View Full Version : Formula Experience vs. Go 175 vs. Futura 155

22nd June 2009, 01:40 AM
Hello all. I'm a long-time reader of this forum who learned just about everything I know about windsurfing from Roger. Thanks to advice from this forum I went from never planing to always planing, in the harness and outboard straps, teaching other people how to sail their Go boards :).

I've been sailing my 2001 Start for years ... but it's showing signs of age now, and I'm thinking I should find a replacement board this season. I currently own:

2001 Start, which I sail any time the wind calls for 9.0 or bigger
Go 165, which I sail in 7.4 or 5.9 weather
Carve 135, which I seldom sail, because it's harder to sail, but not faster than the Go
2003 Start, which I use for teaching (it's not as nice a shape as my '01 Start)

I sail inland lakes here in the midwest, so I spend most of my time on the Start, in the harness and straps, flying around, having a blast. (I *love* that board!) I go 6', 200 lbs, so the big board is just right. In a perfect world, Starboard would make a board that was just like the Start:

100 cm
EVA deck


lighter, like the Go
maybe a more modern shape, with cutouts and stuff, to go even faster :)

I looked for such a board, and don't see anything like it. The most reasonable possibilities seem like:

Formula Experience
Go 175
Futura 155

The Go and the Futura both seem like they would be more similar to my current Go 165, and not as comfortable with the huge sails, and hence not a great Start replacement ... so I'm very tempted by the Formula Experience. However, every time I've talked to better sailors about the Formula boards, they've warned me that they're more technical to sail, and not as good across the wind as boards like the Go. They say Formula boards just want to drive high upwind and low downwind.

So: what do you think? How to choose? Any other alternatives I should think about?


22nd June 2009, 11:02 AM
Hi John,
Thanks for your kind words!
Let me think about this for a couple of days.
I think the Futura 155 or the largest Isonic may be more what you are looking for, but you are correct when you say it would be very nice if Staboard would come up with a form/fit/function replacement for your 2001 Start.
I have a 2002 I bought last year, and I'm constantly on the lookout for a 2001 Start in really good shape.
Hope this helps,

24th June 2009, 01:57 AM
Thanks, Roger. I look forward to your wisdom.

Also: what booms do you like with the new big Retros? I'm replacing my 10.5M Retro with an 11M Retro, and am thinking about getting a carbon boom at the same time. I can get a Chinook locally, or an HPL from Sailworks from reasonable prices. I'm seeing lots of reviews raving about the MauiSails booms; is that just hype?


24th June 2009, 04:11 PM

Out of curiosity, why are you so happy about Start, it's 230 liter board, for your 200 lbs (90kg) seems like an extremely huge beast?
I'm currently happily blasting on a 9.0 and 125l/69cm board, and starting to forget about my 148l/96cm F-type, since it planes just a bit earlier (honestly, with my probably poor technique it planes just as early as my 125l). The great plus for me it is a pleasure to slog on it comparing to F-type and also it feels like real surfing when going over the chop/small swell because it's no so wide.
I replaced the standard fin in 125 with a quality one and it's changed the world, very good upwind and no spinouts.


P.S. I've also changed my 9.8 3-cam freerace sail to 2-cam 9.0 and even though it's smaller it planes noticeably earlier (worse top-end and speed, but narrow sleeve=easy uphauling/waterstarts and much less weight).
Correct me if I'm wrong, but given your (and mine also) weight and profile, sails larger than 9.0 doesn't give too much advantage in early planing (only in downwind and upwind performance). I don't really see how I could on plane with any sail in less wind than the gentle puffs that push me on plane on my 9.0. True, 11.0 would probably give me more stable plane and better upwind, but for me personally it's not worth it.

24th June 2009, 06:08 PM
The 2001 Start is an amazing board, and I regret a lot that I sold mine last summer. It glides on to a plane very smooth, handles chop fine and even handles medium wind as a much smaller board. I’ve even managed to get safely home in a storm +40 kts on this board.
Last year I changed the 2001 Start, to a 166 GO for family fun, and I’m sorry to say I would gladly change it back. There is something with the whole concept of the 2001, and with a decent fin (I used a Curtis Freeride 44) it’s just a smooth ride for both beginners and advanced sailors. 2001 was a very good year for SB and I’m never getting rid of my 175 Formula.
But for medium wind blasting – Futura 122 is still the king

- espen

24th June 2009, 11:30 PM
Yes, I'm with Espen on the 2001 Start. It's just a great board for sailing in light wind. Once the wind gets close to 20 knots I find the Start a bit awkward -- 40 knots is just scary to think about! -- but with 7 meter to 11 meter sails, it's my favorite board.

