View Full Version : High winds novice: what board / sail ?

6th January 2010, 08:50 AM
Hi everybody,

I would like to ask for your opinion and for your advice concerning my latest high winds experience.

I should say I'm not really used to high winds, as I mostly windsurf with sails from 8.0 to 5.3 with average 20-22 knots maximum.

Last January 2, I was in Hyeres-La Mandrague (France) and the wind was 30 knots on-shore mistral with moderate shore break. There was also a weed area near the beach.
I'm a heavyweight (93 kg) and my equipment was the following:
board: Jp x-cite ride 120 lt (2007).
sail: Neil Pryde Core 4.7 (1999) with Pride 400 wave mast (SDM carbon 45%).

My concern is that I couldn't really sail.
I waterstarted several times (with water level to my shoulders).
But as I tried to go upwind, I had balance problems due to the shore break: the board seemed not to start and I also felt like the sail hadn't enough power for my weight (I falled off windward a few times).

Do you think I should look for a 100 liter freestyle-wave board first (could the Kode be right ?), or I shoud better look for a more powerful wave sail - like a Neil Pride Alpha ?

Thank you so much in advance !

Enrico, Milano-Italy

6th January 2010, 04:14 PM
Salve Enrico,
Most likely 120 Liters would have been too much in 30 Knts. A 105 L board (not much smaller) would better suit your weight in such conditions. Adversely 4.7 m² may be a bit small. Mistral can be quite irregular with lulls at 20 Knts. In this case the 5.3 may be an option. However you may have other problems with too big a sail. Basically the board gets stuck upwind when you sheet in, and you fall off. This happens also when there is too much outhaul. Your sail is completely flat/instable and you don't start. Additionaly the fin shall be consistent with sail size (but I guess it was more than big enough). Ciao

6th January 2010, 08:07 PM
Hi Farlo,

my fin was a 30 cm Tribord freeride (from Decathlon).

Your reply seems to confirm to me that the first problem was given by the sail.

My personal opinion is that the 120 lt. board could'nt be considered the main problem in a starting non-planing phase (you can keep it easily down). . on the contrary it should help with the shore break . .

Do you agree ?

Thank you, Enrico

6th January 2010, 09:26 PM
Hi Enrico, 30 cm is OK for 4.7 m² but may be a bit small with 5.3 at your weight and you may consider 32/33. Anyway both are very small fins for your JP. Most probably the main problem was caused by the sail, but once powered up you may discover that 120 L are quite cumbersome. Wide boards are stable in flat water but in the shore break they waddle here and there and do not help. If you have enough power in the sail you will enjoy a smaller board.

6th January 2010, 10:30 PM
120 litre board in a genuine 30 knots....wow!

7th January 2010, 12:21 AM
120 litres ;30knots and 90k + are not that out of ordinary

7th January 2010, 02:55 AM
Hi "unregistered",

I have been windsurfing a couple of years ago at the "presqu'ile de giens" nearby l'Almanarre & Hyeres, with 35+ wind coming from the east (vent d'est, no Mistral) also on-shore. I'm 87kg and needed a wave board of +/- 86L and a sail of +/- 3.7m2 and a small wave fin of max 25cm. All other equipment was too big to handle that day.
I still remember that I also had problems with the nasty shore break (continuous series with little spacing in between) that kept on sweeping me back onto the beach. Then there came a guy to me, who saw that I was struggling, and told me to swim a couple of meters with my equipment just behind the shore break and waterstart over there. From then on, it went super. With strong on-shore wind and a nasty shore break, you need a little space (especially with small wave sails) to go a little bit down-wind into planing and then point again towards the wind. I've seen experienced wave windsurfers struggling that day as well and doing exactly the same thing.

Hope this helps.

Hot Ice
7th January 2010, 04:28 AM
Many people buy dirt cheap high wind sails to save money and the fact they will not use them often. That is a mistake and will ruin a high wind days sailing.

The Neil Pryde Core is a very old sail that was Josh Stone’s signature sail. It had four battens and was designed specifically for light weight freestyle sailors and light weight wave sailors. It is totally unsuitable for a heavy weight on a 120 litre board in bump and jump conditions.

The board and fin is fine for now.

Buy an Alpha 5.4 as soon as possible if you want to sail well in 30 knot winds. The difference will be unbelievable. :)

7th January 2010, 05:08 PM
Vent d'est at l'Almanarre is generally steadier. Mistral can be very strong but with large lulls and all of a sudden you have like nothing in your sail. Not a big issue if you're up and planing but quite annoying when you're struggling in the shore break. Swimming away is a good trick but then you need enough drive to start otherwise you're rolled back to the beach (I'm sure many of us made this horrible experience). So the first thing is to be well powered. Certainly 4,7 m² or less would be OK in a steady 30 Knts but Enrico's description suggests that the sail wasn't big enough, or too flat.

