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Marko 23rd October 2007 04:39 AM

For Ian Fox: is96 vs s100?
Hi Ian!

I would like to ask you what are differences between classic sonic 100 and its newest incarnation is96?

I am mainly interested in low end performance comparison (medium powered 7.6 conditions) for figure of 8 slalom racing? My weight is 75-80kg.

I am using is101 this season but I am considering changing it for a something more similar to sonic100, which is my all time favorite slalom board. Don't get me wrong, I like is101 very much, but I miss the "fun factor" of sonic100.

I find is101 easier to control in extreme conditions, so I suppose that is96 is also better in severe chop and high winds, but what about light wind characteristics?

I compete in slalom, mostly figure of 8, and we stop racing if the wind falls below 13 knots. I find 7.6 and 6.6 the perfect sizes for 99% of races. Sonic 100 was just great board for that range and my weight, do you think that is96 will be even better?

Is is96 more similar in ride to is101 or s100?

Does is96 also feature a dual flat bottom concept?


Ian Fox 24th October 2007 04:05 PM

Hi Marko,

Considering your love for the older S100 (a pretty classic number) you'll find the iS96 very much in a similar performance "window". Any actual volume differnce in nett terms is hardly comparable, because the S100 carried a lot (maybe a little much) volume in a fairly thick front nose section, which (in almost all sailing conditions did nothing special), and the slimmer iS96 carries it's full 96 (actual) Lts compliment with a far less "nose heavy" distribution, meaning that all the volume in the 96 is really working where you want it, and none where you don't.

Although the overall width and outline are much more similar between S100 and iS96 than the S100 and iS101, the iS96 still offers some advantage (over S100) in the lighter or gusty end of the board wind range based on the wider tail area and stance. You'll understand that aspect already from the iS101, just scale it down a bit for iS96, but keep it above S100 and you'll be spot on. In comparison, for an experienced slalom guy the iS96 shouldn't be seen to have any less bottom end than the S100.

While the S100 had a pretty sweet drawn out carve style around the bends, the iS tends to improve on "carry" (or glide) thru the lulls, holes and turns, can handle more power going in/thru/out the bends.

Rails on the iS96 are not quite so sharp (in both shape and ride) and that cuts both ways, general average seems to favor the easier speed of the iS over the S100, although "old school" slalom fanatics (pun!) are less fazed by the slightly more demanding trim over/thru chop of the harder railed designs- and some die hards really like the hard engaged feel of the older rails, even if the speed is no better (or potentially more difficult in challenging conditions).

iS96 does not feature Dual flat bottom concept; that is again not always a downside, as to work really well DFC has to be really well dialled (in both design and on water trim). Again for guys who are already "acclimatized" to older flat rocker shapes such as the S100, well the iS96 definitely carries forward that style of ride (with new ease). By comparison, DFC trim really requires the board (rider) to be rockered well back onto the tail block of the board (not as in S100) to ge tthe most. That itself is not that demanding, just different, and I guess in summary, S100 certainly wasn't DFC (shape nor ride style) either !

Hope that helps a better comparison of the options !

Cheers ~ Ian

Marko 25th October 2007 07:27 PM

Thanks Ian! Great answers!

Just a couple more questions...

Are you sure that nose volume in sonic 100 didn't do anything special? One thing that I do not like with is101 is pumping it up in light winds (7.6m2) and in choppy water. I find it hard to kick nose out of the water at my weight (80kg) with is101, when the board is submerged. I remember that it was not a problem with sonic 100. Nose was never submerged and I found it much less sticky to pump it up, probably because it is also a lot narrower in the nose and it really cuts thru the water easily.
On the other hand, I tested is111 in those conditions and I found it MUCH better for pumping. But with is111, I could stand on the board without submerging it.

I know this is not a big problem, but I find it very impractical in the light races, when you are somewhere in the crowded space and you make a bad gybe and loose speed (stop planning). I had quite a bit of problem with is101 in this situation, but never on my s100.

To make the long story short...Is is96 easier to pump it onto a plane in light winds (med 7.6m2 conditions) than is101? Sonic100 was easier for me...

