View Full Version : Pros and cons of smaller sails on Formula

17th May 2007, 04:13 PM
Hi all..
I just got myself a formula board. It's a 159 in nice condition.
A few days ago I rode a 159 with a 8.5 freerace sail and had a great blast, even in light winds (I'm 97 kgs and quite experienced on smaller gear)..
8.5 is said to be a very small sail for this board at my size (but I still had a lot of fun).
Sooo, what are the gains of getting a bigger sail when we talk about early planing, pointing etc. for recretional use.
Some say that the pure +10 m2 race sails don't really plane much earlier than smaller freerace sails but pointing and downwind is a lot better.
Will I really get a lot more fun from a +10 sail if I don't intend to go racing.
Pointing on my 159 with the 8.5 is seriousely better than on my smaller boards already. Fun factor is high and $$$ very low.

Any comments are very appreciated.:p

17th May 2007, 06:45 PM

I,m 67Kg and my experience with FW 147 is with 6.5 GTX and 8.5 Overdrive Severne, in winds from 7 to 15 knots.
IMHO big sails are for racing or very little wind conditions. If you´re not into racing than 8.5 will do just fine.
Sailing with some buddies I notice that with bigger sails they point much higher than me. Usually we start to plane at almost similar conditions. I guess being lighter with a smaller sail makes up for.
With 6.5 I find that the fin doesn´t release and I have to place my back foot off the strap towards the boards center line to have it going.
I think the sail cannot generate as much power required by the fin in light winds. Maybe you could try it if you experience the same thing with your 8.5
So, I´m not sure if it worth expending such amount of money to get a 10.5 rig compared to what you´re going to get....unless your competitive nature makes some call :)

My two cents

18th May 2007, 03:15 PM
Well, even a drafty freerace sail is "small" at 8.5 when using it on a fw board. There is no doubt that you would gain both early planing (even though what you get with the 159/8.5 beats your S-Type by a lot) and angle. I especially find that what I get from larger sails is angle.

Beware that race sails are build to cover a "full" windrange from say 10m2 to 12m2. That means that a 10m2 race sail might only have similar grunt to your 8.5 whereas an 11m2 might have a whole lot more. For instance I am pretty much left to watch others planing with my 9.5 Vapor if the wind drops much below 10m/s (I'm not a great pumper and 95kg) but on the other hand I'm pretty comfortable on that sail in say 13-14m/s. In comparison I once tested my North MatchRace 8.8 on my old 159 and easily got going in winds that I believe to be in the 11-12m2 formula range. Then again that sail started feeling weird and backwinding etc. once the wind picked up. It did actually trim quite ok which surprised me. While not as comfortable as with a 10+ I did not really feel that uncomfortable with this size of sail on the board so I believe you can easily find a comfortable stance with this size rig.

But the real difference is what happens once you get your gear going and apparant wind increases. From that point you can really benefit from the stable foil of say an 11m2 race sail pointing a lot higher in low winds than with smaller sails. Whether that means more fun or not is a different question. To me it is; searching or optimal speed/angle is a great part of what I find fun about WS.

It is really hard to say whether YOU will have more fun by getting a larger sail. If TOW equals fun, then YES - but then you either need a 9.,8-10 drafty freerace or an 11m2 race sail (as noted earlier a 10m2 true race sail won't do). At your weight I would suggest the latter as that would mean a massive range in one sail. An 11 will get you going in all but the lightest stuff and as long as you're not trying to follow any fw racers upwind in light stuff it'll be plenty large. Many sailors believe that 11's pump better due to slightly better handling. Add to that the decent seconjdhand availibility of such sails compared to large freerace rigs (that people tend to hang on to). For instance DEN-13 is selling a Vapor11 right now I think, a sail that I'm pretty happy with also for formula freesailing.

The big question here I think is whether you're happy with the TOW you can get from your 8.5 right now. Even though you're planing way earlier than with your S-Type I kinda doubt that you get going in much below 7m/s or so (I could be wrong though) and there are plenty days in Denmark with less than that during summer. If getting on a plane and blasting about in 5-7 m/s will translate into more summer fun I suggest trying an 11m2 proper race sail. Possibly you can borrow/test one locally once or twice to see whether you feel it's worth it. If you decide on such a sail I sort of believe you will use it a lot more than planned as it'll be pretty comfortable to a least 10m/s with a rider of your size/skill.

