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MarcC 18th September 2008 08:45 PM

Learning FW - Smaller sail/fin for hi winds and chop
Hi All,

I'm thinking in to give a try to Formula, I am attracted by upwind/downwind sailing, laylines game and tactics, but of course also like to increase number of planing days. So my idea was to buy a 2nd hand FW board and rig, probably not bigger than 9.8 just to start with. I doubt I would end up racing seriously but probably join training of other FW guys if any fleet is nearby.

The point behind my question is that I would probably leave equipment in a club where only one board will be allowed.

Do you think that without no experience in the "BIG KIT" I could alternatively sail the FW board WITH A SMALLER SAIL (say 7.5m2) and a smaller fin in medium-high wind days (15kts + ) and considerable chop?
Of course, in those conditions and with this smaller kit I wouldn't expect performance nor good angles, just not shit pants and enjoy a little bit those days until I dare with real FW sizes.

I have sailed for several years shortboards in high winds but it scares me a little bit the idea of holding a 9 meter sail and suchbig volume boards in higher winds and what sounds worse, considerable chop or wind waves. I am 1'82m tall and around 80kg

Thank you in advance for any help on this.



sergio k 18th September 2008 11:46 PM

Hi Marc, depending on particular formula board, you can ride it with smaller fin/rig in comfort,
on older shapes I use to drop to 52cm+6.4m2 on really windy days for fun riding,
newer shapes like more power, so the smallest I use now is 56 cm (if I don't want to point)
and 7.6 m2 race sail (I think 8.3m2 would've being better). Newer race rigs and FW boards
have an amazing range and you can take it in open ocean conditions with some experience,
could be a bit scary in the begining but you will outgrow it. I'm light, so for a guy
your size in good physical shape, I wouldn't go lower than 8.5-9.0 m2 and 58-60cm fin,
and for your avg. day of sailing you want something in 11m2 range.

MarcC 19th September 2008 07:41 PM

Hi Sergio,

thank you very much for your answer. As I understand I will be able to learn FW and still enjoy (or increase scare factor) resorting to somewhat smaller sail/fin, but with the same single board. No need to start with free formula, isn't it?

By the way, you or anybody else could recommend any resources (web, book, video ...) to help in learning in Formula Windsurf?

Thanks a lot and best regards


Unregistered 19th September 2008 10:58 PM

Marc, thanks to the width of the FW board anyone can start with it as a beginner board
in light/moderate wind conditions just by choosing appropriate fin/sail size, I know plenty of people just jumped on it after learning basics. The only real issue is durability, since it's carbon and more frigile, but using nose guard could solve problem and being more carefull on land. Not sure about videos, riding board more on the outside so you can
counter-balance the large fin/sail is the main diff, plus when jibing step over center line, and it's a wide step :) Try to find people in your area that use FW, most windsurfers
are super friendly and eger to help with technique tip

Originally Posted by MarcC (Post 25630)
Hi Sergio,

thank you very much for your answer. As I understand I will be able to learn FW and still enjoy (or increase scare factor) resorting to somewhat smaller sail/fin, but with the same single board. No need to start with free formula, isn't it?

By the way, you or anybody else could recommend any resources (web, book, video ...) to help in learning in Formula Windsurf?

Thanks a lot and best regards


SeanAUS120 22nd September 2008 05:18 AM

Hi Marc,

If you want to sail your FW kit in a little more wind and choppier conditions, my tip would be to buy a more recent FW board - ie, something built after 2004. The really old (longer, more flatter shapes of <2004) are a lot more difficult to sail in bumpy conditions. Each year the boards have become considerably more user friendly; but you should be able to find a 2-3 yr old FW board for peanuts these days...

If you get a more recent board, I wouldn't go below an 8.0m sail. An 8.5m is fine as a medium wind sail and with the extra tail width in these boards you'll be suprised how easy it is to handle such a big rig in decent wind. Use a minimum 56cm fin and you'll be enjoying how much FW improves all your sailing (even when you go back to shortboards) in no time ;)

In regards to books. There are none. There is one decent video around called "Pro Secrets" (google it) however its not as indepth with regards to technique (ie, stance on the board). I have a website you can read some articles all about FW sailing:

Go to the Archives page and start from the bottom up, as most of the newer articles relate to knowledge written in previous articles. There should be enough to get you started there (technique, tuning, starts, tactics etc etc).


