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johnk 6th October 2008 04:11 AM

Early Planning
Hi Roger,

I frequently find myself sailing in light winds (10-15 knots) and would like to get some suggestions for an early planning upgrade over my beginner board. I'm an advanced beginner (tacking, gybing, harness, foot straps) at 6'1" and 195 lbs presently using the following:

Mistral N'Trance (199L, 280 x 80 cm, 13.9 KG)
Sailworks Retro 9.5
G-Sport Driver 60 fin

This board has served me really well in both non-planning and planning conditions (I have smaller sails and fins as well). However, I would like to know how much I can lower my planning threshold with a lighter weight/higher performance board? With that in mind, can I get your thoughts on the following boards:

Starboard Furuta 155 - somewhat concerened about the Futura's durability with my learning progression. Need a nose protector for sure.

Fanatic Shark 160 (160L, 268 x 80 cm, 10.3 KG) - read great reviews and could use my existing PowerBox fins.

Bic Techno Formula (165L, 267 x 94 cm, 10.8 KG) - I suspect that the extra width would be ideal for early planning, but I'm not sure if my beginner level skills are ready for a formula type board.

Thanks in advance,

Roger 6th October 2008 04:46 AM

Hi John,
With the 9.5 m2 Retro, you have the power to get going early, and a wider board
would get you the most gain but you will need a really big vertical fin (or a very large weed fin if you use weed fins in your area).
Do the sites you sail have plenty of water depth?
The Futura 155 at 85 cm wide gets my vote as the best compromise here.
I think the Shark at 80 cm wide is going to be an improvement over your nTrance (also 80 cm wide) due to the weight difference, but it may not lower your planing threshold all that much.
The Techno formula at 94 cm wide will definitely get you going the earliest of the 3, but as you suggest, it's a formula board and while I'm sure you can make the transition to the wider footstrap offset (same is true but not to the same degree with the Futura 155)
it's not going to be real comfortable right at first.
You will get a bit more range and an easier to jibe board with the Futura 155 so I guess when you look at things from all angles the Futura would getmy vote.
Durability issues would probably be about the same with all 3 boards.
In any event, you are going to have to get some larger fins whichever board you buy.
What fins are you running on the nTrance?
Wider boards with larger fins, rigs with lots of low end power, and good pumping ability are the keys to really early planing.
Hope this helps,

johnk 6th October 2008 06:30 PM


Originally Posted by Roger (Post 26229)
Do the sites you sail have plenty of water depth?

Yes, fortunately water depth is not a problem where I sail.


Originally Posted by Roger (Post 26229)
What fins are you running on the nTrance?

I typically use a G-Sport Driver 60 with the Retro 9.5 and Curtis CR-12 51 with a Neil Pryde Solo 7.0.

In general, how much does the weight of the board affect early planning? For example, the Go and Futura are the same wide shape, but in different constructions. Will the heavier Go be slower to get planning?

Thank you,

Roger 6th October 2008 08:57 PM

Hi John,
OK, it's good that you have plenty of water depth!
The 60 cm Driver should be OK on your nTrance, but I'm not
sure that this fin has the flex chracteristics to make it really
good for "fin pumping" to get on plane early.
I'm familiar with the CR-12 and that should be pretty good with your 7.0 Solo.
As far as the weight of the board "affecting" early planing, yes, there is a difference,
and the lighter and wider the board, the more likely it is to plane up very early.
As I suggested earlier, the Bic formula board will be the earliest to plane, but as a
true formula style board, you give up some easy jibing and speed on a beam to close
reach as the formula boards are really designed for formula (upwind/downwind) racing, and while pretty good on more "reaching" points of sail, they are not as easy and forgiving as the Futura.
Also, if you have some chop to deal with as the wind speed increases, the Futura will remain easy to sail where the formula board may become a handful more quickly.
Unfortunately, the only way for you to really figure this out is to spend some time on each of these boards.
It's difficult to suggest "just the right board" as there are so many variables.
I'll stick with my earlier suggestion on the Futura 155 as being the board with the widest range of use for what you have suggested are your conditions.
If early to plane is the "holy grail" here, then look at formula boards or perhaps an Apollo.
If you want reasonably early planing, easy to sail, and very forgiving overall, then the Futura 155.
Whichever you choose you are going to have a short "learning curve" to transition to a bit different way of sailing.
Once past the "getting acquainted" sessions, you can work to advance your pumping skills to bring your planing threshold down even further.
Hope this helps,

