Saturday, August 31, 2013

Speedsurfing Tuning Tips 5

by Pierre Milutin

Previous article from the same series: Speedsurfing Tuning Tips 4

11. Fin trim

There are a lot of fins on the market. The best thing to do is do your reaserch on the net. Check up web sites and other gps sailers to see what's goin on.

You need a fin that you can trust and off course you have to go through the hard yards to test these fins. So, be prepared.

In speedsailng there is no law in what fin size you have to use to make the board effective. This is something you have to try out, to see what works in what conditions.

For example, on my Mistral speed 55 wide I will use a 28 cm from sail sizes 6.3 to 7.0 and maybe even a 7.8 which i still have to try out. But on a 5.6, I would go down to 23 to 26 cm fin.

Always remember: the lighter the wind gets the bigger the fin you have to take. Alos, the choppyer the water, the bigger the fin you have to go to. Speeding in choppy waters with a very small fin and very well powered up, is a death wish.

In lighter winds you have to go bigger due to board lift. If you are on a small fin in light winds you dont get board lift, so your board sticks to the water too much and that causes drag. You have to go bigger to get the board out of the water and get it smoking on the tail.

The next thing is fin stiffness. A good fin has some decent flex in the tip, while the mid section is stiffer. Why? When you drive the fin with your back foot it will bend the fin tip to give you lift. The mid section holds that constant lift.

A too soft fin will break down and you will loose the power and create drag on you board, so it can't hold on to the power.

A too stiff fin will create a lot of lift and then you loose controll of your power and equipment especially in chop.

So, if you are a heavy rider, then a stiffer fin will work better for you in flat water and also choppy water. However, it all depends how stiff it is, so if you can't gain controll your equipment then your fin is too stiff. Of course, that is valid only if you got the right setup for the right conditions.

So, this ends up doing the hard yards in testing and buying fins. It can get costly if you want the top preformance.

Wide based fins are only good in flat water, but I dont think they are faster, due to too much profile area. And they are dangerous in choppy waters. They only work to a certain degree in choppy waters. For me, up to 38 kts, maybe 40 kts, they work. Above that… I wish you luck.

12. Body postion

The most common body position and the most effective is to sit in your harness. Meaning, you use your weigth to sit in the harness and keep the upper body straigth, not leaned out. Front leg locked, in and the back leg with a little bit of a bend or more "personal choice".

With this kind of stance, your lower body from waste down holds the rig. It is not your arms holding it, and at the same time you produce the power through your legs onto the board giving perfect trim and explosive consistant power.

Why have the upper body straight? Because you put more weight onto holding the rig with your body and putting more weight onto the board means giving it control in choppy waters and producing more speed and power. This comes down to more drag racing and slalom technique.

As for speed, it's the same principle, but once your nearly off the wind, then you have to be light on the feet. The more pressure you put on the board the more drag you create. In speedsailing, your weigth is only there to be able to hold the sail down and have total controll over it. That makes you go faster. That's why you see big guys wearing weight jackets and the weight sits all on "top of the shoulders". On that way you can hold the sail in mega gusts with your body, and not with your arms, but still light as possible on your legs.

If the sail is ripping out of your arms, the couse of that is not enough weight on your shoulders, or the sail is to big for the conditions you are out in!

Speedsailing is a special discipline, so you have to take into account some important info and tunning to get the top speed.


The end of the series Speedsurfing Tuning Tips by Pierre Milutin

Friday, August 30, 2013

Speedsurfing Tuning Tips 4

by Pierre Milutin

Previous article from the same series: Speedsurfing Tuning Tips 3

9. Board trim

Dont get fooled by what are the best riders riding. A ot of people will see Antoine Albeau or Dunkerbeck winning non-stop, and people think those are the quickest boards on the market. No true!

It goes like this. The biggest names on the PWA tour have the same length and width like the production boards, but the catch is the bottom shape. They have different bottom shapes then what we get on the market, so they are still custom made boards. The bottom shape of your board can determine your preformance on the water to be faster or slower in chop! All boards nowadays go fast on flat water.

So the first thing to look for is a good V in the middle of the board. We call that a chop eater! Second thing is a good double concave. This can absorb the chop way better than a single concave or no concave! And last, the first 30 cm of the tail to be flat, but with a V in it.