One more question... Should I use bigger fins with is96 than with s100? SL2 36 was enough for me in light wind with s100, do I need 38 for is96 (wider tail)?


steveC 26th October 2007 12:50 AM

Marko's comments here bring up an interesting issue that remains a bit hidden in the representations of current products. Even though online product specifications and representations include lots of valuable information, they don't really don't present or characterize volume distribution in each of the boards. I think that including a side view would be a great addition to the 2D representations. Seeing the top, bottom and the side view would allow folks to better understand the boards more three dimensionally and better depict volume distribution throughout the design.

Marko 26th October 2007 03:30 AM

Steve, I am afraid that 3D pics and sideviews would not help much to understand how the board really behaves.

I remember that I had my new is101 in my hands and I was thinking...This board will be hard to control and hard to gybe....
After few days on the water, I realised I was completely wrong and board is super easy to control and gybes great!

But it would be nice if we could get some more info in boards overview so that we do not have to bother Ian and the rest of the team with our questions.

steveC 26th October 2007 05:20 AM

Hi Marko,

I understand what you're saying about understanding how a sideview of a design might not help you grasp how a board behaves, but it would definitely better represent how volume is distributed in a particular model line across the various sizes offered, and it would suggest a lot more about the rockerline characteristics. Much can be discerned through subtle visual clues, and that would be significantly more than what's being related now (3 views instead of 2). Also, I think the 2D depicition is much more realistic for Starboard than the 3D approach, because one can't see the 3D view across the model line now (probably more expensive to do overall).

Ian Fox 26th October 2007 02:00 PM

Hi Marko,

If we disregard aero arguments (applicable only really at very high speeds) then the only use of the extra volume in the front of the 100 would be in extreme sub planing and uphauling.. ( not really "real" slalom race issues I think you will agree ;)

At any sort of normal stance and minimal fwd speed, the upper side of the S100 nose area is well clear of the water and not acting in any functional way (OK, generalisation, but you get the idea). Simple test for that is to thin that section out (thickness) wise and go test.

With iS101, there is a much lower nose scoop/rocker, and combined with the extra volume (and width) distribution at the back of the board (driving/keeping the iS101 tail more "up" at any sort of fwd speed c/w narrower , thinner S100 tail), this all gives the iS a flatter (less nose raised) angle on the water( even in sub planing) and can appear as you described. Taking a slightly more aggressive, rearward stance on the iS101 can compensate for some of that.

More subtly, but importantly the real difference is more likely in the rails (as mentioned in my above post), where sharp(er), boxy rails on the S100 have given way on iS to a (slightly) softer, more tucked profile (which improves top end control/rideability/confidence etc). In isolation, that could be considered to be a potential for reduced "marginal" performance and/or early planing ability.... Especially by riders who had evolved good rail "edgeing" technique on older, narrow, sharp railed slaloms to get going (earlier) in marginal/sub planing conditions (might sound odd to those who don't, but it's real, they exist and yes it's an art). However (the big BUT...) when considered as part of an overall package, adding (back) in a wider tail (increased planing surface area) and increased ability to handle bigger fin area (in marginal conditions) , any "loss" due to softer rails can pretty much be negated - and an overall better package achieved (by most measures !!?? - especially overall range, not only of the board itself, but a board that is more tolerant of sail size range, that's to say can more adequately handle overpower situations for example).

Again, to get the most from this new style really does require a few minor style/technique (and even tuning) adjustments - and I agree the initial "feel" might leave hard rail addicts a bit underwhelmed in marginal conditions. Pretty quickly offset when viewed in overall context !

Does the iS96 plane earlier than S100 ??? Marginal and decided on technique. A more powerful, rear (and fin) focussed technique will show less disadvantage to the iS96, whilst a smoother slide forward, rail edgeing plane up technique may favor S100.

