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Lewn
10th May 2011, 08:39 PM
Hi guys,

I have no experience on windsurfing at all and I would like to start formula windsurfing(mainly because in the area I'm going to surf the winds are very light 5-10kts). I am fairly athletic guy and I catch up pretty quick on sports. My question is whether I could start learning with a formula board and a small sail? Would it be a lot harder than starting on a big freeride starter board? My concern is that I don't want to spend money on a used board that I will have to sell back in a few weeks time (hopefully..) but rather spend it straight for a new formula board that I will keep. What do you thing?

Ken
10th May 2011, 09:43 PM
Lewn,

I don't recommend learning on a new formula board. They are somewhat fragile and dropping the mast on the nose will do damage. And yes, you will drop the mast on the nose many times as you are learning. The big fins (70cm) are a handicap for beginners because of their length (shallow water). Finding a small fin isn't hard, but the the board will be a dog if you have a 40 or 50 cm fin (hard to keep upwind and slow to plane).

While the boards are wide and stable, they are not easy to tack because the nose will sink quickly so you have to move from one side to the other very fast. It's very hard to do as a beginner or novice.

Look for a used, large freeride board (with or without a dagger board) and use it to learn. You will progress faster and you may be able to sell the board for what you paid. In our area, these large "beginner" boards are in high demand and get scooped up fast when available.

If you are stuck with winds in the 5-10 knot range, you might think about a cruising longboard with a dagger board. Once mastered, then if you want to go for a formula board, fine, but keep the longboard for light wind cruising. Formula boards aren't much fun in sub plaining conditions, they slog slowly. Planing on a formula board depends on your weight. I need an 11.0 sail, about 8 knots of wind and a hell of a lot of pumping. I weight 78kg.

Lessons will save you a TON of time even if you are athletic. Learning to windsurf is a slow progression and it takes a lot of time on the water to master the sport. I have been doing it for 27 years and have sailed/raced formula boards for over 8 years.

sergio k
10th May 2011, 11:48 PM
Yup, formula boards are more fragile, unless you get formula experience, so that's a concern
and you'll have to learn how to fix small dings with epoxy, etc.. but it's relatively easy...
Not sure I'd recommend to buy a brand new formula as your first board, but if you can find a used
one it's a great platform to learn in light wind locations, you'll progress a LOT FASTER,
in the beginning you can use smaller sail 5-6 m2 and smaller fin 50-55 cm, easier to maneuver, etc... than, once you get basics switch to 70 cm and >9m2 sail so you can start planning, getting into harness,
foot straps, etc...

sergio k
10th May 2011, 11:56 PM
and I'd totally disagree with Ken that's they're hard to learn on, I know whole new generation
of windsurfers that learned on formula boards, they learn lot quicker than the ones that take
freeride board option.

Ken
11th May 2011, 01:05 AM
Sergio,

I didn't say they would be hard to learn on, just that they are subject to damage and tacking is difficult for beginners. Since it is a large platform, stability makes it pretty easy to learn some basics. However, they are slow to tack into the eye of the wind, and if you can get around the mast quick enough to prevent sinking and falling, pushing the sail forward to move the board through the eye of the wind will not be easy for a beginner.

Footstrap use will also be a lot harder on a formula board because of their extreme outboard location. I don't know if the formula experience boards have an inboard strap option, but if they do, it would make it a little easier.

Learning to windsurf on a formula board can be done, but I think there are better options.

Also, depending on the REAL wind conditions where Lewn lives, if it really is just 5-10 knots, he will spend 3/4 of his time slogging. If it is more like 5-15 knots, the a formula board can be a good choice.

nakaniko
11th May 2011, 09:13 PM
5-10 ktn is the perfect range for the Serenity, imho the only board to enjoy is such low winds, but is absolutely not a board for beginner.
On the opposite they tell me that planing with (7?-)8 knots is possible for skilled surfers with a formula board but rigged with a full-cam 12,5 mq race sail, heavy and very difficult to uphaul and handle.
One way could be to find one of the first formula boards even strongly used and protect anyway the deck with a glued (or somehow fixed) thick layer of eva or foam, to be removed when impacts are no more an issue; this is what I want to do to (try to) teach windsurf to my girlfriend. Fin suggested a big seaweed fin.The counterside is the absence of the daggerboard
that can be frustrating in trying to go upwind, especially when you have to come back to the point you've started. I agree that buying a pricy new formula board for absolute beginning is a risky business; on the opposite I don't understand the meaning of hard to be tacked, even if the meaning is slow to be tacked, but for beginners the slowest the better