Another thing to look at is the rail at the back "the tail". If the rail is way to sharp then you could have some good crashes due to spinouts or chop problems. Thats why you have to pay a lot of attention to what speedboard to buy. Most of the production speedboards are built for flat water. So you ride them in choppy waters, it can be very dangerous. But, mind you, all the speedboards go allright in choppy waters to a certain speed! Once beyond 40 kts in chop on these kind of boards… it can be very dangerous to your health!

Again, all the pros have completely custom made speedboards and have the logo of the sponsors on there board.

So, to get your speedboard running fast it always has to sit on the tail in total controll. If your are not in controll then you have to set your mast track position and boom height to gain control. When I say control, that means when a good to a mega gusts hits you, the nose of the board does not rise and go out of controll. it produces power and keeps the trim of your board down while smoking of the tail.

Before you bare off the wind, always try get to top speed crosswind and slowly start going downwind. Create a big arc - this will generate more speed and power.

Once your are off the wind your front leg always has to be locked in and straight, and your back leg a little bent. It is extremely important NOT to put pressure on your back foot! Ease it off a good 80%!

If you put a lot of back foot pressure you will overload the fin and create drag which will make you go slower big time. And if in chop, you will most likley spinout and loose controll.

The next thing is through the transaction of goin fast across the wind to baring off slowly downwind is to keep your sail as still as possible. If you move the sail too much with your hands, you will loose a good percentage of your power and speed. Your sail has to be very well trimmed for this to happen.

10. Harness lines

Harness lines should always be long 28 to 30 inch. I sit at 34 inches for speedsailing when windy! Why long harness lines? Because you want to keep the sail more upright so you can produce the more power. If your harness lines are short, then the sail will be much closer to your body, so you cant really lean out properly. When you do lean out, you will drag the sail with you causing the sail to tilt too much, causing control problems and depowering your sail. In that situation it comes very easy to spinouts, because you got so much power in the sail theat it is forcing you to stand up straight over the fin, making a lot of back foot pressure which will cause the fin to spinout - especially in chop.

This is in strong winds. As the wind gets light to medium, then you want to shorten your lines because you want to kepp the power on. If you have long lines in light to medium stuff, you will be leaning out a lot which will cause your body weight on the board to be lighter so there is no pressure to drive the board to get it to go faster.

I play with harness lines from 28 inches to 36 inches, depending on the wind strength and this is also valid for slalom or drag racing with your mates.


Next, the final article from the same series: Speedsurfing Tuning Tips 5

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Karin, Croatia, 29.08.2013.

Early morning bora wind (NE) in Karin bay (06:00 - 08:00). Couple of years ago that kind of wind was almost everyday event in Karin, but this year I catch it for the first time. Well, it is true that I was not around during first part of the summer, but still, it seems that weather is changing. And the winds with it, unfortunately. Bora was very light, barely enough for planning (some 10-13 kt). But, I was enjoying morning peace: the place was empty - no tourists around. It was a good session to fine tune light wind equipment.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Speedsurfing Tuning Tips 3

by Pierre Milutin

Previous article from the same series: Speedsurfing Tuning Tips 2

7. Board-sail-fin combination

To know if your gear is sailing properly, you have always look how your board is sitting on the water. It is best if you can get it riding on the tail. If your board is riding up to the front footstraps, that means your board is dragging and killing the speed. Next time when you will be on the water keep your eye on that.

A lot of people ask about mast track position and boom height. Here is the basic, but after you have to work on it to get it right.

Always start your base track in the middle of the board and your boom height at your middle of shoulders. See what your board is doing. If the board is dragging in the water, then move the mast track only 1/2 cm to 1 cm back, and move your boom height up the same. Do this untill your board is flying on the tail. When you have it setup right, even when you get hit by a gust the board trimm is always the same. The nose shouldn't flying wild into the air.

If your board is too flighty, then move the base track forward and drop the boom by small increments until you find the balance.

To gain controll in choppy waters, you have to move the base forward in small increnments and lower the boom untill you find the balance and controll in the rough stuff!

Problems may come from the fin, aslo. Let's say, you have 68 cm wide board, 7,8 m2 sail and 40 cm fin, which is great in medium conditions. As soon as the gust get higher to a certain degree, you get over finned. Of course, you will have to drop fin size to gain contoll and balance again on the same board and sail size. Or drop down to a smaller sail and if needed so, the smaller board.

