View Full Version : Underpowered

30th May 2008, 03:26 AM
Roger or Ellen,

I have a very bad habit that I need to break. I have a tendency to pick the wrong size sail for conditions.

I think that the wind is stronger than it is, and make the wrong choice. The largest sail I have is a Retro 8.5 and the smallest is a Bic freeride 6.1, and I have a Neil Pryde VS 7.0. I did have a Gaastra 5.2 which I used too much and have broken one of the battens in the sail.

Could you give me an idea what wind range would be good for the sails that I have. I have two boards. One is an F2 phoenix 340 and the other is an Exocet speed slider.

thanks for your help,

4th June 2008, 11:50 AM
Hi Sandy,
I apologize for not answering your question sooner, but I'm on my annual tour of Texas and have been teaching and sailing pretty much all day every day.
We just completed a very successful "A Taste of Windsurfing" event at Windy Point, on Lake Travis, in Austin, TX.
60 new windsurfers in 2 days, and $1400 raised for a local charity.
Anyway, I've thought over your question alot, and I don't have a really solid "solution" for you.
Perhaps get a windmeter of some sort and then begin to learn what the differences (the fudge factors) are for the various places you are sailing (the wind measured on short vs the wind you will get out where you are sailing.
This could get you a little closer to using a size that will have you powered up.
Also, check the local airport's aviation weather reports to see what the wind might be blowing and factor these forcasts into your sail selection.
What you really need is to look over the Beaufort Wind charts and see what the different windspeeds (Force 1-6 Bft) look like on the water and on land.
If you see all the signs that the wind is F4 Bft, then you will know that the wind is around 11-16 knots and you will need your 7.0 m2 rig (something larger would be better).
Here's a link to a very basic Beaufort Wind Speed Chart: http://www.spc.noaa.gov/faq/tornado/beaufort.html
Here's a better link with photos of what the surface of the ocean will look like (far out to sea in a ship) at various Bft force numbers:
Overall, you just need to rig at least one sail size larger and learn to tune your rigs for the conditions.
Hope this helps,

4th June 2008, 10:02 PM
Hi again Sandy,
OK, I read your questions again and I see I did not really answer them.
As to what windspeeds would be appropriate for your 3 sails (8.5 m2 Sailworks Retro; 7.0 m2 NP VS, and 6.1 m2 Bic Freeride, my best estimate would be this (based on a sailor weight of around 150 lbs.)
Your 8.5 Retro would be good from whatever your personal wind minimum is to about
14 knots (16.1 mph). If you retune the 8.5 you might comfortably get another couple of knots out of it. So, say 8-14 knots for the Retro.
Your 7.0 m2 NP VS will probably get you planing (I'm not real familiar with this sail so I canot be sure how much low end performance it has) in around 13 knots, but maybe as little as 12 knots, and should be OK up to around 16 knots (maybe a little more with some serious downhaul and outhaul adjustments to depower and loosen up the top of the sail).
Your 6.1 Bic Freeride (I have no idea exactly what characteristics this sail may have) should be good to around 20 knots, and you could expect to get planing on it in about 15-16 knots.
So, you have some significant overlap with your sails, but to simplify your selection process I'd say at under 13 knots(14.9 mph) the 8.5 Retro would be my suggestion, then at a solid 14 knots (16 mph), rig the 7.0 m2 NP VS.
When the wind is a solid 16 knots (18.4 mph) you can rig the 6.1 Bic Freeride sail.
This is all a bit theoretical, and you may find that you can use the 7.0 m2 in a little less wind speed, but for Florida conditions, I would think being a little overpowered would be far better than being underpowered.
Remember, if you rig too big (within reason) you can always sail a bit "sheeted out" (don't pull the sail down and in as much when you are hooked in and in the footstraps)
and dump a bit of power. Ease your sheeting angle gradually and you won't upset the balance of the rig or your board.
Hope this helps,

4th June 2008, 10:20 PM
Thanks Roger for the info.

The Bic free ride that I have is an older sail, so is the Neil Pryde VS.

One other question. I have an Exocet speed slider which you help me with
the weed fin down at Sunset Beach. How big of a sail can I put on it, and how
small of a sail. For now I have been using the Phoenix 340.