Ken
11th May 2011, 10:01 PM
I weigh 78 kg and if I stand on the nose (close to the mast) of my formula board (starboard 160) for more than 1 second, it sinks. You can't do a "uphaul" tack and work your way around the nose because it sinks. To tack a formula board, you have to step from one side to the other around the mast without placing any weight in front of the mast foot. While a beginner can learn the technique, it's a whole lot easier to be able to stand on the nose of a board and allow the board to tack by leaning the mast in the direction of the tack.

Once you master the "quick tack", it's second nature and easy to do, but it takes a lot of tacks before it's automatic. It's the same move as tacking a short (low volume) board.

Formula boards are very slow to tack if you begin from a slog, and they frequently will begin to drift backward before you can begin the tack. This only amplifies the problem of the sinking nose, plus it's almost impossible to get the nose of the board through the eye of the wind from a slog, so completing the tack (pushing the mast and sail way across the eye of the wind to bring the board all the way through and into the wind will be very challenging for a beginner at the very least.

mark h
11th May 2011, 11:14 PM
Lewn
Plenty of good advice here for you to consider what board is best for you. Without any doubt, Ken is right to say that there are better boards for newbies than a formula. Learner boards are what they say, "learner boards" designed for quicker progression etc.

Having said that, like Sergio says, there is a whole new generation of windsurfers out there that learned on a formula board. I was one of them. I learned on the "formula experience" Bic Tecno Formula 170 with a 6.5m sail and a 50cm freeride fin. I accidently planned on my 3rd or 4th session and nearly crapped my self, felt like 100mph, but probably more like 15mph:) I moved onto a formula 147 a few weeks latter.

What ever you decide to do, DO NOT buy a brand new formula, you WILL f*ck it up in no time, they are super fragile.

If you really are an athletically intelligent fast learner, then grab a cheap second-hand formula. The older, the easier as older models had narrower tails.

Heres a few tips:
For learning to plan, set the board up with the rear centre footstrap, leave the other two rear footstraps off for now as they will just get in your way. You will plan easily by putting your foot in the rear centre strap first (stops you getting catapulted in the gusts), then going for the front strap once slow planning. Not technically the correct way, but it worked for me.

Get yourself a "Jezes Knob" (google it. Its not a sex toy) this will save you a fortune on "ding stick". Also take a look at the new SB iDo, not seen one, but this could make things easier for the first few sessions. If you get a Jezes Knob, remember not to get your toes or fingers trapped between it and the mast, this will hurt like.........

Get yourself a big freeride fin to replace the formula fin. Around 50-55cm will do.

Progress fast and have fun:)

sergio k
11th May 2011, 11:25 PM
Ken, really didn't want to continue to argue on FW, but - if you stand on very rip of any board it will
sink ... FW board is wide and plenty stable to tack unless you're 220+lb or very clumsy,
in that case it will take an extra day to polish technique,with a smaller fin
is actually really quick to jibe/tack, and once you're comfortable even with 70cm fin tacking is not slow or hard ...
Again, If you're are athletic, want to progress quick and live in light wind place and want to plane
(personally for me longboarding is just as exciting as watching grass grow...) FW is a great choice.
And I base my opinion on very large # of beginners that did just that.

nakaniko
11th May 2011, 11:47 PM
Ok, understood. I coudn't imagine that a board with such a big volume could have problems in tacking, but now I realize that this is the consequence of the actual very short shape.
I've got an old flapper board, a custom board from a former local shaper, that is shaped like a race board with sharp edges, but still with 263 cm of lenght. Mine is the rare small version, it's only 73 cm large, and much easier to carry and handle than the 100 cm wide version, unknown volume but it should be around 150-160 lt, as the board is thick; pheraphs is from 2000 or 2002. In this board tacking imho is easy also form my 90 kg, and I haven't problems ofgoing backward: seaweed fin doesn't match so good with the flap design, spinouts but only in planing mode.
And so: pheraphs the older the formula /and so the longer the shape), the better for learning. Obviously I mean it could be possible, none can ignore that the best is a wide board fitted with a centreboard like the Start (very pleasant, I've ridden it some years ago)... or the future Super Cat!

