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View Full Version : Change for changes sake? - Ola H.?


marksw
16th October 2007, 08:36 PM
"I seriously don't think they would make better high wind freeriders than the current PA's though" OLA H. in a recent thread.

Hi Ola,

I was just catching up on some old posts and was thinking that a couple of manufacturers [Fanatic & Starboard] have kept 08 shapes same as 07 - PA's etc. AHD used to do this frequently.

Do you at last think certain board design is reaching a point of perhaps not even having to have a yearly range change?

I mean how do you make a better board than 06 PA's for high wind bump n' jump and 07 PA's for DLT wave board / high wind freeride. Global press certinaly agree.

If RRD had NOT changed 06 FSW's which I think are now overdesigned. Graphics aside.

Windsurfing is such a mature sport now certain kit design should be at that stage. Bring out a new PA when they are indeed better than the current ones - if you ever reach that point?
Construction advances aside - although Starboard have that sorted at the moment with sensible compromise between board durability and weight - unlike JP Pro editions.

In the past Starboard has been accused of releasing boards slightly experimental / before their time and letting the customers to take a hit [early Hypersonics and evos] - perhaps now they could stablisize certain designs? Rather than making change for changes sake?

I suppose this thread is only related to wave boards.

Your thoughts please?

Any changes on the 2009 PA's to report? :)

Ola_H
17th October 2007, 04:54 AM
First, I'm not really regularly involved with testing and designing, so my thoughts on the subject is more my personal ones.

The first thing to note is that there are two issues at play here. One is deciding what the _designs objectives_ for a given board should be. Ie what stuff is it supposed to do good, for who, how should it feel, sail range etc. When this is decided the second issue comes into play and that is designing a board that fills the goals as good as possible. Sometimes in the design process you might get some surprising results and might have to go back and adjust your objectives (like with the EVO which from the beginning conceived as a "slow wave" board but ended up a great all round wave board).

If design objectives does not change from one year to another, then it up to the shapers and designers to build protos that have to prove themselves against the current board in being an even better match relative the design criteria. Often the protos are not better, or only so little better that it is not worth making a new model. This happened to many of the EVO models over the years (05-06 E70 and E74, 07-08 E62 and E80 fx) and also to the Pure Acids (07-08).

An example of a update to "do the same thing better" is the EVO 62 06-07/08. The 07/08 is clearly a more well rounded shape but it does the same things as the 06, only better. An even more extreme example would be the PA73 06 -> PA74 07. These boards are made to excel in the same conditions, but the shape concepts are pretty much totally different. A case where (I would say) the design objectives was altered a bit is EVO 06-07. The 07 was more oriented to perform well also in clean down the line stuff. Comparing 06 E74 with 07 E75, it is clear this was achieved. But for 08 is was decided to take it back to a more "onshore" focus (but keep as much of the of the line stuff as possible). This is an interesting example. Roughly, the 06 and 08 have the same design objectives, but the tack towards more down the line performance in 07 provided lots of learning experiences and hence I think the 08 version is better than it would have been of the same design objectives would have been kept 06 through 08.

But is the 08 EVO better than the 07? Well, this will depend on the sailor. Of course, it must have been thought that the 08 model would be a better board for the majority of sailors out there or else it would not have been put into production. Personally I also think the 08 boards are better for most people. But of course there can be som odd sailor out there who still prefers the 07. Similarly some may prefer the 06 PA73 over the 07/08 PA 74 (though I DEFINITELY like the 07/0 better). Some may like the 06 PA80 better than the 07 and so on. Generally, I think we do see some kind of objective improvement "in mean" but since taste is a so strong a factor in waves, it is very hard to guarantee improvement on an individual level.


09 PA? Isn't it still 07?

geo
17th October 2007, 02:09 PM
The usual story.
It makes perfect sense by a sponsored athlete's, constantly in touch with the designers point of view; a huge lot less from a common sailor's one. In the first case, one is always perfectly aware of what is going on and what the changes are, plus he is often testing the boards even at proto stage. In the second case, testing (and comparing side by side) is not common, one can only read the marketing bull**** and the result is very often just confusion and mistakes.
The idea of making adjustments to the focus of the boards year by year is to my eyes totally crazy. As for Starboard case: you have Evos, PAs and Kombats: what need to adjust "design objectives"? Just decide them once and for all and let know exactly what each lineup is good for! Isn't three enough?
By the way, I was reading a post where you Ola were comparing in detail the differences in possible two boards quivers of Evo models from '06, '07 and '08. This was the only way for me to discover that my decision to keep my '06 83 was right because the XTV80 has less light wind range. Luckily I didn't change.