How does weight affect what size sail to use.

thanks again,

4th June 2008, 10:31 PM
Hi Sandy,
How many liters is your Speed Slider, and how wide is it?
I think there are several models of the Speed Slider (I could be wrong on this)
and the particular size will make quite a bit of difference.
As far as how sailor weight figures into all this, suffice to say that the more you
weigh, the more sail you can hold down (provided you get your harness lines
correctly balanced and can commit your entire upper body weight to the harness).
There is a limit to how many liters you need to support your sailor weight, but if I remember correctly your Speed Slider is probably in the 120-140 liter range, right?
How big is the weed fin we put on your Speed Slider.
I cannot tell you what size sails until I have the volume/width of your board, and the fin size.
Hope this helps,

4th June 2008, 11:42 PM
Hi again Roger,

I will post the information tomorrow about the board.

Also, what would be a good sail quiver if I were to replace any
of my sails.

thanks again,

5th June 2008, 10:05 PM
Hi Roger,

Here are that stats of the exocet.

It is a Exocet speed slider volume 150L width 87cm
The weed fin is an gsport Orca 34cm.

I cannot use the fin it came with because of the weeds at Fred Howard.
The fin box is a deep tuttle. Also, would getting another fin for this board
help with what sails I could use with it.

If I had the opportunity to replace some of my sails what would you recommend.
The ones I would like to replace would be the 6.1 freeride and the 7.0 VS.
The freeride is about 10 years old and VS is around 8 years.

I have no problem hooking in but still have a problem getting into the straps. What do you think about the flotation that you can hook to the boom to help with waterstarting.


5th June 2008, 11:37 PM
Hi Sandy,
OK, that's the info we need to determine the sail range for your Speed Slider.
Here are all the specifications for your board:
The suggested sail sizes are 6.5 m2 to 11.0 m2.
So, your 8.5m2 Retro is right in the middle of this range and this would seem to be
the optimum.
As they suggest, sails smaller than 6.5m2 are getting out side the 150 liter Speed Slider's range, so for smaller sails (and higher winds/bigger chop) you would really want
a smaller board.
Using your 8.5m2 Retro as the largest sail in your quiver, getting a 7.0 Retro and a
5.5 or 6.0 Retro would give you the best quiver spacing.
If you are going to be sailing at Fred Howard and Sunset Beach (very flat water, even when it's windy) you could easily use a 5.5 m2 on your current 150 liter Speed Slider.
If you aren't getting any "spin out" on your 34 cm weed fin with the 8.5, then you probably don't need a larger weed fin.
I've never tried the "boom end floats" so I can't comment, but I know lot's of sailors who have tried them and they seem to work well.
Where are you sailing that you need to do deep water water starts? I thought you could touch bottom almost everywehere at Fred Howard and Sunset?
Hope this helps,

6th June 2008, 12:36 AM
Hi Roger,

Yes, I can touch most everywhere at Fred Howard, and Sunset. But for those occasions that I cannot touch, I have a problem setting up for waterstarting.
Right now I am out of practice doing waterstarts. I always had a problem setting up for the waterstart. Is there a point where a sail gets too big to waterstart. Any suggestions what I can do to help my setting up for a waterstart.

Roger, do you remember what the sail range was for the F2 phoenix 340.

I'm thinking that the reason I cannot get into the straps is my tendency to sail underpowered.


6th June 2008, 01:18 AM
Hi Sandy,
Is your boom height so high that you cannot put the boom arm on the back of the board?
If your boom is off the back of the board, then about the only ption is to grab the back footstrap and rest the boom on your forearm until the wind pick up your sail.
But my guess would be that at your sailing venues, there really isn't enough wind most of the time to get your sail "flying" enough for a waterstart.
So, uphauling is the better option.
Yes, being underpowered and unable to get onto a plane easily would be the primary issue in many of the problems you seem to be having.
What prevents you from sailing powered up to "overpowered"?
Then things like getting into the footstraps, jibing, committing your full weight to the harness, all become easy to do as the sail takes most of your weight and the board doesn't have to support you.
Hope this helps,

Ellen Faller
6th June 2008, 01:19 AM
Hi Sandy,
Good to hear from you! It looks as though you've escaped New England for warmer parts.
Sounds as tho Roger has answered your questions about the sails, and he's good at that, but I have used the boom end flotation device.
I've got pro and con thoughts on the boom end flotation for waterstarts, and I've heard much the same from people I know who have them. They do help to float the boom end, and are most useful, in my opinion, for sails with camber inducers, and in places with a lot of current, and in fresh water where none of us float as well, including the gear.
On the other hand, they restrict your ability to adjust the outhaul, it's one more thing to put on and take off every time you rig, and they don't really help you to learn to fly the sail efficiently for a good waterstart. If you are in shallower waters with not much current, I'd save the money for a sail.
The device is a great idea, depending on what the circumstances are.
good sailing!