Always remeber to write down all your setting, once you get everything right, so you will be prepared for your next session…

Never be too scared to try smaller fins on medium to large size boards when speedsailing. You will be surprised how things can work differently. Of course, you will loose your top end speed going upwind and sometimes crosswind due to a smaller fin on these kind of boards, but then again you are speedsiling not dragg racing mates or racing on slalom!

Always remember to practice to go fast across the wind and upwind. If you can do that, you will be tunned in properly and go even faster off the wind.

When you start now dialing in and tunning, do not go out and drag race other sailers untill you have got it right. I used to a lot of time sail away from these guys on my own, no pressure and get tunned in.

Use your GPS to analyse what's happening on the water and to see if you are getting quicker across the wind. Try to forged about off the wind runs untill you get it right. I know its hard, when you are thinking about speedsailing, but in the long run you will see that it is better; you will get faster quicker.

8. Sail trim

Different sails look different, meaning different profiles, different shapes and especially different leech twists !

When you have a sail with a deep profile "belly of the sail" (fer example, Neil Pryde) you dont have to let off the OH to gain extra horsepower, because the belly is deep enough to have it ba itself.

If you were to let off the OH then you create a bigger belly and you also start tightening the leech which will create too much power. The resulk is "hitting the wall"; you can't go faster and a lot of drag craetiong due to loosing shape of your sail!

Other sail brands have way less profile "belly" and then you are required to let off your OH, so you can bag your sail and create bigger belly to gain that extra horsepower.

I'am at the moment on Loft Sails and if it is a well powered up day, I will bag my sail so that the profile or monofilm is leaning against the boom up to my first harness line connection.

The best thing to do, once you have set up your sail properly, is to test and try it out on the water with various OH settings until you find the right sweet spot for speedsailing.

Downhaul is also crucial to the sea state you are sailing in. When it's choppy waters, then it's best to have the DH full on. Why? When you let of the DH you will gain a lot of power which will be hard to control in choppy waters unless you find a trim that suits your weigh. Heavy guys can get away with this to a certain degree.

In flat water, you can start letting off your DH to a certain degree again, because sometimes the wind can be gusty and you want to keep on the full power. Even if the wind is full on, you can still play with your DH to get some extra speed, but like I said, you have to try things out while you are on the water and pay close attension to your GPS and wind strength.

Once off the wind, do not over sheet because you will kill your power. Always keep in mind to have the sail sheeted in until the outer back footstrap, and hold it there, especially going deep off the wind.

In lighter winds do not bare off so much due to lack of wind power. Instead off baring off 150 drgree like you would in strong winds, you will bare off roughly 100 to 110 degrees. The best way is to get out in the water and try different angles in different conditions to see what is a better angle to do it.


Next article from the same series: Speedsurfing Tuning Tips 4

Monday, August 26, 2013

Speedsurfing Tuning Tips 2

by Pierre Milutin

Previous article in the same series: Speedsurfing Tuning Tips 1

5. Profile

Once you have rigged your sail, flip it over to the otherside. Do not press the cams or the battens to flip it around. The profile of your sail is how it looks, mainly on the the luff pocket, from the bottom batten to the 3rd batten, which is above the boom.

So, you have to look at the luff pocket and those 3 cams. How much are they pushing out? For example, a flat profile is when the luff pocket has very little shape, meaning the cams are pretty flat on the mast. A deep profile is when the cams are giving a lot of
shape, pushing outwards away from the mast.

The best profile to get is when the cams are roughly 45 degrees out from the mast. Note: this is only the bottom 3 cams, not the 4th!

This will give you good shape of the sail and nice belly. You dont want too much of a belly, that becomes too powerfull and creates alot of drag.

So when you put your spacers in, put only one spacer on each cam and then rig up. Mind you – and this is very important! - when putting in spacers always loosen the batten tension first completely, so the sail gets wrinkely and then start rigging the sail with the new spacers. Once rigged, tighten the batten tension so that the wrinkles are just gone. Do not over tighten - something might break!

The way to check if the profile is good: you have to stand at the tip of the sail, lift the tip and look down along the luff pocket and see how much are the cams are goin out.