Ola_H
17th October 2007, 03:11 PM
Well, I think it would be crazy not to "adjust the goal" (ie design objectices) now and then. Shapers learn stuff and in fact, windsurfing as a sport changes. If I go down and look at a beach in Sweden now, many, many people really try to wave _ride_ despite our often shitty onshore conditions. 15 years ago almost everybody only did some backside riding and concentrated on jumping. If design objectives of wave boards should have stayed the same I don't think there would even be a production wave board market anymore as everybody would have gone for customs. So over time, also production board design objective has to change.

And in almost all cases, the design objective changes (as I interpret them from "semi outside") only changes very, very little from year to year. In fact, the EVO 06 and 07 are still more similar than either of them is to ANY other board so it is really marginal in the big picture. The "general" design objective for each board stay the same, it is more in the details things chnge. And the EVO 80 from 07/08 is in my opinion a great success and one of the best EVOs made (and for me it actually has a bigger wind range since I can still fit my big wave sail on it but now are more comfy on smaller sails too). In fact, even if you go back to the original EVO presentation in 2004 ( http://2004.star-board.com/products/evo.asp ) the 07/08 EVO 80 might be the board that fit that criteria best of all boards so far. If anything it was the 2006 EVO 83 that was a bit "different".

Kombats are also interesting examples. If Starboard would have kept the same design objectives as for the first incarnation, they would definitely not be as good as they are today.

So getting back to were I started, there has to be some experimentation for the industry to move forwards. Producing good production boards is not only about deciding-shaping-testing. Some things can only be learned by listening to real customers and see how certain boards fair on the market and that knowledge is an important part of the design process too.

But a good point, geo, is that one should never change just for the sake of changing. With the internet and everything, is actually not so difficult to get good and rather specific info on how the new boards work.

geo
17th October 2007, 06:24 PM
Hm. Good points. But I don't perfectly align myself yet.
"Evolving" design objectives is one thing, changing them another. New objectives can be wider than older ones and encompass them because shaping evolutions make this possible; but changes just make things more difficult for buyers. It might be a matter of terminology, but every now and then I see people asking "I'm xx kg. and want a wave boards for xx conditions, xx to xx sail size, which one I buy, E, PA or K?", just like I did some times ago, meaning to me that it is not everything perfect.

Your point about the '06 Evo 83 is probably good at your weight: to me that board is just about as small as I can go and still have a board of some use, any lesser (light) wind range would make it almost useless. And I'm about 84 kg., not an hulk. Actually it lets me use 5.0 to 5.8 sails with ease, which to me means having a one board quiver; but just try to stretch it one way or the other and...

What I really don't like is the usual marketing thing, make a new model and make it obsolete after one year. I hate that. Maybe it is just part of how the industry works, a needed ingredient in the recipe of a successful manufacturer as it boosts sales somehow, making it possible to go on selling lots of nice boards at a decent price; but it is where customers' and manufacturers' interests are conflicting too. I may have my 83, feel it is perfect for me, will never use it any near the limits SMcK pushed it to, and see it is substituted by a new model that is "different" rather than "better" and that simply can not take the place of it... so I have an obsolete board, and hope it will not need replacement, just because the manufacturer decided so. No. I don't like it. By the way, I am waiting for a new slalom board '08 model that was just very very slightly changed after two full years production of previous '06-'07 model, which by the way is undistinguishable from the new one at sight unless by actually measuring it. One of the reasons I choose it is that in the meantime Starboard has proposed, for about the same wind range (6.3 to 7.0 sail size), S95, iS105, iS101 '07, iS94, iS101 '08 and iS96. Call that evolution, and hope Starboard is happy with it...

Ola_H
17th October 2007, 07:41 PM
Good point, but I think Starboard in general and the forum team in particular always tries to point out that the "old board" is certainly not going to be obsolete just because a new one comes out. In fact, I think this is more than anything in the heads of "regular sailors" and prospective buyers, and I would even go as far as saying the less "aquatinted" you are with the boards (ie the further away you are from owning one) the more important it will seem to get the absolute latest model. I think this is in one part marketing, but in another part the fact that if you're gonna plunge down the money and get a new board - something you maybe never did before - you're very worried about getting the latest and greatest.