Unregistered
12th May 2011, 03:27 PM
Thanks guys for the replies! These are really helpful advises for a newbie like me.
I will keep in mind all the protective equipment that you have proposed and I will not go for a very light board construction. I was thinking of FE.
I have found a used 2002 Bic Techno Formula in good condition for $550. Shall I go for it?

A good guy here advises me to first learn the basics on rented equipment and then go for a newer board version because technology on formula boards has improved radically after 2005 and it is easier to learn nowadays on 2-3 year old boards rather than older boards. What do you think of the Bic techno formula 2002 versus lets say SB Formula Experience in respect to technology, ease of use, handling etc for a newbie?

nakaniko
12th May 2011, 05:25 PM
Ken....
(personally for me longboarding is just as exciting as watching grass grow...) ..

Try the Starboard Serenity in 5-10 knots and you will see the light in... lightwind:cool:

nakaniko
12th May 2011, 05:46 PM
Thanks guys for the replies! These are really helpful advises for a newbie like me.
I will keep in mind all the protective equipment that you have proposed and I will not go for a very light board construction. I was thinking of FE.
I have found a used 2002 Bic Techno Formula in good condition for $550. Shall I go for it?

A good guy here advises me to first learn the basics on rented equipment and then go for a newer board version because technology on formula boards has improved radically after 2005 and it is easier to learn nowadays on 2-3 year old boards rather than older boards. What do you think of the Bic techno formula 2002 versus lets say SB Formula Experience in respect to technology, ease of use, handling etc for a newbie?

I only can tell you what I've heard and read abour Bic Techno Formula. It's CTS made not sandwich so stronger but heavier. Honestly I owned a Bic Tribal, CTS made, and it didn't seem much heavier than a normal sandwich, not carbon or pro.
First versions had the trimbox for the fin that cannot load the pressure of a long race fin, so breackage is possible, then better avoid them. and look for the ones with the deeptuttle finbox version.
Sometime it depends from material witch is made the finbox, my old custom flapper should have a carbon custom finbox and can handle my excessive 66 cm Rainbow even if has a powerbox.
Hope other riders can help with more/different informations and opinions, also for the other topics.
Anyway good to learn on a rented beginner-oriented equipment, don't dare to rent a 110 liters freeride board trusting too much in your learning skill. My poor formula for an absolute beginner is volume two times your weight, central width at least more than your weight.

sergio k
12th May 2011, 11:16 PM
Thanks guys for the replies! These are really helpful advises for a newbie like me.
I will keep in mind all the protective equipment that you have proposed and I will not go for a very light board construction. I was thinking of FE.
I have found a used 2002 Bic Techno Formula in good condition for $550. Shall I go for it?

A good guy here advises me to first learn the basics on rented equipment and then go for a newer board version because technology on formula boards has improved radically after 2005 and it is easier to learn nowadays on 2-3 year old boards rather than older boards. What do you think of the Bic techno formula 2002 versus lets say SB Formula Experience in respect to technology, ease of use, handling etc for a newbie?

Bic TECHNO Formula is a perfect choice , it's longer, has some extra float and planes easier without
pumping, so not as technical and it's durable as any board could be. Starboard FE would be a bit harder in the beginning, both about the same durability, FE has better upwind/downwind capability.
I would get Bic, specially if you can get it cheaper, use it / beat it up, and when you feel you outgrow it,
go for regular formula

Ken
13th May 2011, 12:58 AM
If you must go for a formula board to learn on, then the Bic Techno would be a good choice. However, the $550 is a bit much for a 9 year old board, even if it's in great shape. $400 would be fine, but the used gear market where I live (Dallas, TX) suggest about $350. We have swap meets about 3 times a year here and there is always at least one formula board.

Remember, planing on any formula board in light winds takes large sails 11.0 - 12.5, long EXPENSIVE carbon masts and booms. It will take a lot of hours to learn how to sail the board and handle the large sails so that you can plane in under 10 knots. The board will be the cheap part of the equation unless you can find good used masts, sails and booms.

sergio k
13th May 2011, 01:36 AM
If you must go for a formula board to learn on, then the Bic Techno would be a good choice. However, the $550 is a bit much for a 9 year old board, even if it's in great shape. $400 would be fine, but the used gear market where I live (Dallas, TX) suggest about $350. We have swap meets about 3 times a year here and there is always at least one formula board.