7th January 2010, 06:13 PM
Well, with 30 knots (7 Bft), I wouldn't like to be with a 5.4m2 sail in on-shore conditions, with waves coming up to you ready to launch you several meters high. Off-shore, yes of course, that's a whole different thing.
I also heard that vent d'est is more stable than Mistral, so perhaps I can't really compare with the conditions I had over there. Anyway, I also felt from time to time underpowered with a 3.7m2 to get into planing (you always have big lulls in these kind of high wind days), but once planing it was no problem at all. Only difficult to go through to the shore break, but like I told, swimming far enough behind the shore break did the trick. I would not advise unexperienced windsurfers to use too big sails in heavy on-shore conditions. Enrico is of course heavier than me, so 4.5m2 would be about right. Just my opinion.

7th January 2010, 06:24 PM
This being said, I remember Eric Thiémé (top French windsurfer) doing loops with 4 sqm on a similar day, while everybody else was (not always planing) with 5. Eric is lighter of course and he lives there, but the only explanation I could find was... talent.

7th January 2010, 10:59 PM
Hi Farlo,

That's exactly it. I found - through the 20 years that I'm windsurfing now - that I could manage to plane each time with smaller sails, the better I got. It doesn't mean that I don't like bigger sails. I also like to slalom with 5-6 m2 sails in 30 kots, but on FLAT water (typically lakes, or off-shore sea conditions). I find that in "heavy" wave on-shore conditions, you need a lot of control and this will be hard to achieve with too large sails and to large boards. In these "heavy" conditions, the technique to get planing with smaller sails gets more and more important. Once planing, you will feel much more comfortable, because you will need to be prepared for each wave, either to avoid it or to control the jump and flight in the air.

7th January 2010, 11:10 PM
Hi everybody,

there are two new details:

1) While waterstarting, I noticed that the sail had much power to pull me up on the board fastly, so I thought that it was not just matter of sail.

2) I asked the same question to "a leading sails manufacturer" and just got the following reply:

"Hi Enrico,
I think it doesn't have much to do with the sail not having enough power. When using a board that is a little too big for the sail then the board will not want to go upwind as well as it will seem that the power is not getting to the fin, making the power in the sail not being transferred and for this reason you are not feeling it.
I think that even the 100 Liter board might a little too big for this sail, specially as the core has a little short of a boom and the power in the frond of the sail. If you where to go for an Alpha then the center of effort would be a little further back meaning more power would be transferred to the fin and you would be able to get upwind on a little bigger board then you could on the Core."

As far as it seems, I should FIRST buy a smaller board (100 lt.) an THEN upgrade my 4.7 to a power wave sail (as the Alpha).

Do you agree ?

Thank you, regards


7th January 2010, 11:56 PM
Hi Enrico, yes a smaller board will complement your JP120 ideally. Given your weight I would not recommend smaller than 100 L so that you can start using it in some 20 Knts. Then you have to select the best sail for the day. I agree that 4.7 sounds a bit small with 100 L, and certainly too small with 120. Design and tuning play their role as well. Some sails seem to pull like tractors - so the easy waterstart - but have very poor lift and do not work well upwind. This can be fixed by proper rigging to some extend. Check the program of the Core before considering to change. At l'Almanarre you can also start from the right side and gain some angle. I wish you a windy 2010.

Hot Ice
8th January 2010, 12:34 AM
Hi Enrico,

The 4.7m Core sail is only four battens and designed for light weight freestyle and light wave sailors. Therefore it does not have the drive, stability or power for a heavy weight sailor. You will feel every gust in this sail and be constantly off and on the plane. Also note that JP recommend the smallest sail for your 120 board is 5.2m and there are many good reasons for that.

Even if you do get a smaller board the 4.7 Core sail for your weight will still be totally unsuitable. The design of the sail is as critical as the size.

If you are really serious about sailing well in those conditions on a regular basis then keep the 120 board and buy a Kode 94 matched with a new 5.0 Alpha.

Good luck whatever you decide. :)

8th January 2010, 03:08 AM
Hi Enrico, the Kode 94 is a good choice I think.
But before buying another sail, practice with this new board and your 4.7 Core sail at 30+ knots in more flat water conditions (side-shore to off-shore on the sea or preferably on a lake) to get it planing. You've got to realize that this board is a full sinker under your weight and depending on your experience with sinkers it will be even more difficult and technical to get it planing in the beginning. Afterwards you still can decide about another sail. On-shore heavy wind 30+ conditions on the sea are the most difficult & technical conditions for windsurfing. It needs a lot of practice. Take a look at real heavy on-shore conditions in Sylt/Germany last year and enjoy. :)

9th January 2010, 03:15 AM
Hi everybody again,

you won't believe that, on the subject, I got another point of view from my windsurfing equipment dealer in Rimini (I must admit that he's quite always right..) .

According to him, the JP volume is actually less than 120 liters, so that board can stand the 30 knots under my heavy weight. The problem is that the Core is a kind of "soft" sail (designed on the Pryde "Wavepro" flexible mast - the one with red graphics) - and it doesn't work well with the hard (as it was not "tapered") Pride wave carbon 45% (model year 2000). That's why he suggests to rig it on a new Pride X6 RDM 400 "and you'll see it how it works . ."

What can I say ? Perhaps the above solution is the safer one: if the rig doesn't work ..I will give the mast back !!

I thank you all very much for your support ! I wish you a windy 2010 !

Ciao, Enrico