View Full Version : Formula fun - always nice to look at

24th December 2010, 02:53 AM


I want to evoke some reactions here.

To me it looks like a lot of recreational windsurfers are not interested in Formula sailing.

I was wondering why.

Is it because of the wide - some might say ugly - outlook ?
Or is it because of the huge rigs that are used ?
Is it not cool enough ?
Or do you have better things to do in light wind conditions :) ?

Where I sail, I sometimes here people say: "What is he going to do with that sailing boat ?"

Also on this forum, I sometimes feel a negative atmosphere around formula, especially from the long board guys. Often they refer to the "ridiculous huge rigs".

Personally, I like it a lot.
In very light but rather stable winds (typically summer sea breezes, where I live), there is nothing quite like it.

Perhaps it's a misconception of me.
Please tell me.

Any reactions are welcome.

mark h
24th December 2010, 03:38 AM
I remember this video. 2005, it was Wojtek winter training in Eygpt (I think). Wojtek was owning the Formula scene at that time, he did not use bigger than a 9.8m and got power from fins only. The Sonic 110 was a new "light wind" machine and the HS was on the mk2 version.

Like you, I still have the old F161, next to the F159/F160 I think this is unbeatable for heavy guys for sea breeze fun.

In my books, any full powered planing is better than no planing:) FW kit is not too heavy these days, and is plenty of fun.

As for the serious FW racers, I have a lot as respect for them racing in high wind/rough seas:)

24th December 2010, 03:26 PM
Hi Belskorpio,

Yes Formula is fun no doubt about this, but their is a lot who want an early planning and fast machine with less physical demand as the Formula, reason why the Ultra Sonic 147 is there, please see video in less than 11 knots of the match of a Formula HWR vs an Ultra Sonic 147 :)

All the best and have a nice Christmas

24th December 2010, 05:56 PM
Hi Remi,

I consider the US147 in the same category as a formula board, regarding this topic.
Of course it will be less physical because of its shape, but you will be using pretty much the same big rigs on it.

I didn't bring this topic up to discuss about US147 versus Formula.

It is rather my perception that a lot of recreational windsurfers don't really like the very wide boards (US147 or Formula or even the other wide slalom boards of > 80 cm width).

I wonder if it's just an imago thing, or are they perhaps afraid of the big rigs ?

Mark H, I agree with you, planing is also my main concern.
And yes, my hat off for the guys that do Formula competition in winds up to 20 knots on a rough sea.
I've seen a formula competition in Leba / Poland in 2007 with all the stars. Very impressive indeed !

PS: Remi, with me the URL of the US147 video did not work. :(

Del Carpenter
25th December 2010, 01:13 PM
Hi BelSkorpio,

My reactions as longboard racer in the north central US with a only a limited interest in formula sailing: my sailing is different because my conditions are different. I live more than 1,000 miles from steady winds, because I'm more than 1,000 miles from a sea breeze.

I'm in a lot of races at organized events with wind speeds that are often less than 5 mph and never get over 10 mph and where the winners are often on Division II boards. And sometimes on the next day (in the spring or fall) the wind speeds go from nearly 20 to over 30 and almost all of the winners are on slalom boards. Very few sailors use formula boards in either of those conditions.

Do I have better things than formula to do in "light wind conditions"... certainly yes. Big yes! With a longboard I can and do windsurf in conditions that coastal sailors think of as "no wind." My "light wind" conditions are too light for planing anything. Those days(most of the summer) call for a longboard because my Equipe will glide faster than my X-186 formula board will schlog. It's not the size of the rig, my most used sail in the summer is a 10.0.

In my book wind conditions are "light" (4-8 mph, coastal sailors are on paddle boards or not on the water at all), "moderate" ( 9-12 mph, good sailors with big rigs can plane formula boards), "strong" (13-18 mph, longboards can plane), & "high" (19 mph on up, slalom boards rule). Maybe I have the speeds wrong. Using words instead of numbers to describe wind conditions guarantees misunderstanding. Inland sailors who don't have to overcome tides or currents call "light wind" some wind speeds that coastal sailors think of as "no wind".

What is your experience on longboards?