Another important factor is, if the cams are still not goin out how you want them to go, then you have a stiff batten in the sail! The stiff part is the 2nd part that is connected towards the cam. The battens usualy have 3 stage. The back part is the thickest, then comes the 2nd part which is thinner and this fits into the thicker one. Then comes the fiberglass rod which fits into the cam. So, you need to make the 2nd part of the batten longer. The length is the width of you luff pocket where the battern sits, so each 3 battens will have a different length in the luff pocket area. The batten that you will shorten is the thick battern, the back one.

6. Draft

Once your sail is rigged, you will go to the tip of the mast. Lift it to eye level - you can be on your knees for this - and look at your draft. Where it is sitting? You will find your draft on the crossbattern - the 2nd batten from the bottom which crosses your boom.

When you look at this batten shape, there will be a minor half circle goin from the edge of the luff pocket to the clew of your sail. The middle of this half circle is where your draft sits!

For example, if the middle of this minor half circle is in the middle of the sail along the crossbattern, than you draft is sitting in the middle of the sail. This is bad, bacause every time a gust hits, the power will be in the middle of the sail. That will couse alot of backhand pressure. In this situation, you can adjust as much you want your harness lines, but it will still not work good.

The best place for the draft to be is very close to the luff pocket keeping the pressure forward and of. When the draft sits forward then the sail pulls forward not sideways, so you have a constant pressure of the sail pulling forward, and no backhand pressure. Connected to this: the first notch on the harness lines should always sit parallel of the back stitching of the luff pocket exactly where the draft sits.

If your draft is way back then your harness lines will sit back, and you will not have forward pressure!

Adjust your harness lines: get on the water, start sailing and slowly let go of the boom but not completely. See where the sail is pulling. If its pulling forward move the line forward but only on small increment (or, if the sail pulls backwards, move them back) You will be surprised that only 5 mm can make the differnce.

Next article from the same series: Speedsurfing Tuning Tips 3

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Speedsurfing Tuning Tips 1

by Pierre Milutin

These are the most important points to look for on the sail, and what to do…

1. Reccomended mast

First of all, it's best when you buy a race sail, to stick with the recomened mast for it, unless you really know what you are looking for!

2. Downhaul (DH)

Always look whats recomened and work way from there. DH adjustments only work well within 5 to 10mm not more than that, especially when underdownhauling.

Example - your extension is, say, up to 22 cm - which is written on the sail - so if it is light wind, the max you would underdownhaul is down to 10 mm. I would recommend 5 mm – that's all it takes. If you start goin more, you will kill the power in the sail making it heavier in your hands and putting a lot of down force on the board (meaning pushing the nose down to much). As the wind picks up you put it back to recommened.

The problem is, if you under DH your sail, you close the top leach which is your exhaust, and then your sail can't breath, which causes it to be heavier and underpowered. If a gust hits, you dont go faster and it becomes hard to sail. The sail has to feel very light in your hands and well balanced and when a gust hits it has to drive!

When the wind picks up more stronger, you can try to put over DH, let say, 5mm more than what's recommened, but only when totally fully powered to gain controll...

If you over DH too much, say up to 10mm, then your rig will be way flat causing it to be twitchy. The draft of the sail will go back and forth. On the boom you will have front hand pressure then back hand pressure etc., and also the top leach will be way too much open killing way too much power.

3. Outhaul (OH)

Always start of with neutral OH. That should be that the sail is just touching the boom. However, this also depends on the profile of the sail. For example, Neil Pryde have a deep profile, so you dont need negative OH. You just need it to touch the boom but not too much. On the North Sails and Maui Sails, the profile is more flatter so you need to give negative OH to put in the power again. You have to try it on the water and see what gives you the best results!

Dont forget: if you have a sail with a deep profile, you only need to let of the OH very little when doing speed runs. Otherwise, when you let of too much OH, you will kill the power in the sail and also creating too much drag because the sail starts loosing shape.

4. Leach Twist

The best way too find out your correct DH to get the right twist is to look up at the top of the sail while you pull on the DH. Count 3 battens down and in the middle of the 3rd and 4th batten on the monofilm look how far does the crease go in towards the luff pocket.

You want the crease to be roughly around 10 cm from the luff pocket. It is something you have to play with, to find the right settings for the sail to work at its full capacity. Like I wrote, it's only a 5mm increments on the DH!