Espen: how do you compare your Formula 175 to the Start? Perhaps I should try to find a used board in that range ...


25th June 2009, 03:28 AM
The 2001 Start was my first "real" board. I was a founding member of the Start-a-holics, back in about 2002, and the Start, with lots of Rogers help, took me to a level where I was blasting in the back straps with an 8.7m Nitro and 65cm fin.

Yes there was something about that board. Every year after that it got more and more rounded in the tail and heavier and heavier.....maybe it's time SB offered it as an anniversary model.

25th June 2009, 06:09 AM
As Rod mentions it has a lot to do with the tail of the board. The Start 2001 has sharper edges than the “modern” boards and a wider/different tail. Not the greatest jiber, but who does a lot of planning jibes in light winds :-)

The 2001 formula 175 is a lot lighter (8.6 kg), different rocker and a lot faster to get planning. It also handles more wind with the thinner shape. It needs a little more attention than the start, and more fin pressure. But the extra 30-40 cm in length compared to the “modern” formula boards helps a lot. With moderate skills and a large rig it is easy to drown the nose when you “try” to get going after uphaling, that never happens on a 2001. I use this in light winds with a 9.0 NCX, it’s a easy, smooth and fun light wind cruiser. Upwind handling is amazing, no need for a daggerboard.

- espen

25th June 2009, 07:33 AM
Hi again Johntr,
Been thinking about your situation quite a bit in the past few days.
If it's fixable, you might just want to hang on to your 2001 Start.
For about half the cost of a new board you might be able to find a really
good repair shop that can restore your '01 to close to new condition.
Only board I see that's even close would be the '09 iSonic 150:
150 liters
228 cm long
93.5 cm wide
65.1 cm 1 foot off
8.50 Kg.
I think for your purposes the iSonic would be better than a formula board, and definitely
better than a Formula Experience (ASA skin, pretty heavy, not great durability).
You could probably get used to a formula board, but you are correct, they are pretty much set up for really huge sails ( 9.5m2 is probably a minimum) and max. upwind/downwind.
You can change fins (something in the 58-65 cm range) and make a formula board a little more like a freeride, but they do what they were designed to do so well it's difrficult to "de tune" them for free ride type sailing.
The iSonic 150 however is probably as fast if not faster, planes almost as early, but isn't
as difficult to sail on beam reaches as a formula.
So, there's probably not a real good solution here.
Another "classic" (if you can find one if good condition would be the 2004 Free Formula 138 or 158.
I rue the day I gave up my FF 138 to Ellen as she fairly "rips" on it up at Ninigret Pond.
If you are heavier than 190 lbs., the '04 FF 158 might be the ticket.
Sorry I don't have a better answer for you, but I'll vote with everyone else.
If they would only build a lightweight 2001 Start Special Edition, I think they would sell a bunch of them. A very special board indeed.

30th June 2009, 03:55 AM
Thanks, Roger. I really appreciate your frank answer, as always. (And: here's hoping the Starboard designers are listening to you!)

I've had my Start repaired a few times, and it's still in good condition. Maybe I'll just hold onto it for this year, and get a Gemini so I can get more TOW with my wife :).

Nice to hear from Rod and Espen again, a couple of the other members of the Start-a-holics :).


30th June 2009, 08:44 AM
Hi John,
Hmmmm... a Gemini with your wife......that could prove very interesting indeed.
The Geminis are really a laugh riot, but they do seem to involve some minor whacks
on the head and shoulders until you really get thing coordinated.
Have fun!

30th June 2009, 11:09 PM
From Roger - "You could probably get used to a formula board, but you are correct, they are pretty much set up for really huge sails ( 9.5m2 is probably a minimum) and max. upwind/downwind."

I would disagree with Roger since I have a lot of experience racing formula on pretty small sails. I have an F160 and in at least 5 regattas, I have used a 6.5 or 6.6 race sail in winds approaching 30 knots. I have also used my 7.6 and 8.4 in strong winds.