25th December 2010, 07:03 PM
Hi Del,

I had to use a speed convertor, because I'm more used to knots than mph, but I think you have the speeds right.
It's indeed a good point you make about the conditions that are decisive. With very light winds you need a lot of wind stability to have fun on a Formula. Too many wind lulls below 7-8 knots and shlogging will be the punishment.

I'm afraid that my experience on longboards are limited to the board that I've used +/- 23 years ago when I started to learn windsurfing. It was a BIC windsurf board of 320m. Even not that long. But I still remember that these boards were indeed more useful in non-planing gliding conditions.
Those days I was very eager to learn ASAP all windsufing skills necessary to get on much smaller boards. It looked cooler. I still remember that I was often on MUCH too small boards to be able to comfortably plane, but hey it was the trend, right ?

Like many other windsurfers, I also had my period of non-activity (rather reduced activity), when my child was smaller and demanding me to stay more at home with my family.
It was only in 2006 that I really picked up windsurfing again and that I suddenly realized that the passed 10 years had turned windsurfing world upside down. Boards had become really wide, according to my standards. Rigs had become much bigger for the same wind conditions.
At the end of 2007, after much forum reading, I decided to buy my F161. Its purpose was clear to me. Planing with almost no wind. Soon you realise of course that the laws of physics cannot be broken. You do need wind to plane. For me that is 7-8 knots minimum and yes preferrably stable enough to avoid shlogging.

The thing is that with us on the North Sea in Belgium and Holland, you do have a lot of light steady winds in the summer, but I don't see too many recreational surfers on those very wide formula alike boards, taking advantage of it. The same can be said of long boards, by the way. I almost don't see any of these at all.

I still think it is an imago thing, combined with the rather big costs of this equipment when you buy it new. There is a lot of good 2nd hand equipment available, though.
Another factor is kite surfing, I think. Many of my old windsurf buddies still believe that they plane earlier with a kite than with a windsurfer.

PS: Remi, nice video of the US147. It looks great !

26th December 2010, 02:20 AM
I don't think formula will ever be very popular in the US. I live in Dallas, TX where we have pretty good winds fall, winter and spring, and then the doldrums in July, August and September. Most of the area sailors get plenty of "slalom" type sailing opportunities for 3/4 of the year.

I raced long boards for about 18 years, then a couple on course/slalom, but changed to Formula about 7 years ago when I got my butt kicked by the formula guys with me still on my course/slalom board.

Now I only race 3-4 times a year, but love to get on my formula F160 when the winds are 8-15 knots and everyone else is slogging 50-60 % of the time. A few long board guys are out, but I have to admit that while racing a long board is great fun, just cruising around is rather boring for me. If I must go out in light winds (less than 8 knots), I usually do some freestyle on my 1985 Mistral Superlight or on my formula board.

I think the issue with the lack of interest in formula is the cost of the big rigs (sail, boom and mast) and the perceived "hard to handle" large sails. This will be the same issue with the Ultra Sonic 147 so I don't see many folks rushing out to get a 147.

The large, hard to handle sail argument isn't all that valid. I am 65 years old, weight 78 kg and have little problem with my 9.2 or 11.0 sails. The wind range that I can handle is somewhat less than the younger formula racers, but all I do is change down to a smaller size before everyone else. I have raced in over 25knots on at least 4 occasions with a 6.5 sail on my formula board. It was NOT fun, but I wanted to race.

Once you have the basics and some practice, the nice thing about formula sailing in the 10-18 knot range is that it is pretty easy and not nearly as challenging or physically demanding as many people would think. I never fall off and rarely drop the sail, you just cruse quite fast anywhere you want on the lake, passing all other sailing craft with ease.

This year I have been on my formula board 21 of the 77 days I have been sailing. A smaller percentage than in past years. I see myself sticking with a formula board until I just get too old to manage a 9 meter sail. Hopefully, this won't happen for at least another 10+ years.

Long live formula!!!!!!!!!!!

26th December 2010, 02:34 AM
Yes- some strange looks here on the beach in San Francisco as we sail our formula boards all year round in just about all wind conditions. In the summer, when its blowing 20-30k and most sailors are on 4-4.5s we regularly sail and race 9-10m2. In the fall. winter and spring when no on else is sailing in 7-12k, we sail our 11-12m rigs. We may be strange, but we certainly get the most water time.