Marketing is kind of hard to aviod these days, but I really think we try to build value so that old boards will not feel more obsolete than necessary. When a new concept like the Futura comes around it's more difficult, but in most cases the old boards keep their value rather well (value in terms of that a sailor using them will not feel they are to much dated by newer models).

As for the difficulty in knowing what wave board to buy, I think the three lines, or at least EVO vs PA/K (P and K are very similar) are actually as far apart as you can imagine two wave boards to be when it comes to feel and style. I think the marketing describes them rather well (within a limited space). The problem is usually that it takes some "talking through" before the sailor realize what they want. If you look at most of my posts, they are a lot about lifting certain aspects of the boards performance an comparing them. This is a "trick" to make the sailor think about what he values in a board (rather than just what conditions one sails). So in a way, it s more about educating the customer to make his own choices in an informed way. Often this pans out rather well, look for example at this long thread at the hot sails maui forum to se what I mean ( http://www.hotsailsmaui.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=1827 ). The person that asked the original question had done a good deal of analyzing himself, but in the end, I think, got a better way of organizing his thoughts around how boards work and what he wants from them.

As for the E83, yes, weight will matter, but I would still say that the 07/08 E80 offers more to more people. Its a better wave riding board with more "rounded" performance on a wave because it improves a lot on the achilles heel of the EVOs (top turn at speed) without sacrificing much in other departments. There are plenty of sailors your weight that loves it as s single board. But I liked the 83 too, and when it came I thought this was the future of the EVO concept. But things went a slightly different way. It certainly would be interesting to develop the E83 concept (more concave, less rocker) but there is only so much time in the world.

geo
17th October 2007, 08:25 PM
I meant "commercially" obsolete. Graphics changes put the accent on that.

Ola_H
17th October 2007, 08:35 PM
OK. But even graphically, EVO was extremely conservative with changes for may years. I don't think it's that over the top with a new color after 3 years. And now 08 is very similar to 07 again. I think you agree that without any changes, it would get boring after a while. Personally, I'm not much of a graphics man - newer was, but many people do think its important - or at least an extra bonus - with good looks.

A ski brand I used for a few years changed graphics the years when the design was not changed but kept the graphics the years the design was changed. Interesting concept.

geo
17th October 2007, 09:58 PM
I appreciate Starboard conservative approach to graphics, expecially in recent times; I like that much better than what they do at RRD, for instance. I agree that graphics could be appealing to some, and I personally used to know a guy that changed and choose boards just because of graphics. Nevertheless I still think that yearly graphic changes underlining model changes, be it substantial or just graphics, isn't any good for the customers. Personally, I best like boards with plain white coat, or single colour; and plain simple graphics. But that is just personal.

steveC
18th October 2007, 02:10 AM
The subject of this thread is really quite interesting. From my perspective, one of the most notable take on the production windsurfing industry today is that it has actually taken on the character and flux of the "custom" side of the spectrum.

In the old days when boards were produced from expensive molds, the opportunity for change was heavily restricted because a company was obligated to hang tough to cover relatively large up front costs for design and manufacture of tooling. To reap the thrust of progressive design changes at that time, folks really needed to focus on the custom side of the industry. In addition to realizing the latest designs, the custom builders also provided the opportunity to get into some wild and striking graphic statements too.

Now that the production side of the industry has matured in the direction using methods more like "custom" manufacturers, the opportunities to change and evolve designs, to include flamboyant graphics, has reached a dizzyingly level. Really, with respect to graphics, the production industry has reached a level that arguably exceeds that of the custom industry, since complex custom graphics are so time intensive and costly to produce.

However, with all the benefits of virtual "custom" manufacturing, the production industry has created an almost fashion approach to style and design, such that last year's trends are seemingly outmoded next to the current new releases. When you stop and consider it, the actual worth of last year's designs is significantly less, even if the product is brand new. Of course, that's great for some that can rationalize investing in an "old" design (I have to smile a bit when I say that).

Much of this fast pace fashion thing is artificial and simply marketing induced, it's interesting to stand back and think a bit more about the viewpoints highlighted by marksw and geo here. Maybe a slower more deliberate pace of things makes sense from both the customer's and the industry's perspective. Rapid change has its cost. Frankly, I think much of the cost of fashion and changing designs might be better invested in construction innovations that influence longer product life.

Ola_H
18th October 2007, 04:32 AM
Rapid change has its cost. Frankly, I think much of the cost of fashion and changing designs might be better invested in construction innovations that influence longer product life.

But I think you miss the point here. In my first post I say that changes are in fact not made if there is not enough "return". PA 07->08 and many EVOs are examples of that and that happens despite lots of protos being made and tested.