I only weigh 79kg and find that fully powerd small sails perform and handle just as well as the larger sails which I use in lighter winds (9.2 & 11.0). In fact, when I am on my 6.6, I am able to point higher than the other racers on larger sails. I do give up some speed on the downwind, but I have my limits and the downwind is where it gets hairy for me.

However, I would not go out on my formula board to free sail in winds over 20 knots, instead I would be on a slalom or bump and jump board. If I was a really serious formula racer, I should be out in 20+ knots practicing on the board, but that's not what I choose to do, it's just more fun to be on smaller board in the stronger winds.

For what it's worth..........

1st July 2009, 04:10 AM

Is your Formula board fun for just zooming around on lighter wind days? What's it like to blast around trying to go fast across the wind, playing with gybes, &c?


1st July 2009, 04:13 AM

Oh oh. My wife would *not* be very happy with whacks to the head and shoulders. Thanks for the warning.

Sigh. I do want to find a way to give Starboard some more of my money this year, but they just don't seem to have the right option! From all the discussion it sounds like they just need to make a new board:

- 100 cm
- EVA deck
- Go-like construction for durability and reasonable weight
- longer, for easier control
- nice new features like the cutouts, for faster sailing

How hard can that be? I bet their designers can make a great board like that in their sleep :).


1st July 2009, 06:01 AM
Hi John,
I agree pretty much with what Ken says, having sailed formula boards and formula like boards (Free formula and F-Type as well as the early Starts) with smaller sails.
Ken (I've sailed with Ken in Dallas a couple of times) has slalom boards as well, and uses the smaller sails on his Isonic etc. but downsizes on his formula board for high wind racing on the formula.
I'm fairly sure this is not what you are looking for in a replacement for your '01 Start with 9.0 m2 and larger rigs in light arir Mid America conditions.

As far as whacking your partner on the Gemini, if you are quite careful, right at first, you will have a great time.
It just takes a few runs to get your jibes coordinated as the front rig needs to go around first, and then the rear, but if the front takes too long, the larger rig in the back really tends to load up clew first and at some point the larger sailor on the larger rig just has to either drop the rig or sweep the boom end over the front sailor's head.
As I said, sailing the Gemini is a laugh riot and is about the max. fun two people can have windsurfing.
Most first time sailors come back laughing so hard they can hardly sail.
As far as a new board (an upgrade from your '01 Start) I'll let them know, but I have no idea whether or not they will listen.
Hope this helps,

1st July 2009, 06:14 AM
It's a shame people can't order from a back catalogue or something similar. Besides the '01 Start, the other board I had with hidden performance was the '05 Starsurfer M....that board could really fly.

Roger, I owned 01, 02, early 03 [without starbox fin], and late 03 [with starbox fin] Starts but never went beyond 03. What do you think was the model with the most "performance mode" capabilities? Do the later Starts have any "hidden performance"?

I always thought the early 03 model was a pretty good all round board.

1st July 2009, 09:09 AM
Hi Rod,
I felt that the '01 Start had the most performance potential, that's why I'm still looking
to find a nice one.
And, yes, it would certainly be wonderful if we could order older boards that we liked.
Unfortunately, once the year model is over, they break up the molds, so there's no way to duplicate them.
Nice to hear from you,

1st July 2009, 10:45 PM

Regarding free sailing, yes, I use my formula board when I can't get powered on my iSonic 111 with an 8.4 (about 12-13 knots minimum). I really perfer using my 7.6 on the 111 in 15 to 20 knots.

I am usually on my formula board when the wind is 8 to 15 knots (11.0 or 9.2). I enjoy chasing keel boats and cats when I have enough power to sail circles around them, or just blasting past the guys slogging or barely planing on smaller boards & sails.

The down side of formula boards is that they will get damaged while learning, usually by getting pulled over the front in a gust of wind, and especially while learning to run deep down wind. The mast falls on the nose of the board, creasing or breaking the skin. My first two formula boards (175 & 147) both had several dents in the nose, but so far, my 160 has survived for over two years without damage. As your skills improve, you get tossed over the front less often.

For beginners & intermediates, the outboard foot strap position on formula boards make them a bit of a challenge to get into, especially the back straps. Unlike freeride boards, you don't have the option of "an inboard location" for learning.

2nd July 2009, 03:03 AM
Thanks, Ken. I'm thinking of the board for me. I'll keep my 2003 Start for teaching. (I don't get tossed much any more, and I'm used to the outboard straps. In fact, the inboard straps on my Carve feel weird after so long on the wide boards.)