Marc C 22nd September 2008 10:10 PM

Hi Sean and all,

thanks for your feedback. Now I am really eager to try FW and know what kind of board to look for in 2nd hand market (where is very easy to make the get something you don't expect). The rig/fin size point is very important for me since now I know current equipment or new investement in this direction can also be used irrespective of my success in FW.

If begginers jump to it soon it must be less scary that what it seems in hi winds. I have to demo one on a solid F4 day and go ahead.

Regarding carbonsugar, I know your web! It's very INSPIRING and now even I will appreciate it more knowing that you also care for newcomers to FW, not only pros or consolidated FW sailors

I had heard about ProSecrets but only seen a trailer (yes I remember seeing a jibe in FW equipment) It may come later

Thank a lot!


Ken 23rd September 2008 02:19 AM

Marc C,

I weigh 80 kg and have a Starboard F160. I mostly free sail the board but I do race a few times a year. I think you will find that anything from the F147, 159, 160, 161 to the new 162 will work really well for you. I had a 147 before the 160 and a friend has a 159. I have used everything from 11.0 down to a 6.5 on the 147 and 160. I got down to the 6.5 in two different regattas with strong winds (25 to 30 knots). I go with what I am comfortable with while the "serious" guys were on 8.5 to 9.5 sails.

I think you will find that one small fin will work well for higher winds. I actually use my Deb. R13 70 M down to my 8.5 sail and then I go to a Curtis 68 for higher winds. Of course I am not beam reaching in the stronger winds and I haven't found the fins to be too big. I don't think you need to go much smaller than a 65 or 60 at the absolute smallest. A good custom fin will give you a much broader range than the stock fins. The Drake fins that come with the Starboard Formual boards are ok for light winds, but are a handful when the wind picks up. You might find a good used Deb. R13 65 somewhere for not too much $. In the lighter winds 8-12 knots, a 65 fin will hurt your early planing a bit, so having two fins will be a big help.

My favorite sail is my Maui Sails TR 4 9.2. If white caps are just forming (10knots), I can get going pretty easly with the 9.2. I do use my 11.0, but the comfort range for me is 8 knots to about 15 knots. The 9.2 works fine up to 18 to 20 knots.

It's all about practice and skill, plus dedication. Most serious formula racers can hold very large sails in strong winds. My example is not the norm, but I work hard at getting the most out of the smaller sails. The only place I really get hurt with the smaller sails is running deep down wind while racing. If you aren't racing, there is no reason to hang on to the big sails in strong winds. However, if you think you will get serious about racing, then you have to commit learning how to handle the bigger sails.

I think you will love the formula boards for free sailing. I get a kick out of chasing down cats and keel boats and blowing by at 1.5 to 3 times their speed.

Good luck,


Marc C 24th September 2008 02:52 PM

Hi Ken,

thank you very much for the feedback and all the details on your equipment and experiencies.
It is going to be very useful for me to know good rig/fin/ combinations, or at least know what can I expect from them. Specially if buying second hand.

Glad to know I can enjoy FW equipment in windy conditions from the begging.

By the way, do you primarily sail in a lake, harbour protected waters or open beach. It is just to know your experience of the choppy/shorebreak factor which I guess is critical at the begginning

Cheers and thanks a lot


Unregistered 24th September 2008 06:37 PM

You could als try the F-type boards (F158) from a few years ago. Lots of volume, possible to sail with sails from 6.5 - 12m2. Sails almost like a formula but more userfriendly then a Formula board. I had one for a few years and really loved it.
Best regards

Ken 28th September 2008 08:45 AM

Marc C,

Been busy and haven't been back to the website till now. I mostly sail in lakes in north Texas. However, I sail / race in the bay at Corpus Christi and Galveston bay near Houston. Chop can get really big with the waves close together because of the shallow water. 1 to 1.5 meter chop isn't unusual when it is blowing 20 + knots. The waves and chop in deeper water is actually easier to manage since the waves are further apart

The boards can do very well in the rough water as your skills and confidence improve. One word of caution. You will likely get tossed over the the front of your board and slam your mast into the nose while you are learning to run deep down wind in winds over 15 knots, then 20, etc. I have never broken the nose of my board, but I certainly put some pretty good dents in them. I did this on the F175 and the F147, but since I have had the F160, no more nose dings.

As mentioned above, the F-type boards are a good alternative if you can find one.

Good luck


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