19th May 2007, 01:52 AM
Thanks a lot..
Today I went sailing on my 159/8.5 set up. A good day because there were a lot of formula sailors practicing on our local spot. All on +10 sails of course.
It was the first run on my own 159. I trimmed it with the mast track quite back. Straps all out and back. The set up worked seriousely well. It flew in less than 7 m/s (didn't measure but I know the place quite well). Quite surprising, but my 8.5 is made for early planing.
As the wind came up I could compare to the "real" formula guys (who practise a lot - I have less than 4 hours of experience with formula;-)
Actually in 8 m/s I could keep up with them on speed quite easy when not pointing. Pointing was something like 15 degrees in favour to them though(quite a lot as I'm still pointing way better than my freeride gear).
They were better at planing through the lulls (and I'm still seriousely outplaning my freeride gear).
Soo... I had a lot of fun.. A lot, but I won't catch the bigger rigs with my "small" gear. Anyway I must say that claiming that Formula boards will only work with huge rigs is not true. You can freerace them with a "normal" sized sail but for sure you won't win a race.:p

19th May 2007, 02:17 AM

If you want to maximize your TOW as suggested by Barks above, I also recommend to get a 11 m2 sail to be a perfect match with your new Formula board in low wind (do it later, it looks like you're not ready yet, however).

When I added a 10.6 race sail in my quiver about 7 years ago, my TOW simply doubled (yes, 2x more TOW than that combined with all the remaining 9 sails) because the numerous light wind days at 7-10 knots were finally much much more enjoyable at full planing speed as compared to the boring schlogging TOW I had previously with the largest 8.2 sail at that time in such low wind. When I consider the TOW/$ ratio for these 7 years, no question it has been an unbeatable bargain and I've ordered a new 11 m2 sail as a much needed replacement. I bet sooner or later you'll be lurking at a larger sail to increase valuable TOW in low wind...

Cheers !


PS : don't be afraid of the "giant" leap between 8.5 and 11 m2. In low wind, it's not uncommon to have 2-2.5 m2 surface difference (constant wind range for my 65 kg : 7-12 knots with 10.6 m2; 10-15 knots with 8.2 m2).

19th May 2007, 08:13 AM
Sometimes I think that all this TOW thing is a bit confusing, and especially as it relates to formula style gear. One needs to ask themselves much about their launching conditions, because surf launches with rock bottoms can effectively eliminate the viability of large 70cm fins. Also, high tide exits on big formula gear can be totally out of the question. As a simple mistake would cost a fortune, and you could easily place yourself in terrible physical risk at the same time.

And, let's not forget, the existence of weeds changes everything, because that vertical fin will cause no end to problems. More of the hipe of formula equipment being some kind of cure also should also include the concessions one must face when using greatly raked fins.

I'm not against the formula concept, but I often feel that folks receive an unrealistic view about how workable the gear truly is.

19th May 2007, 12:20 PM
Hi SteveC (and thanks Jean-Marc)
Until a week ago my thoughts were the same as yours considering formula gear. Six years ago I had a Formula 155 with a 10.6 race sail. Unless in it's ideal conditions it was boring, hard to the feet and only able to point. Since then I didn't see the point in spending $$$ on this kind of hype. Anyway the three latest sessions I had were all of the kind that would have left me schlogging, planing 45% of the time, drifting downwind etc. on my smaller gear. With the formula and my childish sized 8.5 sail I had 90% planing time and could cover a very great area of my local spot (upwind, downwind go anywhere) and I had FUN...
The new 227 cm long boards feel small and handy and very speedy (after my now 8 hours of experience;-).
My local spot is perfect becauce I can launch 5 metres from the coast. No fin problem. We have weed and it does catch some, but I'm surprised how little it affects the performance of the board (my Aero/S-type won't work with just a little weed caught on the fin).
What scares me a little is not the size of a +10 rig but the price. A new +10 sail (the sail only) will cost more than my complete 8.5 rig including sail, mast, boom and base....

20th May 2007, 12:06 AM
Hi Per,

I have no doubt that sailing formula gear can be both fun and challenging, and frankly, I have often toyed with the idea of getting a kit. Yet, the issues I raised above have always brought me back to earth, especially because of the kelp and weeds where I live. Still, there are a few places where I could both safely launch and avoid the thickest kelp beds. Maybe if there was another person that sailed formula gear, it would bring me a bit closer to some commitment. I mean there is absolutely no one that sails formula gear in my area, and I'm talking at least 50 miles either up or down the coast. In fact, I've never seen anyone with formula gear, except in the San Francisco Bay area, which is over 300 miles away. Pretty rare stuff.

Although I only touched indirectly on the cost of formula gear, there's really no question that it's exceptionally pricey. If one could be satisfied sailing a 8.0-8.5 rig, the situation could be considered much more pragmatic. For now, sounds like you're having fun with it, but I wonder whether the lure of the bigger rigs will be something you can avoid. I guess you could focus on a 11.0 FE type rig that would take away a lot of the price sting and still offer pretty strong up and down wind performance. However, I could never accept the thought of an aluminum boom. I think the added cost for a good carbon boom would be a very wise investment overall.