Looking at thiss, what can better give real sailing value to a board than the board being as good as possible? That new stuff comes out will not change the behavior of the current board. Suppose Starboard held back one year, despite having significantly better shapes ready. If you then bought the new board you would in a way be fooled of one years worth of development. Of course, it would be better for your friend just trying to get rid of his board from last year, but it will not be better for you. So, not producing a better board when it exists will only be good for the people that are selling their old stuff, and since the whole argument from the beginning comes down to being able to keep the stuff longer this is sort of a contradiction, isn't it?

The industry will always keep saying that the latest stuff is the best. And usually it is. But again, when you're allready on a board, it's up to you, not the industry, to decide when it's worth getting a new one.

A have a few friends who have gone for custom boards the last few years. Ironically,one reason - maybe the main one - is to get a board they can keep for a longer time. The reason they feel they can do this has generally nothing to do with performance or customization. It is just the fact that with custom graphics, nobody will notice you're on last years board, so you can just skip that update frenzy altogether. Psychology, my friends...

Ola_H
18th October 2007, 04:36 AM
And hey, within a few year, we will have liquid crystal coloring systems so you can just download the latest graphics and plug the board into your USB port and watch it update its graphics.

geo
18th October 2007, 02:47 PM
Ola,

I would agree if it was really like that!

At times changes are worth, other times for some reason some people's feeling is that they are just for changes' sake, which is why we are here talking. I am not much into wave sailing so I understand my view may be inaccurate, but I still don't understand why the Evo line was changed by incorporating some better "pure down the line" features when there is the PA line there. Net result seems to me just that the two lines are closer now, and the Evo XTVs sizes are no more so nicely assorted (again, that thread about the two boards quiver...); did I have to buy a wave board now, it could no more be an Evo 83/80: just a bit too small now! And a 90 would be too big and a 75 too small and a PA not so suited to mushy conditions and a K not enough rangy for higher winds and really good days... goodbye Starboard...

Another example. When I bought my S95 I discarded "brand x model y" because I wanted proven performance from #1 manufacturer, and the S95 was descending with slight changes from the glorious S100: easy choice, despite "brand x model y" was already there, with perfectly competitive (better?) performances. Now I am changing, and, guess what? There is a manufacturer, "brand x", that is still keeping his "model y" in production, with only very very slight shape changes and NO graphic changes, and it is still credited of extremely high performances, perfectly competitive (better!) to those of the last iSonics. Good for me, choosing is easy this time too.

My ideal manufacturer does not make mistakes. It just makes good boards, well tested, proven and refined. Shapes are kept year by year unless there is really something new going on, and even then older shapes are available for traditionalists. Lineup objectives are consistent so that purchasing mistakes are kept to a minimum. No marketing tricks, no "new" trendy graphics, just plain white or single colour with logos. Logos may change a little bit every now and then, but not so much that older customer are disappointed. A lighter, no paint, "gray filler" lighter pro edition is allowed.
Now I don't mean Starboard is supposed to behave that way: I am sure that a big manufacturer simply needs to adopt other strategies in order to succeed. But I also think that my "ideal" manufacturer is the one that will never disappoint his customers, and that a different behaviour implies the risk of making customers unhappy, which is why we are here talking about changes for changes' sake.

By the way: I remember when, at last, refined production sandwich boards (Cobra) hit the market and made custom boards almost disappear (now many former custom boards builders are shaping for the big brands). That was also because the production quality gap with custom boards was filled to a good deal. Now it seems that production sandwich boards (Cobra) are loosing some quality, and this could mean better chances for small (custom) manufacturers. Those who don't (need to) make continuous changes, who paint in plain white or with subdued graphics...

steveC
19th October 2007, 01:38 AM
Hi Ola,

With all due respect, I think that one's outlook relative to change plays an interest role here. Frankly, I think much of the changes the industry makes is more related to fashion and trends than real ground breaking innovation, particularly if it gets down to the yearly cycles. Now, I don't want to suggest that yearly development cycles are simply a facade or sham, because I understand that all the hard work that designers, product development and testers invest does yield results. Yet, I still serious question whether doing things a bit differently all the time leads to vast improvements.

If one was to contrast design differences in boards over the last 8-9 years, there are obviously significant changes that have been made. But, when it comes to performance differences, I think that the actual improvements made are really not that great, particularly in some areas like classic waveboards. Quite frankly, this is clearly arguable, and I'm sure that you could highlight some areas, like maybe the development of the EVOs, that spawned a different approach to the waveboard concept.