We're pretty strong advocates of providing as much information as possible, and YES, Steve, I agree in general more images 3D animations etc all look good and can help, but for sure the subtle detail variances that really relate to this issue (and similar) would not be so easily portrayed or observed in even the best 3D animation. And even if fully visible, "interpreting" these into comparative performance/behaviour is an even further descriptive challenge (yes, happy to stop writing anytime :) )

Cheers ~ Ian

geo 26th October 2007 03:17 PM

This is really an accurate and honest description of how shape details influence performances, and about one of the biggest curiosities of mine!
I am reasoning on Ian's contribution not comparing S100 to iS94/96, but rather thinking about performances differences between older narrow boards such as RRD 281 and 278, and more modern "wider" shapes as my S95. Now I understand (hope so at least). On the S95 with 7.0 I use a 34 SL2 fin, while on my older boards with 6.9 it was much smaller 31 (Tectonics Spitfire design) or 32 (elliptical Deb) from RRD. I used to have a 33 too (Spitfire design) and it felt BIG and slowing down the board, even in marginal conditions! And in fact it was, as early planing was achieved by efficiency rather than power; sharp rails and small fin, rather than big sail and enough fin to push against. And it finally explains how the bigger feeling S95, with thick rails and wider beam and tail, feels much easier in high winds.
Only, I must observe one thing; and this relates to another thread about changes. It seems to me that in the end the wind range has been shifted, rather than just expanded. Older boards, once up and planing, were incredibly fast even in light winds, while my S95 is a dog when not fully powered. In higher winds, S95 range is after all similar to that of my older boards; by sure it feels much easier, but the RRDs felt more efficient and... do I dare to say... OK, better no.

So in the end (and not considering the extremely hard to sail, and rewarding, RRD281): both RRD278 (84 lts, 55 wide, 32.5 tail) and S95(100/94/96?) (around 95 lts, 58.5 wide, 38 and up tails) share about the same optimal sail range, 6.0 to 7.0; once planing, older boards were competitively fast against bigger stuff (I'd say faster) while for modern boards planing is not enough, they need full power (in marginal 7.0 winds, say 12-15 knots, I can plane my S95 but whoever on bigger slalom stuff is passing me, while I used to kill everybody on my older boards; things change once in the 15-18 and up range); modern wider boards can carry bigger sails and fins, but this does not seem to expand much the "top performance" envelope in light winds, just enhances accelleration and upwind a bit (and slows down top speed...); and modern boards can go out in overpowered conditions better than old ones; but nevertheless, outside of their optimal range, I don't see modern boards any competitive against "right sized" stuff. So what is achieved in the end? I'd say just the ability to face an extremely wide range of conditions; but competitive performances are achieved in the usual much smaller optimal wind range.

Just my sailing impressions, and some reasoning about ian's great post.

Marko 26th October 2007 06:40 PM

Ian, thanks once again for a very detailed and honest answer!

Geo, you have to look at the slalom boards from a little bit different perspective...
New slalom boards are made for BIG range because it is allowed to register only 2 boards per event.
Also, new slalom boards are made for BIG guys (because they are usually the fastest).

Big guys need a wide board that allows them to use BIG sail and carry them thru lulls and gybes. But they also need excellent top speed and easy control because they will use this board in very overpowered conditions.

I can see from all this above, and I can feel that every time I step on my is101, that it is a board for BIG rider. I think it is a ideal board for 90+ kg riders for overpowered 7.0/6.6 conditions in gusty winds and choppy water.
Is101 goes unbelieveable well thru chop and is very fast with bigger riders. I even used it once in severe conditions with 5.4 sail and it was MUCH easier to use than my old sonic 100 which was almost unmanageable in such chop.

I remember few years ago, Kevin Pritchard used to sail S100 with 7.6 sail in lighter winds and win races. I am 100% confident that he would choose 8.4/is122 in the same conditions nowdays, so yes, I agree that range of modern boards is shifted. But they still have much bigger range than older boards.

But I am afraid that ligher riders are forgotten in this new slalom program. Yes, new boards are very easy to handle also for light guys, but they are simply not fast enough. Lighter riders do not have problems going thru lulls and in gybes, their biggest enemy is drag. So they have to use narrow boards, smaller sails and smaller fins. If the new narrow boards (is96/86) have softer rails, I am afraid they will not be as competitive in light winds as older, hard railed designs.

For me, I am somewhere in between (80kg), and I think I was faster in light wind with sonic 100 but better overall in high winds and heavy chop with is101.
But still, I find s100 much more exciting and more enjoyable to ride!

I was hoping that I could replace is101 with is96 and get that sonic100 feeling and lightwind performance + great control of is101 in chop.

geo 27th October 2007 01:52 PM

But in the end we are saying the same thing... I guess you have to decide, either "that sonic100 feeling and lightwind performance" or "great control of is101 in chop". Efficiency vs. control.

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