View Full Version : Which tack is your fastest?

19th June 2010, 03:06 AM
For all the time I've been windsurfing I've always been a few knots faster while sailing on port tack. I'm right handed so on port tack my strongest leg and arm could take action where it's needed: on the aft part on the boom and in the rear strap.

Quite interestingly it seems to change now. The last year I've had all my fastest runs on starboard tack. Strangely enough in a quite upright position!!!

Did equipment change so much, that the traditional low weight lots of muscle power isn't the right way any longer (I got myself an iSonic 122 last year)???

I've noticed that lots of speed champs break their records on starboard tack...


19th June 2010, 11:45 AM
Hi Per,

It think it has a lot to do with where the wind is coming from. If you have a cross-onshore, as is common here in hong kong, with the wind coming in from about 10:30-11:00 when looking at the water, naturally reaching towards the beach is faster than reaching away as the board hits chop less frequently due to the way the waves are moving.

In addition, far out in the bay there's some ocean swell, and if you're already blasting at say 25knts, riding down one of these while coming towards the bay can add 1-2knots in your speed. This doesn't happen when riding out away from the beach as you're working against swell.

I feel much more comfortable going upwind out to sea, so that is usually port tack, and I have lots of trouble keeping upwind on starboard. I think that is due to the waves/current. On the GPS tracks, my upwind angle (and this is usually none planing, due to the wind in HK being mainly gusts then 5 min lulls) is about 30degrees worse on starboard tack.

Also, I usually feel my obliques working super hard when going upwind on starboard. Upwind on port feels so much more comfortable, plus I can get some good jumps on port.

Just got my RAM fixed so it'll be interesting to see how much faster I can go with that over the current sail I've been using.

19th June 2010, 03:51 PM
Faster not sure, but I usually feel better on port. Notably finding the rear strap with my right foot is automatic while the other requires some attention, at least in chops. I have nearly the same position on both sides but always feel better balanced on port. Another reason may be that I see much better with the left eye. Strangely I have no problem going upwind on starboard, which is most often the case on my spot.

19th June 2010, 05:25 PM
Yes, this is interesting indeed.
Can't resist on commenting this one as well :)

Going upwind, downwind, off-shore, on-shore, hitting more chop, hitting less chop will all have its influence. That's for sure.

But let's assume for a moment that we can do both tacks (port & starboard) in exactly the same conditons, e.g. perfect off-shore wind with mirror flat water.
In this conditions, I know that I personally will always prefer a port tack which will always result for me in the highest and most comfortable speed. It's just a personal preference.

I compare it with e.g. long jumping or volleybal smashing. Although I'm right-handed the last foot to take off will be my left one.
I still remember the first time when I went snowboarding, they asked "do you want your left foot first or your right foot first". While many other snowboard beginners didn't know what to answer, I answered firmly "my left foot first". I knew this from windsurfing.

So I think it all comes down to personal preference. It's different for everyone and has not strictly to do with the fact if you're left-handed or right-handed. It's more like a habit. And yes it could change during the years, according to me.

19th June 2010, 05:45 PM
I can only get planing jibes on starboard so in ideal conditions I'd say I'm more comfortable on that side, though I tack and jump better on port...

20th June 2010, 01:28 PM
My planing jibes are for sure more safe if I initiate them from port tack. And as I mentioned everything was faster and safer on this tack until recently, where i kicked the 30 knot barrier on my iSonic on starboard tack (in harsh chop far from flat and ideal conditions - the iSonic is a beauty :-). Maybe it could have something to do with the local conditions as some of you mentioned.

Are we actually right handed or left handed windsurfers???


20th June 2010, 03:30 PM

What iSonic did you hit 30knts with? That's my target with my Futura 93l. Now that my RAM 5.8m is fixed, in good conditions I should be able to get it. Max so far is 25knts, though that was on a completely destroyed 6.0 camberless, and partly panel and battenless, sail.

21st June 2010, 04:05 AM
I asked this (serious) question of Peter Hart about 15 years ago.
Most of his reply made sense but then he got into the effect of one testicle being bigger than the other........
And as any (old) water skiers will know.......the LePoint brothers often said "you have a good side and a better side".
They were world champions into their 40's.

22nd June 2010, 12:37 AM
Hi Agrelon and others..

The testicle theory is true. I knew a girl once who..... okay back to the subject ;-)

I hit 30.9 knots on my iSonic 122 in chop and gusts around 25 knots.
The sail was - hold on- a 5.75 five batten no cam wave sail (Tushingham Storm - excellent toy). I used the 40 cm Drake fin.
This type and size of sail is considered hopeless for the iSonic 122, but I hit my best speed ever on the board with it. My old S-type 115 was a knot faster though with the same sail.
I have a Tushingham Lightning twincam race sail which is very quick too, but I haven't hit 30 knots with this yet.

