7. What are your thoughts on the new wider style waveboards such as the Starboard Blackbox and the Simmer Frugal? What purpose do they serve? Are they a niche or a new direction?
Seb W – Well, usually I do not like to comment so much on the competition… let me just say, that we tried similar concepts a long time ago and they did not really work for us. Of course, there is always a niche that can be found and filled in the market, but it has never been our philosophy to fill all of those niches. We would rather offer a clean range, which caters to a wide range of conditions and users.
Keith T – I think there is always a place for different designs in the industry. I think the range of use is more limited than a more traditional design, but doesn’t mean you won’t have fun in certain conditions. I think these designs, if brought to market, need to be tested a lot in varied conditions and the bugs worked out before bringing them to market, because I do think the range of use is less than the more traditional designs. I think these are a more niche market and for this great, but for the general market I think these are a bit specific. Every year, for the past six years, my team guys always come to me to make shorter, wider, fuller boards for the summer time (smaller wave conditions) but then when the winter rolls around, it’s back to the standard designs which I think the general consumer can appreciate more. That being said, I still think these boards have a place in your quiver as long as you have other options as well. In general, my designs have been getting a bit longer not shorter.
Dany B – I obviously reckon that a board like the Black Box is a new direction for sure. Here again, we have a very special board, for those conditions where a lot of other boards struggle. You will never get the same “alive” feeling that you have with the Black Box, with a regular single fin, twin, quad or thruster. Of course, it depends on the conditions you are riding in. Because it is designed for light winds and mushy or soft waves, it will never perform as good in decent waves and strong winds, but for that we have got other boards. This kind of board is made to give you the feeling of joy, that even in the lightest conditions where you would not even consider going out, you can have a lot of fun! Looking at surfing, why should it work for them and not for us in a bigger proportion?
In the time since the board has come out, more and more people have approached me, saying that thanks to this board they can now go windsurfing again, as they had given up with all the others and passed over to kiting. I have to say that especially the bigger guys (90 kg+) were the ones that showed the most of interest. They were the ones that told me that they actually use it as their regular wave board and love to use it in their home spot (like in Holland, Belgium, Denmark and Germany); spots that are onshore, and where the waves suck you more in than ejecting you out. Those same guys also have done a lot of requests to have a light wind board for them… a bigger Black Box! Guys with over 100 kg need to have volume under their feet no matter what, and to me it is better to have it wider than thicker, that is the secret I reckon. Wider keeps the float and allows you to have thinner rails to dig into the face of a wave, even if it is small or the waves are weak. Like that, a heavy guy can also go out on a lighter day were he would probably go kiting or SUPing. That is why we have got the new 107 Black Box already in production!
Scotty M – Obviously we think they are a viable entity, but more so towards trying to maximise the most out of meagre conditions. But, it could also be that they are a new direction once again, that boards could be becoming shorter and wider once again.
Cisco G – There is something to the more compact gear, which is why – step by step – our boards have been getting shorter and more efficient with each new series. Our new 84 Quad has only 224 cm of length and 59 cm of width. The balanced outline is what gives the riders the confidence to push themselves to the next level.
Werner G – In my opinion, it is definitely a niche product. It’s very easy to make a board for a very specific small range. These concepts fit into this segment. We cannot change ground rules. Wide boards cannot carve and change rails like a narrow version. On the other hand, a narrow board cannot plane as quickly as a wide one. The goal is to find a good compromise or place a board to one radical corner. These two boards, which you mention, are in my opinion very radical niche boards.
Ola H - I think those two are quite different types of boards. The Frugal is for me definitely a new direction and it was conceived as a high performance all round design from the ground up. There are many things that come together in this. One is the ability to use bigger hulls that still feel lively when turning. Many multi fins have claimed that you can chose them bigger, but have still felt quite dull then, unless the wave has been of high quality. A big Frugal has the volume, but keeps the agility of a smaller board. At the same time it is effective enough to also be used in a small size. But aside from that, the main inspiration comes from top level surfing and surt of lines on a wave they are able to draw. To bring windsurfing in this direction, the Frugal shape reacts quicker and allows you to carry more speed through really tight turns.8. With 5 batten, 4 batten and now even 3 batten wave sails on the market, how much affect does the sail style have on how the board performs and can you describe briefly why this is?