Really, I think one thing that might be overlooked here is how a rider's style and approach affects things. Right now it appears that the twin fin concept will have a growing influence on the market, especially since some of the top riders are using the concept to create a new style of riding. One only has to look back at surfboard development over the years, and I think that you can clearly see what I'm saying. At one point in time, it was a virtual given that longboards were dead, but history proved that to be clearly wrong.

Yet, despite new trends, does that mean that single fin waveboards are on the way out and no longer as good? I would argue no. Much depends on the style and approach that a rider wants to focus on. So, I think that a new door will open for a new waveboard model, but the single fins (EVOs and PAs) will most likely live on. However, will the yearly changes in a given model yield ground breaking differences? Again, I would argue probably not.

As time moves on, change is here to stay, but I think that magnitude of change will be quite subtle in nature. No reason not to incorporate design and construction updates as they're realized, but I feel that the simple fashion updates could be toned down a bit for customers to realize better value and less instant obsolence. Like I pointed out earlier, an emphasis on construction improvements would be a more desirable focus point for investment.

Ola_H
19th October 2007, 05:12 AM
Geo, don't know enough about slalom boards to comment on that, but regarding the wave boards, I still argue that EVOS and Acids are as far apart as ever. The crucial point is that both of them are all round wave boards that differn more in style than in what conditions they suit. Of course, there is not a 100% overlap in suitable conditions for a typical sailor, but big enough. The problem here is that when the EVO's came around, thy were billed _by others_ mags and stuff) as onshore boards for slow waves, but they have never been only that (again, check the promo text from the 04 site). Some brands do positions their boards more relative conditions (and optimize their short and wide board for slow onshore waves sacrificing range). Nothing wrong with that, its one way of doing it. But both the EVO and Acid have always been about a wide range but instead different styles. That may seem more fuzzy, but it is VERY seldom a short conversation (on a forum like this) will not put a guy on the right board.

So, therefore the "sideshore thing" with the EVO's is definitely not out of context. They were always good sideshore boards, its just that different sizes from different years have more or less of that "drive" which will make them rock in faster waves. Fx, the 70 have always been a drivier shape, each year. Still it has been just as much of an EVO as any other size. And the 07 75 was also a "perfect EVO", in fact germans SURF heralded it as the most "modern" version of this class of boards.

About the "assortment" thing, I think the current EVO lineup is better spaced. In 06, the 74-83 step was too large since the 83 was a faster design. 74+83 would make a good two board quiver for some, but at the same time, for may people looking for one board, the 74 got a bit to small and the 83 a bit to much to handle in high wind. Choices are more clear in the 07/08 lineup, and I don't really see a gap between the 80 and 90. In fact, my guess is that over 90% of E83 sailors would be happier on the E80. There are some special things the E83 does very well, but overall the E80 is just a better wave board (and in particular a "better EVO", ie more true to the original concept).

Steve: I don't know. None of us can look into the future, but if you look at riding styles and board shapes retrospectively, there is a clear correlation and both sailing style trends of pros and amateurs have affected things. long time ago we had flat rockered Euro waves and Hookipa pro boards, then Polakow came along and pro boards go faster which made them more suited to general sailors that started to ride waves more. The EVO came along with more rocker (again) but in a wider package and which led to an explosion in boards that provide good riding easily which again upped the general level and made a few sailors look for the sharper and now more all roudn "classic shapes". Now we're seeing changes again, with Kauli having maybe as much influence on how the pros want to ride a wave as Jason had in the early 90s. So, pro boards will change (and the twin fins is just a small part of it) and this will sooner or later influence production boards too. Its a never ending story and when looking back, I don't see that many "bad choices" in (wave) board design made by manufacturers. Most stuff fit their time well and some was part of a leap into the future.

steveC
19th October 2007, 10:14 AM
Hi Ola,

I thought I might throw a slightly different focus on my earlier comments. Yet, overall, I think that there's still a good synergy that comes to the top for the sport's benefit. What I think doesn't get as much serious consideration in the current scheme of things is that the past lacks a certain degree of weight and importance. Quite frankly, this gets back to my earlier general point of creating customer value, and quite frankly, establishing character and value to the past.

Of course, the future is always going to be the leading vanguard that focuses on new ideas and style. Nonetheless, I think that past performance and a positive recognition of earlier concepts and triumphs offers value and support for the brand. Needless to say, sometime awesome statements in time (that are often difficult to repeat) come from earlier designs.