In ideal flat water conditions with constant heavy winds the board can be even faster.
Anyway 30 knots is a lot of speed. It feels a lot faster than 25 knots. Especially in harsh chop.

The iSonics are extremely capable boards. But the Futuras should all be able to do +30 knots too.

25th June 2010, 06:58 PM
a zillion years ago in another era I went stupidly fast in 3 ft sea swell on a broad reach on .. get this:

f2 starlit with a 26 cm reverse profile fin
gaastra powerspeed 5.0 on a pryde wave c25 mast...

my buddy that I was sailing with was on a fanatic ultra rat with art slalom blades (5.2?) and I was beating him...

26th June 2010, 01:51 AM
It's funny to do something crazy outside the norm. I don't think that modern boards have soo much more top speed than the needles from the past. Anyway, the average speed, control and overall handling has for sure come up..


11th July 2010, 01:17 PM
I would guess that most people's fastest tack is starboard. (No pun/endorsement intended). Reading here it seems that's not true. The majority of people are right handed, and port is given a "handicap" in the racin' rules of sailing. Is there a correlation between the dominant hand and a sailor's dominant tack? Brain hemispheres?

12th July 2010, 12:21 AM
it would be cool, but it all depends

12th July 2010, 04:29 PM
Can't be so simple, or there are exceptions. Although right handed, at school I was always jumping from the "left handed" side. And port is my favourite tack. Left handed tennismen or fencers seem to have an advantage. Is it the same for windsurfers?

12th July 2010, 05:53 PM
Ok guys do the test.

Are you a right brain thinker or a left brain thinker ?

Remember that the right brain controls the left part of the body. So if you see the danser turn clockwise, you're a right brain thinker, which means that you probaby will prefer port tack.

It's as easy as that. No exceptions. Haha :)

12th July 2010, 06:56 PM
Sorry Belskorpio but I see her turning clockwise, then counterclockwise, then clockwise again. It keeps changing all the time. With a bit of concentration I see also the image in full colors with some astounding details, hé hé...

12th July 2010, 09:14 PM
For me, tacks are just the same for both directions, but jibing is a different story. Port jibe is my favored (right hand in front at the start). Starboard jibe has always been a bit less comfortable than port.

I have no brain so it must be something else.

13th July 2010, 01:07 AM
Hi Farlo,

Sounds to me like you're brain is thinking pretty much the same like all men are thinking if they see a silhouette turning like that. LOL :)

13th July 2010, 02:35 PM
Well, presumably I'm more of a right brain thinker (therefore fantasy ruled) but I don't understand why one should prefer port tack because of this. By the way I also prefer port jibe, which sounds a bit illogical. May be the push and drive of right foot?

13th July 2010, 06:01 PM
Well, can't get enough of it,

I remember another test from an old gym teacher. We went with whole class swimming and he lined us up at the edge of the swimming pool, all next to each other and facing the water. Then he came behind us and pushed us one by one into the swimming pool.
He noted down with which foot we landed first into the water.
For more than 90% of the persons this corresponded with the preferred foot to take off for e.g. the long jump. Again, it's independant from the fact wether you're left-handed or right-handed.

It's a brain thing. It reacts in a split second and gives preference to a certain legg/foot.
It's that same foot that you prefer to have in front on a snowboard or surfboard.
For me it's my left foot, which means port tack.

15th July 2010, 10:52 PM
It's actually less mystical and much more practical. The fastest sails are very sensitive to batten tension, and most sailmakers apply battens the starboard side of the sail. While much effort has been made to equalize the effect of batten tension between the port and starboard tacks, such as the modern batten tensioners seen on Gaastra and Maui Sails or alternating the side on which each subsequent batten sits.

Given the above and the need for very high skin tension, sails tend to represent the intended shaping when on starboard tack. This makes then more stable and probably faster on starboard than port, at least when all other things are equal.

16th July 2010, 01:57 AM
That's all very well, but a snowboard has no sail and I still prefer port tack anyway. :)

16th July 2010, 11:44 AM
Like I said, " . . . when all other things are equal."

22nd July 2010, 09:38 PM
Hi Dan, I can imagine that the leeward side of a sail has to be as smooth as possible. Also if battens are on starboard there will be more tension in the sail on starboard tack. However there are various opinions about how batten tension affects sail performance. Some will say just take wrinkles off, as most of the shape is given by downhaul and mast curve/stiffness.