Another thought would be the used market. From what I have been able to gather, the likelihood of finding a used rig in your area is a much more favorable possibility. I would expect that you could most likely save 50% of the cost of buying new and get last years top stuff.

In the long run, I'd be curious to hear about where this path eventually takes you.

20th May 2007, 07:47 AM

Yes, I agree with SteveC that second hand stuff from racer (at end of racing season) or last year discount is a good option (around end of august/september). When searching for best deal in Europe, it's not uncommon to find new formula sail from last year or 2 years ago which can become very cheap (-50 to -70% discount) while wave/freeride/freerace sails still remain pricey (-30% discount). Just shop around...

Otherwise if budget is a serious issue, a Gun XR 10.9 m2 sail + 550 cm Gun Select mast combo (or Booster 10.5 m2 sail + 520 cm Expert mast combo) will cost less than a sail only with other well-known brands.

Cheers !


20th May 2007, 10:54 AM
I had fun sailing formula for a while, and tried it with all types of sails from 6.9 to 12.5 m2. I agree with Per's observation that formula boards give you an early-planing advantage even with "normal" size sails like 8.5. But I also agree with JM that 10+ msq sails give an additional boost. There were a lot of days at my local spot where I couldn't plane with a 9.4, but I was powered up with a 10.6 or 12.0.

Ultimately I sold my formula stuff, however, for the reasons Steve C has cited. Plus I realized that I could get more consistent TOW without 10+ msq sails by using a longboard for lightwind conditions. And I have more fun racing when it's on a longboard.

20th May 2007, 04:48 PM
Thanks a lot to all of you for your inputs.
So, to sum it up my thoughts are so:
My formula/8.5 adds something like 50% to my TOW compared to the freeride gear and it works, great.
A bigger rig will add even more but:
For recretional use will I get the same TOW/fun with t.ex. a twin cam 10m2 early planing freerace sail compared to a 11m2 race rig?
Will I get a bit more planing (TOW) with the twin cam than the race sail at the cost of pointing and competitiveness??
The 10m2 freerace sail is less high-tech, need a little shorter boom and mast=better handling and less$$$..
Won't the freerace sail last longer than the pure racers? (a friend of mine got a NP 2007 race sail for his formula this spring, after four sessions it broke two cambers... it's a $$$$$ sail:o. Last year a lot of NP X9 $$$$ masts broke. Some of them on the beach when exposed to sunlight).

Anyway I will try and borrow a race rig one of these days, it may answer a lot of my questions:p

20th May 2007, 09:07 PM
Hi Per,

I think the 10.0 freerace sail and 11.0 race sail will have similar range and planing performance, and either would be a good step up in lightwind performance from your 8.5.

Personally, I would go with the 10m freerace sail, because you are absolutely right about the durability and shorter mast and boom. Also, there's much less rigging hassle, and a slightly softer, friendlier feel to a freerace sail, at least in the lower and middle part of its wind range.

Of course like you say, hopefully you can try before you buy.

20th May 2007, 10:18 PM

Freerace sails are more grunty, especially if you're looking for earliest planing in lowest possible wind because that's their primary design focus. A pure formula racing 11 m2 sail will have much more top end range than a 10 m2 freerace sail, again because that's their design focus. If you're not racing and don't want to have the maximum performance at all costs, then a freerace sail is a perfectly viable alternative on a Formula board IMHO.

As for durability between freerace and racing sails, I can't comment personally but my '98 ART TNT6 8.2 sail lasted 5 years and my '00 NP RX2 10.6 lasted 7 years before the monofilm started to become brittle and develops cracks everywhere. UV exposition while sailing is the sole and unavoidable culprit. The two battens above and below the boom on each sail broke late in their lifespan but were fixed quite easily. The top shear tip batten of the NP RX2 broke and was lost to sea (fortunately, I'd made lenght x diameter measurments of all battens when the sail were new, so it was easy to get a new home made shear tip).
Both a '98 North Viper Race 510 cm carbon mast and '98 North racing 220-260 cm carbon boom lasted 5 years before breaking. The mast melted and bent at a pressure point facing the top camber of the ART sail (rig left in the sun in a rig bag but I forgot to release the full downhaul) whereas the boom broke at the junction between the front boom tubing and front clamping head (obvious design flaw).

So in sum, a freerace sail is fine as well, you can't go wrong, especially on the co$t issue.

Cheers !