6th June 2008, 09:22 PM
Thanks Ellen and Roger for the information.

I will save my money, so that I can buy some new sails.

As to the question why I have a tendency to sail underpowered. One is thinking the wind is stronger than it is. The other is that when I was first learning how to get into the harness I took a very bad spill. It was bad enough that Andrea and another person ask me if I was alright. Also, during that time a did a couple of catapults. What can I do to get over this fear of going so fast that I am out of control.

Also, is there a limitation for what sails I can use on the F2 Phoenix 340.


Ellen Faller
7th June 2008, 04:46 AM
Hi Sandy,
I think many women go through this stage, and getting tossed isn't the most fun part of windsurfing to be sure! I recall being there myself, and there isn't a short/quick answer for getting past it. One day it happens. So, after that bit of wisdom, I'll try to put together a few thoughts. Please check back later as I have to take care of some stuff right now.

Ellen Faller
8th June 2008, 11:30 AM
Okay, back to business... but without being able to actually *see* how you are sailing in the "overpowering" conditions that lead to the problem.
Some gear issues/things that can lead to that unpleasant "lifting" sensation... are boom too high for you (probably best at shoulder to chest height), harness lines set too far forward, harness lines a bit too long which means that you can't really commit to the lines and harness, perhaps not enough downhaul on the sail which can put too much power in the upper part of the sail where it is hard to control, especially for we women who do not have the upper body strength of the guys who thus have a better chance at control.
If your boom is at a good height, check your harness lines. Most people when learning, have them set forward, and long, in order to practice getting in and out of them. However, once you are really using them, the lines should be moved back a bit (try 5 hands or so from the boom attachment) and the lines shortened. This is because as you pick up speed, you'll be moving back on the board, sheeting in more, AND beginning to rake the mast back. If you don't begin to lean the mast back as you sheet in and move back, the center of effort of the sail will be too far forward and it will try to lift you off the board. If you *simply* move the mast back without having the speed, you'll just steer upwind, so there is some attention to technique involved.
Again, I haven't seen you sail, so I may easily be telling you things you already know and are doing, so please understand.
One important thing that you don't want to have happen, is to let your shoulders get pulled in front of your hips because then you have only arm strength to work with, and that is a losing battle. If standing up, your shoulders are directly over your hips, you have "neutral" leverage; if your shoulders are in front of your hips, you have no leverage and only arm strength; but if your shoulders are behind your hips and you are not bent at the waist, now you have lots of leverage and lots of leg strength (your largest muscle group is the thigh group). When your shoulders are behind your hips, you'll want to lean back against it as though it were the power boat pulling a waterskier, and the pressure should be through the front of your feet and not the heels. No pressure on the heels, as though there were a tack, point side up, in the heel of your booties. One can survive some major gusts by leaning out with the shoulders and straightening the legs.
If you then sail into a lull, you'll have to roll your shoulders in over your feet, and sheet out a bit to save yourself.
It is tough to type windsurfing instruction since it is such a dynamic sport, and there are so many variables, but I hope something here helps a bit. Please let us know how it goes.

Ellen Faller
10th June 2008, 12:08 PM
Hi again Sandy,
More thoughts, but on going fast this time. First thing, "fast" is relative. What seems fast now, probably won't seem as fast later on when you are more comfortable and confident at it. The transition from sailing *through* the water to planing on/over it is an exciting one, but people often feel out of control at the beginning. Comfort and confidence.
Remember, you don't have to (nor is it possible to) keep picking up more and more speed. If you are planing, you can do a few things to dump some of the speed if it is more than you care for. You can sheet out, just a little. You can head up wind a bit, which will usually slow you down.
Get in the straps and harness, go faster for a short distance, and then slow down. Practice sailing in the straps, then in the harness, then together. Learn to relax the arms and not hold on with a death grip, as tempting and instinctive as that seems to be. Once your arms are relaxed and you are countering the pull of the sail by leaning your shoulders farther out behind your hips and letting your legs do the work, and dropping your center of gravity, you'll be able to relax your brain, and will feel more comfortable.
good luck

11th June 2008, 04:07 AM

Thanks for the information. Some of it, I did know but some I did not. I do use my harness without a problem, but I have not gotten into the straps. The next chance that I get to go out I will think about what you said. And what Roger said about the size of the sail when I am out.