We have two different kind of twists on the sail: static twist and dynamic twist, which both have to work together.

Static twist is the top leach. You dont want you sail to twist too much. While you have the rig on the ground, you put your foot on the mast base and press down. The top of the sail rises and you look at your twist. If its bagging down alot then you have a mast problem - way too stiff mast. You need the sail to have a nice even twist - like a ice long half circle twist evenly!

Dynamic twist is the bottom half of the sail which is the part above the clew. Normally, on the beach once rigged, the first 2 batterns above the clew, the leach should be a little bit tight. If its way too tight then you have the same problem - way too stiff mast .

How does the dynamic twist work?

When sailing, you have to keep your eye on this to see how it works ! Say you hit a little lull after a gust. The bottom second battens above the clew: the leach should tighten up which gives you consistant power through the lull. If the leach was loose, you will still go through the lull, but slower, because the sail is not giving you the power that you need at the moment.

Next, when a good gust hits, then the leach should open up and you will see from the top of the sail to the bottom clew of the sails that leach will compleley open up, creating a nice even half circle. That means that the sails exhaust is work great and still giving you control and power.

Static and dynamic twist should work together. If one fails, you are automatically of the pace and the sail will feel wrong.


Next article in the same series: Speedsurfing Tuning Tips 2

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Ždrijac, Croatia, 20.08.2013.

Bora wind, not as strong as expected, but tide on the right level. Flat conditions, and all in all, very nice day (maybe just too many people in the small area of Ždrijac bay). See the complete gallery - 25 photos on Soulwindsurf Facebook Page.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Warm up more!

Training session 14.08.2013., Karin, Croatia

This is an example of what I was writing about in What Is Your Heart Doing While You Are Windsurfing.

The picture of the training session with heart rate and speed you can see on the right, but also you can visit the shared training on PolarPersonalTrainer, with interactive map.

The first 13 minutes is warming up (something that I don't want to skip anymore). This is nice, in blue and green (60-80% of HRmax).

However, you can see that heart rate goes up immediately after starting. In short 3 minutes I am in red zone (90-100% of HRmax). Next 13 minutes, I stay there, more or less, with some minor lowering in upper yellow zone (80-90% of HR max). Well, I would say, this is too much, especially in the beginning of the session.

My conclusion is that initial warming up was not enough. However, I doubt that any amount of on-the-land warming up would cure this beginning red zone alert. Probably, the second phase of warming up has to be done with the board and sail, on the water. Something like this: short 1-2 minutes run out and back again, rest for a 1 minute; 2-3 minutes run out and back, rest again, and so on for at least 15 minutes. I suppose that would prepare me much better for actual session. All in all, this would be 30 minutes warming up (15 on the shore and 15 on the water), before starting the real windsurfing. It is not too much. The thing is that I am, like most windsurfers, always in a hurry to get in clinch with the wind. However natural this may be, it is not a good policy when it comes to the heart.

After that initial "wrongness" the session gets better, especially in the second part when I was able to sail comfortably in the green zone, around 75% of my Hr max, which is perfect.

If you play a little with the interactive map (going with the cursor over the heart rate and speed curves and looking where it is on the map), you can see that the heart rate increases with speed, but the highest peaks are in turns.

All in all, this was a good session, averaging cca 132 bpm (which is ok, but I would like it to be lower). The equipment  I used: RRD X-Fire 98 and Loft Blade 7,0. Bora (NE) wind, gusty, from 10 to 25 knots, flat to choppy conditions. Max speed was 35,3 kt, 5/10 average 31,9 and some good gybes @500 at 22,4 kt.

The main lesson of this session: prolong warming up to 30 minutes - 15 minutes on the shore and 15 minutes on the water.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Karin, Croatia, 14.08.2013.

Back to Croatia, hot weather, a lot of tourists and some good winds lately. After quite a while I visited my favorite spot: Karin bay in middle Dalmatia. Bora wind, north east direction, 10-25 kt, with lots of gusts, but mostly flat or some little chop.

It was a nice sunny day, relaxing and easy, with some friends from Croatia and Slovenia. Very enjoyable!

 More photos on Soulwindsurf Facebook page!

For those interested in background heart rate messurment done during the session, see Warm up more!