Del Carpenter
26th December 2010, 11:51 AM
Windsurfing appears to be wonderfully satisfying in all of its aspects. I think those who already windsurf and do not explore the joys of any particular other part of windsurfing are more likely to be held back by their current high level of satisfaction with the windsurfing they know instead of being put off by some aspect of the windsurfing they don't know.

27th December 2010, 04:44 PM
Hi Remi,
Im very interested in the Ultrasonic.
The video at facebook does not seem to be available.
Do You have another link?
Best regards

28th December 2010, 02:25 PM
Reasons people donít do formula windsurfing.

1. Cost. Board & sail are not too bad but a good fin & boom are.

2. Transportation & storage. I can fit my boom, 8.5 sail & 160 liter freeride in my vehicle but I can not fit my formula boom, board & rig inside. The board has to up top.

3. Location. Some places are not set up very well for formula. Shallow water, super light wind or difficult beach launch. Also I notice that most people tend to sail formulaís in wide, open waters. I donít see many formula sailors doing short BAF runs as the boards are not very exciting in a jibe.

Wind speed is all relative. I consider 10-15 knts light wind, 15-20 knts moderate, 20-25 knts strong wind and over 25 knts as high wind. As an earlier post stated we race in the S.F. bay in all the above wind speeds so formula is not limited.


29th December 2010, 10:10 PM
I think the lack of interest in formula is a combination of things.

1. there is a large initial cost. (boards and sails can be found cheap. booms masts and fins are not so cheap)
2. even the newer sails are rather heavy compared to a 6.5.
3. Americans are not in good physical shape (and most of the time not willing to get there)

I live on the coast with great access to launches and we have sea breezes in the low to mid teens almost every day. I sail after work and on the weekends. I almost always sail alone. If others are out it is because the wind is strong enough for free ride gear. We had a thriving formula scene at one time and it dropped off. Mostly due to the fact that races could never be scheduled on windy days. Lets face it, if you schedule a race you will have no wind or a storm with too much wind. Everyone got tired of not racing and sold their gear. Also many complained of the weight of the gear.

I rarely race. I use my formula board to just cruise. But I can go where ever I want. I have a circuit I do that takes about 2-3 hours and then I am worn out. Lets face it, sailing formula is hard work. It really takes some strength that must be built up over time. If I am not sailing I run or lift weights while most other Americans are on the couch.

I also teach windsurfing and see the same things. My students fit into 3 categories.
1. they try it love it and stick with it. (these are rare)
2. try it love it and dont stick with it for what ever reason.
3. try it, say this is hard, get into their SUV and go home.

This is no slam on Americans but lets face it, most Americans are overweight and don't exercise. I read an article in a windsurfing magazine once that sums it up best, If you cant shoot it or put gas in it we don't want to do it.

The majority of sailors I see on formula gear are European. I am just speaking from my own experiences but from what I see traveling, Americans have stereo-typed for a reason.

30th December 2010, 10:00 AM
if you want TOW and get out @ any time

why not longboard ??

if you trash the Americans - why not give your name and not hide as unregistered ??

30th December 2010, 05:45 PM
I think that COACHG has summarized it pretty well:

1. High Cost, 2. Difficult Transport, 3. Unsuited locations

are probably the most important factors why people don't tend to go Formula (or alike).

I know that transportation witholds me from longboards.
I have a closed windsurf trailer of 1.25m wide and 3.00m long. Formula fits fine, but longboard not.

Perhaps, the transportation plays an even more important role than the high cost for many people.

30th December 2010, 08:34 PM
put the longboard on top :)

how about Serenity ??

30th December 2010, 09:09 PM
"Why not longboards??"

While some people enjoy light wind cruising or sitting under a tree in a hammock with a cool beer, others simply want a little more excitement. Formula fills that need for some of us.

I am not knocking longboards, nor should anyone knock formula, we have choices and we go where we find the most fun and enjoyment.

Compared to Europeans, Americas are fat and lazy. I am an American and I see it all around. I have traveled to Europe in the big cities and hiked in Switzerland and Italy. I love to see all the people "on there feet" enjoying the wonders of the natural world. Many Americans also appreciate and enjoy the outdoors and are quite fit, but the majority are sadly out of shape and overweight.