! Intermediate windsurfers lacking technique usually try to compensate with too big sails or less downhaul, both of which are counterproductive for early planing and lead to catapults, failed gybes and fatigue-does this sound familiar? I've been there myself not too long ago :blush:

15 years after... First impressions 1 year 7 months ago #6

  • Chris
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Hang in there, and welcome back to the sport!

If I may ask, how much do you weigh and what size sail are you using in 13-15 knots of wind? Also, where are you sailing and what are the usual conditions?

Without yet knowing these specifics, here are some possibilities: 1) depending on your weight, you might benefit from a larger board. This will take some of the rig's "twitchiness" out of the equation. For 13-15 knots of wind, I could imagine average size intermediate and/or returning sailors using boards that are a minimum of 140 or 150L. At ~175 lbs, I progressed to straps and planing with ease on boards that were in the 180L range. From there, a 145L board was an easy transition, esp. for low-wind sailing.

2) if the straps feels too far back, can you move the mast track back a bit (and/or move the straps forward)? Also, are you already planing before you put your back foot in? In most cases you'll need to be before inserting the back foot.

3) If you are using the foot straps to prevent being catapulted, it's likely that you are under-utilizing the harness. One of the best pieces of advice I got was to really commit to the harness once you get going. In other words, use your body weight to stay locked in. (Feel a gust? Then sink more into the harness and/or turn upwind slightly.) Arms and feet are secondary tools for sail trim and steering. Your body weight is your primary tool. By committing to the harness, you will also stay more relaxed and get less winded.

Of course, this all takes time and practice, but with some more time on the water, you should begin to see some results.

15 years after... First impressions 1 year 7 months ago #7

  • Gregory
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Thank you all for taking the time to reply. I really appreciate all the advice and encouragements.
Overall, I think I'm impatient and thought I would get on the thing and it would be like in the old days! I actually think I'm not doing too bad after this many years. I get on the board and off I sail! Not the way I used to but I'm optimistic.

Your comments are dead-on:
I try to get in the straps too fast...
I don't rely on the harness enough: true! I was totally underutilizing the harness until I got the lines in the right position just before the last run, but then I was exhausted, so that didn't make any difference! Ha! I set my lines at about 30".
I set the straps as far forward and inward as the board allows. So I just need to get planning a bit more before reaching for them and ease a bit on the back leg pressure like you guys mentioned: I think this is the biggest adjustment I will need to get use to. Now, keeping the front leg straight reminds me of how I would keep myself on an old and massive Mistral Equipe from the 80s! That I can do!
I set the mast in the middle of the track. I'll try to pull it a bit more back to see if that provides more comfort.
Yes for the boom! I used to have it super low on my 290 with a 6.0 sail. The harness then we're not as form-fitted as they are now and I couldn't stand having it creeping upward to chest level, hence the low position! So, this is again a good point: I need to set the boom higher to feel what kind of difference that makes.
I think I got the sail rigged the way it should. I played with them in the backyard for while before rigging them on the beach and I understand the nuances. I watch a few videos and that helped. I think I got that part relatively right.

To answer Chris' question, I'm 6'2" for 83kg. The wind was 13 knots with gusts around 15-16 knots. I used a 7.5 Gaastra Matrix. If I wasn't so busy trying to understand the behavior of the new kit, there was plenty of power to get the board planning with the 7.5. But I got overwhelmed with the lines and my feet in the wrong place, gusts and chop, and the overall sensitive behavior of the board... I then decided to switch to the 6.5 to see the difference and then the wind died a tad at that point - maybe 11-12 knots - and I went back on the water and I now felt underpowered. This was on Lake Michigan, in Sheboygan's South Beach (WI) on a Southeast day in a 1' to 2' chop.

I have to say the 124 l is going to have to do it for now. No more windsurfing budget...

Got to get out and persevere! Again thx for all the well pointed advice. I spend time on YouTube watching how-to's and that helps as well. I can't believe I found myself watching "4 easy steps to forward-loop" thinking I shouldn't be far from trying this trick, while In reality, I can't even get the board planning for more than a 100 yards! I just landed from my delusional dreams of ever becoming a windsurfing "God"! Ha!

15 years after... First impressions 1 year 7 months ago #8

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This is my old 290. It is less buoyant than the AtomIQ though... But still in sailing condition! Might give this a try... Or might hang it permanently on the wall in my office! Who knows?... (the pads are not original)
image.jpeg

15 years after... First impressions 1 year 7 months ago #9

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That's a sweet old board. The longer length may get you up and planing more quickly than your 124L. I'd definitely give it a try.