Remember, planing on any formula board in light winds takes large sails 11.0 - 12.5, long EXPENSIVE carbon masts and booms. It will take a lot of hours to learn how to sail the board and handle the large sails so that you can plane in under 10 knots. The board will be the cheap part of the equation unless you can find good used masts, sails and booms.

Ken, you're all doom and gloom and EXPENSIVE, think FUN :)
Used gear prices dictated by availability/location, $550 is OK if in good shape but of course, cheaper is better, specially when you just getting into the sport...
There's a price to pay for fun and windsurfing adrenaline/hours is still probably cheapest sport around!!!
Beginner can start with 6.5 - 7.0 with Techno formula, than 8.5-10 m2, I would go for bigger stuff when
skill improve and you know that you LOVE it, than get real FW board/big rig

Ken
13th May 2011, 04:00 AM
Sergio,

Any reason a beginner shouldn't be informed about what is ahead if he is committed to planing in light winds with formula gear? I pay what it takes to maximize my fun and I have a van dedicated to all my toys. However, I see a lot of folks with the wrong stuff sold to them by unscrupulous guys trying to dump their old stuff on any sucker that is new to the sport. Just last week, I met a guy at the lake with a 100 liter glass board and a 6m sail that he just bought. He had never windsurfed before. The board was fine, so I told him to keep it and in a year or two, he may be able to sail it.

At our swap meets at the local windsurfing shop, there are a half dozen volunteers that are the sellers of the used gear. We are there to match gear with each sailor's skill level and also to warn when the price is too high and also if it is a great deal. The shop gets 10% of each sale or the sailor gets 100% in store credit.

A knowledgeable windsurfer is a happy windsurfer.

sergio k
13th May 2011, 05:04 AM
Knowledge is great! But spending even $550 for bic techno formula is probably wisest money that this guy will spend in windsurfing, now if he was buying 25 year old set for $200 bucks, I would say he's waisting
his money; spooking a newbie with words like capital case 'EXPENSIVE' mast, I just don't get it...
first, he doesn't need it now if he cannot afford it, second, there's a second hand market were you can buy
it lot cheaper;third, even if you buy a mast in the store ( and I do buy 100% carbon masts every other year), comparing to what this sport gives you and other rec. activities, it's still bargain!
Guy is planning to buy a large/user friendly/early planning board, probably one of the best shapes for beginner even now, not a 100 Liter sinker - board could be used with sails from 5m2-12m2 comfortably,
what are you trying to save him from?

Sergio,

Any reason a beginner shouldn't be informed about what is ahead if he is committed to planing in light winds with formula gear? I pay what it takes to maximize my fun and I have a van dedicated to all my toys. However, I see a lot of folks with the wrong stuff sold to them by unscrupulous guys trying to dump their old stuff on any sucker that is new to the sport. Just last week, I met a guy at the lake with a 100 liter glass board and a 6m sail that he just bought. He had never windsurfed before. The board was fine, so I told him to keep it and in a year or two, he may be able to sail it.

At our swap meets at the local windsurfing shop, there are a half dozen volunteers that are the sellers of the used gear. We are there to match gear with each sailor's skill level and also to warn when the price is too high and also if it is a great deal. The shop gets 10% of each sale or the sailor gets 100% in store credit.

A knowledgeable windsurfer is a happy windsurfer.

Unregistered
13th May 2011, 06:02 AM
glad sergio likes the formula board
however, he seems a little closed minded
there is life after formula
you think it is the best cuz that's what u do
you are barely listening to others
and longboards WILL gain popularity
the JP new wide board may replace formula populairity
AND Tinho Dolleras (spelling) of calema in Florida has a really decent custom board
we are reading more and more about KONA , Serenity, and other light wind options
Starboard has been known to be innovators in many of these areas of light wind sailing
they are adding center boards to GOs
where i am formula people have their days, butt my longboard has more days and can handle variation like lulls MUCH MUCH better
ie donut discard other options - formula is one, wide free-ride is another, even KONA is an option
keep the mind and eyes open
good winds and peace too :-)

sergio k
13th May 2011, 06:41 AM
Q was - is formula good as a starter board for beginner, my response was, it's great if
you live in light wind place and want to maximize your planning time,
if planning is not high on your priority list, there are other choices, Kona, some SUPs, longboards, etc...
it's your choice, like I stated for me, I'd rather go faster than slower, I'd rather plane earlier, point high or low, etc...
if I'm not planning - it's just not much fun for ME... But, when I drive to the beach with formula rig, and few other boards, %95 of the time I'm having fun and 'yes' I'm planning...
Popularity is a strange beast... jet ski are very popular too...