I guess my point is that the used market supports the sport, and maybe more importantly, that the past can offer similar leverage in affecting the positive growth of the sport, particularly those folks with limited funds. Obviously, less industry sales in viewing this perspective, but the benefits to the brand may be just as noteworthy in establishing participation, and ultimately, leadership in the marketplace.

geo
19th October 2007, 03:46 PM
Ola,

as for slalom boards, my point is not much about higher/lower expected performances but rather about one make keeping one model and practically unnoticeably change it once, while another make throws 6 different models on the market in the same time to cover the same wind range.

I guess I can totally trust you when you say that both Evos and PAs are allround wave boards with mainly style suitability differences; nevertheless I wouldn't choose a PA for slow mushy holey onshore conditions, and I would hardly choose an Evo for pure side-sideoff down the line sailing. I am sure that SMcK uses Evos in classic conditions, and that KP brings PAs wherever all over the tour, but my abilities are quite a bit different, and as an (sub-)average sailor I'd rather use what basically helps me better. Unless it is not true that Evos do better/easier than PAs in onshore and PAs than Evos in classic down the line conditions.

As for different sizes... you are telling me that things may change from year to year and that a lineup may differ year to year, sizes be altered resulting in different ranges... This means to me that even sizes are a concern, you are confirming my thougths! Wouldn't it be logical then to define a model lineup properly and keep it that way through the years? Wouldn't this avoid possible purchase mistakes to those not continuously posting questions on the forum? My case again: buy the Evo 83 '06 to use it in lightish 5.8 to full5.0 winds; change (luckily I didn't) it for the 80 XTV, and discover it doesn't suit its 5.8 task as well any more. No, sorry Ola, I still think that at this point of evolution changes hardly are just for better; they often are adjustments in which you gain something on one side and loose something else on the other. And you always loose buyers' simpathy, as you make their quivers loose value quicker.

Ola_H
19th October 2007, 10:05 PM
Steve, Used market. Yes, it supports the sport, but for a brand, it is in fact important to keep used market value as high as possible. Both for brand image and for the fact that I think it is actually easier to sell a new board somebody if he can get a good price or his old one. But for beginners and people not so worried about having the latest stuff, lower use prices is better.

Geo: Your right about that for the less expert you are, the more sense it makes choosing EVO or Acid depending you conditions. How you phrase it: "what helps me better" is exactly how I see it. And for most people, an EVO will help more in "bad" conditions and a PA will help more in "good" conditions. But still the grey area s huge and very sailor dependent (not only level). One way of understanding why is that not all people do the same thing on the water and hence they might prefer to get help with different things, even in the same conditions. Some may like to get help with hitting the the lip easier (EVO) while another want to get help with finding more speed out the way out (PA or K).

Actually, I really don't se why you think the lineups are not "properly defined". Would you want them to be focused on just one type on conditions and one type of sailor? But then anybody that travels or even gets a variety of conditions at home, would need two different boards in very similar sizes to cope as well. As I said above, this is a possible track to take for a brand an some (most?) take that track. But to me, Starboards have for a very, very long time, long before I was sailing them, pushed the limits of the all round wave board. I think it is maybe Scotty quest. Even before the EVOs, the Acids (and before the surf, wild surf etc) had similar elements. The introduction of the EVOs meant two lines of wave boards which could allow themselves to get a bit more focused on certain things both but still very be all round.

To go back to the starting point, for me it s very strange to take the Starboard wave boards (particularly the EVOs) as examples of boards that are changing to much. I frankly don't know many, if any, wave boards that have stayed so true to their original shapes and concept as these boards which is kind of remarkable since they were a new concept when they came and are also rather special if you look at the market as a whole and how it has developed since. The 83 is maybe the only "exception" but that is also a very good board and as wrote above, it is still closer to the other EVOs than any other board so i the big picture, it is till very similar.

But I agree that when a board develops over time, there will always be slight shifts back and forth in "appearance" if nothing else simply because it is practically impossible to change one aspect of the ride without affecting others. So improvement is by definition also change even if we try ever so hard to keep the focus of the board. And as see it, one important part of performance it how well the board fit the group of customers. I think its more natural to try to evolve the boards to fit the customers than to hope for the customers to adjust to a "static board".