Seb W – It definitely has an influence on the board. We have known this for a long time. It is especially tough on the Slalom R&D with team riders having different sail brands; they never have the same opinion about a board. It depends on rig weight and how much lift the sail produces. If the sail has little lift, you need to create more from the boards, and vice-versa. If your sail has a lot of lift, you can go with less in the shape.
Keith T – I think more than anything, in any of these sail designs, it’s more about how that specific sail is pulling and pushing as opposed to if it has 5, 4 or 3 battens. I really try to make a board that handles any way a sail pulls or pushes. There are so many sail brands (and I can’t try them all) I can’t make a design specific to a sail. It’s more up to the user to adjust fin positions, mast track positions and stance, to compensate for sail push or pull.
Dany B – In my opinion, the sail type or how many battens a sail has got, is not really affecting the behaviour of the board. Depending on the design of the sail (what it’s made for and where the power of the sail is concentrated) it will give you more or less grip on the board, but I doubt that the battens have an influence. If you have a sail that has the main power point under and around the boom, you will have more grip on the board, than if the power point would be higher up the boom, making your fins have more lift and slidey feeling. It is true however, that because we test some boards with our own sails, that these boards will match up well with them.
Scotty M – It’s not about how many battens a sail has, it about the design of the sail and how it functions with the relationship to the board that’s important. Par example; Ben Severne likes the S1 and I like the Blade within the Severne range. The S1 is more clew sensitive and responsive, and the Blade more balanced between the hands with more clew pressure in a top turn.
With the Quads, there is a correlation between rail pressure and clew pressure (of the Blade) for drive, acceleration and rail connection; whereas, the Nuevo and the S1 are more suited to each other with a more steering responsive style.
Basically, when I used the S1 on the quad, I went to top turn – and once I put the board on the rail I over sheeted the clew because the pressure I was used to wasn’t there. The Nuevos don’t like to be pushed so hard, and have a more sensitive steering style, which is more suited to the S1.
Cisco G – Our boards get developed along with our sails and components and the other way around, so for each gram we are able to reduce off the pressure that the sail puts on the board or drive us faster forward - we add and reduce a mm on the rocker and outline. This along with our evolution to make it all sync is how our company moves forward. A new sail, mast or board will influence the rest of the gear and the other way around – and it goes on and on.
For example, both of our four batten wave sails (Banzai & Guru) have a lot less push on the mast track than our previous five batten models. This lighter advantage allowed us to ride shorter shapes. In the future, cars won’t have wheels. It the same in our sport, we will keep improving, the future will be simpler, and our goal is to keep developing the whole windsurfing experience one prototype at a time.
Werner G – A big effect. Sails produce lift and put pressure on the boards. Too much down force can kill the board. That’s why each sail brand offers different wave sail concepts. Depending on the conditions you are sailing you pick your rig. Riding waves is about balance and using a certain part of the board and rail section. If the draft of the sail does not line up with the sweet section of the board you like to ride on, you will struggle and you will try, by shifting your weight, to get there. This puts you out of balance and your riding will suffer.
In side shore conditions, everyone looks at surfing these days and wants to copy their style. That’s why the riders go for softer sails (less battens) that perform more neutral when riding. That way they can concentrate on carving the board and not worry about the sail. A solid rig will always pull in one direction and carving becomes difficult. In side shore conditions you can accelerate in your turns by using the turn (like surfing). In onshore you need the sail to keep you going and to accelerate in your turns.
Boards have to be designed to take advantage of the different sail concepts and range of use.
Ola H - I don’t think it’s very important for wave board performance in the big scheme of things. The important thing is that the sailor feels comfortable with his rig and it’s reactions. When we come to the finer point of tuning, the draft position and the power characteristics of the sail will matter, but it is not like a particular style of board need a particular style of sail. Something I did work on in relation to this is mast foot position, in particular in relation to front strap positions. There is this idea that the mast foot position is a kind of balance you are supposed to find, but in reality it is a super effective tuning variable for how the board reacts in a turn. For exemple, moving the mast foot back makes the board react quicker. The sail might feel a bit catapult prone, but this is not an imbalance, rather an effect of a setup that is more reactive and responsive. On the Frugal we have guys of the same weight, in similar conditions and with the same sail sizes using the mast foot almost 5cms apart depending on their preferences.