bazza 9th October 2008 10:59 AM

Hello again Roger. You may recall that I have a 2002 Start with 70 and 78 cm fins. The Start is 100 cm wide and weighs 14 kg. Would the Techno Formula at 94 cm wide, 170l of volume, and only 10.8 kg plane sooner than the Start with my 235 lbs onboard?
Is there a better option? Thanks again for your advice.

Roger 9th October 2008 08:12 PM

Hi Bazza,
No, I do not think the Techno Formula will plane any where near as soon as your '02 Start with a 78 cm fin.
Are you pumping the Start to get going early?
Are you pumping the fin a bit to help break your board loose and onto a plane?
What size rig are you using?
Is it a Free Race type sail or a full on formula race rig?
The added width of your Start and the ability to use a 78 cm fin most likely far
out weigh any difference in weight.
Hope this helps,

bazza 10th October 2008 01:44 AM

Thanks for taking the time Roger. I have an 11.0 Sailworks Retro and have been learning to pump it however, have not pumped the fin (didn't know that this was possible!).
From your comment about the Start being able to take a 78cm fin you believe that the Techno Formula will not. I have been trying to locate a used Starboard formula board for my weight (like the 2002 F-186) but have had no luck. I have found a Techno Formula and just assumed that the 3kg weight saving would make a huge difference. Thanks again.

Roger 10th October 2008 02:55 AM

Hi bazza,
With large fins, sometimes "pumping the fin" is very effective when you are not quite able to get going, or can pump up onto a plane, but the plane dies off as soon as you stop pumping.
The idea here is to give several quick hard "pushes" on the fin with your back foot (either in the strap, or just in front of the back strap).
Sometimes this seems to "loosen" the board up a little and can be the difference between progressing onto a full plane, or dropping back into "slog" mode.
It also works if the wind dies down a little and you are starting to lose the plane.
2 or 3 quick pumps on the fin and heading a little off the wind (if you are higher than a close reach) can keep you going until the wind comes back.
Hope this helps,

bazza 10th October 2008 05:19 AM

Thanks again Roger. Your advice is wonderful. You have given me the impression in previous communications that my Start is quite a decent performer even at 14 kg and that to upgrade to a lighter weight formula board might allow me to plane in 2 knots less wind. Do I have that right?

Roger 10th October 2008 08:36 AM

Hi Bazza,
With the same rig?..... no, I don't think you will find that a formula board (even the higher volume F-186) is going to lower your planing threshold by 2 knots.
Formula boards are 100.5 cm wide, same as your Start.
The extra volume is what's making alot of the additional board weight, and at your size that extra volume is probably a good thing.
Work on your skills to get the most from your Start.
If you can find an F-186 (172 liters volume) give it a try, but I don't think you'll get anything like a 2 knot drop in planing threshold windspeed.
With a different rig (larger).... maybe, but you already have an 11.0 m2 Retro and larger sails don't have alot of low end, so you are pretty much "maxed out" on rig size.
Are you rigging your big Retro for max. early planing....i.e. batten above the boom pulled back 1/2 the mast diameter and tangent to the lee side of the mast?
Do you have an adjustable outhaul so you can really "fatten up" your big Retro for max. light wind "grunt".
Where do you have your footstraps.... all the way back and outboard?
If yes to all of the above, I think you need to work on better pumping skills as that's about the only thing that's not already optimized.
If you have a chance to borrow or rent a formula board, give it a try, but I'll be surprised if you come back and tell me you were planing in less wind.
Be really "active" in your pumping, that's about the only thing that will lower your planing threshold.
A formula board might be better upwind (but not an marginal planing windspeeds) and might be faster on the top end, as well as way off the wind, but it's not going to plane for a big guy a whole lot sooner.
Have you tried a 70 cm fin in your Start to see how much that improves/diminishes your planing threshold? Sometimes the super big fins get you going slightly sooner, but soon become a liability in terms of top end speed.

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