The argument about the that the level is so high now so that it is harder to improve is the type of argument that always will be and always has been true. I actually think that when boards and sailors get better, smaller improvements starts getting more important, so in this meaning it is as easy as ever to improve boards. And if we look back 10 years from now, no doubt boards will have improved a lot - and changed. Just as our current boards make a board from 97 feel weird dated if you go back to it now.


PS Geo: I'm not even sure you would find the E80 worse with a 5.8 and in any case the difference in pure 5.8 performance (planing and such things) is not that big even at your weight. And waveriding (also with a 5.8) will typically be better.
DS

Screamer
22nd October 2007, 10:48 PM
Another example. When I bought my S95 I discarded "brand x model y" because I wanted proven performance from #1 manufacturer, and the S95 was descending with slight changes from the glorious S100: easy choice, despite "brand x model y" was already there, with perfectly competitive (better?) performances. Now I am changing, and, guess what? There is a manufacturer, "brand x", that is still keeping his "model y" in production, with only very very slight shape changes and NO graphic changes, and it is still credited of extremely high performances, perfectly competitive (better!) to those of the last iSonics. Good for me, choosing is easy this time too.


Hi Geo

No need to be so mysterious here, I am interested to hear what exactly is XY model/brand? Especially the part about "competitive or better" than iS. As far as I'm concerned, iS is a huge change for the better (majority of average sailors seem to agree, too) compared to Sonics pre- 2006. Now I don't know if that change would've been here if *board only gradually/slightly changed the existing Sonic (as good as it was). Please don't get me wrong, I am not being defensive or anything, just curious of your thoughts/experiences.

Btw I agree with a lot of what you say, and I've found myself nearly frustrated with the gear changes sometimes (especially the early days of Formula). But when I look at the improvements made for the last decade or even less, I'm afraid it's the very nature of the industry and the sport. So I guess we'll have to live with it.

steveC
23rd October 2007, 12:48 AM
My best guess would be the CA 58.

Floyd
24th October 2007, 12:58 AM
Steve`s right in one thing its an interesting thread.
Every few years we seem to think board design has reached its Zenith and change is just change and it sometimes seems little improvement.It even seems industyry is govenrned by revolution (ie things coming back around again) rather than real evolution.
Thankfully in reality this is not the case.Minute developments year on year do have really significant effect over a few years.
In my opinion boards have reached a stage I never thought they would; in that my Kombat is fantastic in waves; gybes great; handles chop ;planes early (relatively) and is damned fast.Not lonng since we had to have one or the other. Comfortable or fast.Good in waves or early planing.Boards have changed beyond all recognition.Obviously there have been a few dead ends but generally speaking we have come a long long way.If you dont want to change every year thats fine but without doubt if you dont change after 3/4 seasons you ARE missing out.
I do think rig development has peaked though !(Perhaps 3 seasons ago)
Wind for next week !!??

geo
24th October 2007, 03:54 PM
Hi Geo

No need to be so mysterious here, I am interested to hear what exactly is XY model/brand? ...

Hi Scremer,

I don't want to start a discussion about xy being superior/inferior to ziS. My point is that good refined products from experienced shapers are very close in performance and differences are mostly about "how" rather than "how much". Again, '06 Sonic 95 was almost unchanged from '04 and '05 Sonic 100 and was competitive with xy. Another year of breakthrough evolutions, and we have new '07 model such as iS94 and 101... still competitive with an almost unchanged xy. As for '08, it seems things are still the same. So what? Is it possible for xy to be competitive against models whose performances have evolved "so much"? Or maybe someone is cheating? Among all other considerations, did I buy an xy back in '06 now I would still have a commercially "up to date" board; having bought a board from a make that cares so much about evolution, I have an obsolete one instead... with still competitive performances.

marksw
24th October 2007, 07:06 PM
...this is spot on with my original post GEO. One of the main reasons people say not to buy a custom board is resale value. Not that within a couple of years it will be outdated. - or you might end up with a board that you didn't want????? - not unless you're a d**b f**k.

These comments are the same with a production board but you know that it WILL be outdated within maximum 12 months if you buy early in the season. Which many people don't as tests [when did a test report last surprise you?] have not come out.

Don't get me started on magazine testting - although I must say that BOARDS UK has a much better angle these days writing more intelligently around the industry.

If you are a decent sailor and know what you want - buying a custom should be your first option in some cases.

If you buy an 2008 board now, by 2010 season it will only be worth max 50% of its value. And 2011 much less. By 2012 it is worthless i.e. 10 - 15% of original value. And it will look like s**t and you'll want a new one.

