View Full Version : Marginal planing question

16th August 2010, 10:55 PM
Hi Roger,

I've been assembling an early planing quiver to deal with the light wind summer conditions in my area. Presently, I have a Bic Techno Formula (94 cm wide) combined with a 70 cm fin and 11.0 Maui Sails Titan. I have been paying close attention to the measured wind speeds and after several outings have concluded that I need an honest 10 knots of wind to get planing at my weight of 185-190 pounds. As an advancing beginner, I am more of a passive sailor waiting for the board to begin planing rather than coaxing the board with any sail/fin pumping.

I love your analogy for shifting gears and closely follow this technique:

It's like shifting gears in your car.
1/ Start out in first gear i.e. sheet in and get the board moving across the wind on a beam reach
2/ Shift to second gear when your board has some speed and you can move back progressively (as the board gains more speed) without stalling the board.
3/ Shift to 3rd gear by hooking in and getting your front foot in the footstrap (keep your weight on the rig as mast foot pressure, do not put weight on your front foot. Weight on the front foot, that far off center, tells the board you want it to turn upwind... rapidly.
4/ Shift to 4th gear by sheeting in more, raking your rig back and trying to get your rear foot in the rear footstrap.
5/ Shift to 5th gear by moving your weight out away from the board to counterbalance the pull from the rig.

In 8-9 knots, I feel power in the sail but can't seem to get planing. Do you have any suggestions that might help me lower this threshold even further? I typically wait to shift into 3rd gear (harness and front footstrap) until there is enough power in the sail to carry 100% of my weight and the board is already moving fast. Should I be reaching for 3rd gear sooner along with some pumping technique to help propel the board into planning?


17th August 2010, 01:16 AM
While you wait for Roger to jump in, here is my take on your dilemma. You won't plane any earlier unless you are willing to pump. My estimate is that vigorous pumping will let you plane two knots earlier. Mild pumping, one knot.

Frankly, planing on your kit without pumping in 10 knots (white caps beginning to form) is pretty good. With a formula board and an 11.0 race sail at 168 lbs, I can plane without pumping at about 10 knots.

Normally, I pump up on plane, then maybe pump two or three times more to gain speed, hook in, get into the front strap, then the back strap, then sheet in. The quicker I can get weight on the back foot and pressure on the fin, the quicker I can accelerate even more (keeping the board flat and not sinking the windward rail).

If you lose speed while getting into the foot straps, you may have not had enough speed to begin with.

If I sail with my 11.0 in winds from 4-12 knots with an occasional gust to 15, I estimate that I will easily double my planing time with pumping compared to not pumping. The 4-12 knots would be a typical summer 10-15 mph wind forecast in my area.

I like the extra upper body workout that pumping provides (not fun, but good for my fitness), so I am willing to do what is necessary to get planing. The down side is pumping your brains out 6-8 times and still can't get on plane. This always causes a few foul words to pop out of my mouth. This doesn't happen too often since I can "read the water" pretty well. This usually happens when I pump in a gust and immediately hit a hole.

Hope this helps a bit.

17th August 2010, 01:17 AM
Hi John,
The "going through the gears" still applies, but in order to really "pump" both the sail and fin, you really
cannot be hooked in.
So, when you think you are fully into 2nd gear, and have moved back on the board progressively as the board speed increases, then try some big "give it all you've got" pumping of the rig. Unless you are really young and fit, you probably cannot put the level of effort required, into more than 3-5 pump cycles.
If that gets you going and pops your board up onto a plane, then go for the front footstrap, and get hooked in. Then pump the fin a bit with your back foot (not necessarily in the rear footstrap yet) to free the board up a little more and gain that little bit of speed required for the board to really "take off".
When you are sailing in marginal conditions, you have to head upwind very cautiously.
Go a little too high, and you get to start over.... yeah, the whole moving back, pumping, footstrap, hook in
gain speed process.
So, if you even think you feel the board start to slow down, immediately head off the wind a little and slightly unsheet your sail to give it max power.
Oversheeting will shut off the sails power faster than anything, at the same time reducing your boardspeed very quickly.
So, you can plane along very nicely, on a beam reach or a little higher, and maybe head up some more to take advantage of the acceleration of the apparent wind, but you must really be sensitive to lulls and having the wind get around in front of you.
Hope this helps,

17th August 2010, 03:07 AM
Thank you Ken and Roger. I'll give your suggestions a try and let you know how I make out.

Best Regards,