glad sergio likes the formula board
however, he seems a little closed minded
there is life after formula
you think it is the best cuz that's what u do
you are barely listening to others
and longboards WILL gain popularity
the JP new wide board may replace formula populairity
AND Tinho Dolleras (spelling) of calema in Florida has a really decent custom board
we are reading more and more about KONA , Serenity, and other light wind options
Starboard has been known to be innovators in many of these areas of light wind sailing
they are adding center boards to GOs
where i am formula people have their days, butt my longboard has more days and can handle variation like lulls MUCH MUCH better
ie donut discard other options - formula is one, wide free-ride is another, even KONA is an option
keep the mind and eyes open
good winds and peace too :-)

nakaniko
15th May 2011, 06:06 AM
I've just made a test today in late afternoon.
Wind slightly less than 10 ktn but increasing, 138 lt wide board, 9,5 camless sail (Hot Sails Maui Stealth from 2003), rigged over a cheap 490/30 100% carbon by Tribord-Decathlon with long extension and a ridiculous fully extended alloy cheap boom. Lots of fun.

http://img4.fotoalbum.virgilio.it/v/www1-6/649/64903/105418/CIMG0798-vi.jpg

http://img2.fotoalbum.virgilio.it/v/www1-3/649/64903/105418/CIMG0743-vi.jpg

http://img4.fotoalbum.virgilio.it/v/www1-6/649/64903/105418/CIMG0761-vi.jpg

http://img1.fotoalbum.virgilio.it/v/www1-2/649/64903/105418/CIMG0760-vi.jpg

I'm 90 kg. If you're more lightweight planing threshold could be lower.
You buy the new camless and stressless Hot Sails Maui Speed Demon 9,7 that requires a 490 mast and a common freerace boom up to 240. You save a HUGE amount of money compared to a 1000 usd race sail, a 800 usd carbon 550 or 580, and a 700 usd carbon boom 250/300.
Then if in the future you'll feel you need to plane earlier you keep the 9,7 for "stronger winds" and you go for a 12,5

sergio k
15th May 2011, 10:56 PM
Nakaniko, looks like you're having fun! One thing I'd suggest, alum boom +90 kg + 10m2 sail
is not a good strategy long term. There's a solution, find a used carbon boom, even if it's a broken one,
what we learned here in Miami (the land of light winds) with a some carbon fiber and epoxy, you can rebuild/improve carbon booms, doesn't take great skill, just some time and patience and you save yourself
lots of money, I personally widened the tail, rebuild head and extended the body on mine... and
made it stronger in the process.

nakaniko
16th May 2011, 03:39 PM
Thnx Sergio, I know well it. Using the old Tribord was only for first attempt with 9,5 in Venice, I could clearly see it bending a lot and the few times I was pumping I had the fear of a sudden breackage (not so good a mile away from my boat).
My goal here was to show to our beginner that also with a cheap rig is possible to do lightwind windsurfing.
Really I already own a good carbon 190-240, but it is part of the "rest of the world quiver", in fact living in Venice watertown means having two different quivers, one kept here for the rough transport and use from tmy boat, one, up to know the better, for the rest of the world, especially because in Venice real wind is not so frequent, mainly is a 5/10 ktn spot with only some windy days.
But the arrival of my new fantastic Serenity has somewhat changed the situation, now I have a lot of opportunities here and so I can also be prepared if wind picks up. The 9,5 is intended to lower the threshold of planning to 10 knots of wind, the level where Serenity imho start to give up.
Some concern about carrying a carbon boom in my boat full of windsurf stuff, so I was wondering if my old but strongert North Progression could be useful. But my choices are out of topic, the goal here is to show the windsurf opportunities with a formula/wideboard to a newbie (thanks anyway).
Edit: the counterside of my camless 9,5 compared to a cambered race sail is that reaching 15 knots it becames unstable and hard to control, on the opposite, a race sail can handle much stronger winds, they tell me