13 knots of wind with 15 gusts = 15-17 mph. For me, this is 8.5m territory. You may need just a tad more sail -- or wind -- to get on a steady plane. If you haven't already seen it, check out this windsurfing calculator. I recommend adding 3-5 lbs. to account for wetsuit, harness, PFD, etc.

Happy sailing.

15 years after... First impressions 1 year 7 months ago #10

  • Ady
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Wow, you did actually much better then what you described in your first post! You have a great kit-perfect sizes sails and board for your weight, so now perseverance as you said, better trimming and educating yourself on technique and practicing what you've learned ONE thing at a time! We will never be a windsurfing gods, not even experts by sailing once a week or less for our short season and crapy wind, but at least we can try to reach some decent level , where windsurfing feels comfortable and fun all the time and from there going for some new move every once in a while to keep the challenge up.
Now to the point- it looks like a lot of your problems with planing stem from the wrong trim. It has been like pushing the accelerator of a car and breaking at the same time. The front foot straps- I have them on my Kode 86 on exactly the same position-forward and in and its fine ...on a 58 cm wide board. Not so much on my 75 cm wide Atomiq. I've tried once puting them on that position for a wave riding experiment and it felt awfully. Never again! On top of that you are talker then me 5'7"", do yourself a favor and move them max back and middle out / dont go just yet for max out/. Move the back straps aswell to the coresponding outside positions, but put them on the middle holes , not the most back once -you may spinn out too much otherwise.
Boom -shoulder level!!! As I bosted above set up the kit without fin on grass or sand and memorise to which mark on the sail the shoulder hight boom corresponds / it will be the same mark for all your ine brand sails I guess/ . Use the occasion to try the lenght of the harness lines aswell-after you put the boom on the right hight , hook up in the harness lines and get into a sailing position with straight arms you should be a bit suspended. They shouldnt hang below the harness hook or pull you too much up .
image_2016-05-26.png

image_2016-05-26.jpeg


Screenshot from this article: www.windsurf.co.uk/peter-hart-up-and-riding-in-a-flash/

Me with my boom on my highest level waiting desperately for a gust.

15 years after... First impressions 1 year 7 months ago #11

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Darn, I didn't realise that you probably have a wrong stance when not planing to begin with -coming from a long board. You may be standing tall ,parallel to the sail with your feet pointing towards it in the classic figure 7 stance of old. I was doing the same mistake in my first year on a short board btw /if you can call the Bic Core 160D a short board/. I recall weighing the tail so much that the board was going berserk slapping the nose left and right like insane.

image_2016-05-26-3.jpeg

Today that figure 7 is twisted-more like 6. With the classic 7 you will need a really big board and sail to start planing-like Chris suggests. The best non planing foot position is what the girl in the middle picture is doing or me here on my WindSUP:

image_2016-05-26-2.jpeg

As you can see-front foot is facing forward towards the nose and back foot is across the center line to keep the board flat. The girl in the pucture has wind in her sail and she can lean back with straight arms, but if the wind is too light to support you your arms will be bent keeping the rig upright . Your foot position should be the same though regardless, moving gradually back as the speed increases. Unlike crabbing back on a long board you do very few steps back on a short board dough. Your strategy in light winds is to shlog constantly upwind to gain ground and when you spot an incoming gust you have to BEAR AWAY big time! Going downwind now you need to step back some keping the feet pointing in the right directions and you have to sink LOWER over your back foot preventing a catapult and puting your weight on the front foot toes next to the mast track preventing tail sinking. Arms straight pushing down on the boom. You can be hooked in or unhooked - I usually hook in BEFORE in moderate winds or when too tired to pump, do it unhooked in light winds to keep the sail more upright and pump and also unhooked in very strong wind and chop to prevent catapulting. In the last 2 situations I hook in only AFTER my front foot is in the footstrap.

15 years after... First impressions 1 year 7 months ago #12

  • Ady
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There you go! I've found this jewel of a picture sequence by Jem Hall that very clearly displays how to start planing the right way. Hooked in in the first sequence, unhooked in the second. Turning downwind also known as bearing away before that is imperative!! Jem Hall uses the word "scissoring" the board downwind in this article which is a good description of the action your feet and legs are doing to turn the board downwind. Bearing away is easier to do unhooked!

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