I am considering buying a Proof custom RipLine [my spec.] rather than a SB Kombat or JP / RRD FSW. These boards have only slightly changed in recent years so buying a custom I no longer have to deal with this 'change for changes sake' business.

And if I like it I will probably replace my 06 Acid in a year or so.

Price for a custom is only marginally higher than a production board and you have something handmade! How cool is that! And bearing in mind windsurfing is not a green sport by any stretch of the imagination - you haven't had it carted all the way from China!

steveC
25th October 2007, 04:03 AM
I thought that would be noteworthy to bring up a point that's a reality, at least in my world. While many folks here appear to rely on the availability of a resale market to recycle their slightly used older product and to partially fund new product, what does one do if there is no resale market?

Assume for a moment that if you buy a product, you're ultimately stuck with it. In that light, an investment becomes much more of a long term commitment where a number of important concerns come to the forefront. Chief among these concerns is product quality and durability, as nobody wants the bottom to drop out in a season or two. Probably no less important is a product's design life and its long term fitness for the task, particularly if it's considered a leading edge product when you buy it. Lastly, although not fundamental to its use and performance, the appearance of a product must appeal to a person's sense of style and character. No doubt, looks can be an important statement, and one would hope that a certain timelessness and vibrancy exists in the graphic design over the long haul.

Now, every day is a new day, and there is always going to be a certain degree of change possible. Usually things follow a pattern of slow evolution rather than the idea of abrupt revolution. Clothes provide an excellent example to work with, because while things are constantly being changed in some way up to four times a year, the core concepts remain relatively unchanged because the basic attributes of the human body really don't change. Of course, even though the idea of what's fashionable and current is driven very hard all the time by the clothing industry, one has to think that a windsurfing board would be more like a bicycle or car where function and purpose can be depended on for long term serviceability and performance.

I guess the question needs to be asked whether one is being left in the dust the following year or two (or maybe even 4-6 years) as you try to realize the value in the product you bought. Although this is certainly an arguable point if one was a pro competitor in the arena with top flight talent looking for any kind positive margin to leverage from, I seriously doubt that the year to year evolution is that meaningful to the average sailor. I think I can say this with a certain degree of confidence, because of my personal experiences. The high wind boards I have been using are at least a 11-12 year old design, and while they could be viewed as a bit narrower and a tad longer, I don't find that I'm being readily dusted by my fellow sailors. Even looking at my slalom boards (one from 1999 and a replacement from late 2006), the performance differences aren't that dramatic. Right now, my newest one is beached due to damage, and I'm back on the old one for a while. Am I disappointed and getting embarrassed by others on the lastest thing? Not hardly.

As I suggested in an earlier post, I think that past products shouldn't be viewed as unfashionable and somehow less potent. I feel that history sometimes doesn't get the recognition and respect it deserves. Over time, products do wear out due to use and must be replaced, I would hope that folks could buy with some confidence and feel proud over the long haul.

I seriously doubt at too many Ferrari owners feel embarrassed by their older model designs.

Floyd
25th October 2007, 09:32 PM
Yes but Steve drive an old Dino and then have a go in an F40; 355 or anything post 95.You would give the Dino away(except that its worth a Fortune)
Compare a Caterham 7 from 95 to one from 05.Yes the 95 was good but the 05`s are just sublime.Same with Porsche. (Compare a 944 with a Boxster!)
Time moves on.

If you are buying very specialist kit I sort of agree.Dont think my old Slalom board from Circa 87 would be that slow (with modern rigs on it)
However over past few seasons it really has become possible to have a board that can compete on speed terms with likes of Sputniks ; ealy planing on a par with Astro Rocks and then be more than capable in waves/chop. (Kombats/Fanatic Hawks/Goya FXR`s)
Few weeks ago mate was on his Thomen(speed/slalom board from late 90`s). Not long since I woukld have had to put my similar (horrible sailing) board on to keep up.I put Goya FXR on and he was struggling keeping up with me; plus I was making gybes.(And he`s better sailor)
I know we are comparing stuff thats almost 10 years old but the mere fact we look at it says a lot about pace of board development.
A new board will be worn out in five years and to my mind obsolete. Roughly 200 a year depreciation for best sport in world is nothing.
BTW depreciation on Custom boards is double that on production. You dont have a clue what you are buying with a 3 year old Custom so nobody buys them 2nd hand.(Not at a price worth selling them for anyway)

Boards . Carve 131. Goya FXR 105. Acid 86.
PS Want to try Futura.(Didnt like S type) as replacement for Carve.