Design suggestion : one board and rig for all
I have been a windsurfer for almost 30 years, and a Starboard fan for a while. I would like to propose a general design suggestion. Idea would be "one board for all" as follows :
A long time ago, windsurf was a sport for everyone. Accessible and affordable boards and rigs made it attractive for a large numbers of persons, young or old, casual or enthusiasts, to practise this simplest form of sailing.
Later, when funboard developed, practise evolved towards more sophistication, less accessibility, resulting in a much smaller number of windsurfers practising what had become a discipline of specialists. We gained extreme sensations, but lost the pleasure of simplicity and accessibility.
Idea would be to try and revive windsurf as a large audience sport through introduction of an adapted board design : accessible, performing, affordable, versatile, durable, one-design accross windsurf companies.
Main windsurf companies would agree on one board and rig design, then would allow any windsurf company to manufacture and sell it under its own brand, provided design is not modified, except for sail colors, board colors, or similar minor elements not affecting the board and rig performance (to preserve performance equality of models).
Design main features could be :
- accessible and versatile : enough volume, enough lenght for beginners, including reasonably heavy adults, so around 350 cm, 230 liters, 70 cm wide. Rig would be made of one sail with largest range : around 6.5 meters, narrow mast panel, not too flat, no cambers, perfectly stable profile, to be sailable in top range by enthusiasts. Board would also come with four inserts to install a kayak seat, simple and good idea of Bic with the Jungle.
- performing : needs to be pleasant and interesting to sail in light wind, again to be accessible to all (retractable daggerboard), and also to complete usefully quivers of enthusiasts, generally currently made of small boards for relatively strong winds only. Needs also to be performing, controllable and pleasant upwind and downwind in moderatly strong winds (up to force 6 included) to please enthusiasts (needs a mast foot rail).
- affordable and durable : simple equipment, three footstraps, not more, everything simple and robust, no need of high tech stuff, but no poor quality, only balanced, reasonable quality. Board and rig together should not cost more than 1800-2000 EUR.
- one design across windsurf companies : everybody could choose the brand of its preference, but buy the same board and rig. I could buy a Starboard or a Mistral, but buy the same board and rig with only color or minor differences (Starboard could do it with an irresistible wood deck). This would allow windsurfers to revive one of the best parts of old-school windsurfing : easily improvised regattas. Everybody has a chance, and the same pleasure, even if not a top sailor.
Such "one board and rig for all" approach would be a possibility to revive windsurf as a large audience sport, to have again beginners sailing with enthusiasts, and people on the beach looking at windsurfers not as elitist acrobats, but as people practising a beautiful sport they think they would like to try.
There were in the past certain attemps of one-design boards, but none across all windsurf companies, and none with all the qualities of the design generally described above. For example the Tiga Aloha had a too poor general quality, board and rig, to attract enthusiasts. Mistral One Design was not affordable, did not have simple enough equipement (12 straps ...), was not accessible enough (heavy rig 7.5 meters).
Hoping to read your opinion on this,
You are actually describing the KONA One... Family oriented with reasonably good performance over a large wind range. If only the sail would be better, in particular in large sizes, and if it would have been engineered by a bigger company.
Your post reveal good intentions I'll give you that. Sometimes I miss the simplicity and accessibility of windsurfing as it was.... But there are many reasons for the situation as it is now, debated to death on this and other forums. I firmly believe we we will NEVER see the numbers from the '80s again, is the sport going to die because of that? Don't think so.
"Main windsurf companies would agree on one board and rig design, then would allow any windsurf company to manufacture and sell it under its own brand"
Somehow I just can't imagine that happening.
Furthermore, I can't see how can a board be pleasant/accessible in light winds for beginners, but also performing/controllable in force six (depends on what is controllable to you).
Pg is right, I think Kona comes closest to your ideal at the moment.
Please take no offence and good sailing
PS I've said it before: as a photo enthusiast, I would like a lens 10-400mm F2.8, not too massive/heavy, high performance, affordable if possible. Not gonna happen (anytime soon)
yes, kona is a good example of this sort of compromise
putting these wishes in practise, I bought a Bic Jungle (for the kayak seat inserts), and a North Duke 6.9 to have a simple but performing sail to go with. Yesterday, I tried it for the first time in lake Ecluzelles near Paris, by light wind. First I used it as a kayak and went around this beautiful lake, with a girlfriend who had rented a second kayak.
We stopped on an island to have a meal we had taken with us. Then, after completing our kayak tour of the lake, as wind had gone slightly up, I rigged the Duke 6.9 (which is very easy and quick with recent North improvements) and we sailed together on the Jungle (which has enough volume for two persons). I taught her a little bit of windsurfing, then I sailed alone for a while.
No planning, no foot straps, but great pleasure, I felt like 25 years younger. If I had only had my four short boards, this would have been another day spent waiting for the wind or doing something else.
On the water yesterday were also several Formulas waiting for planning, and thereby wasting their day for 10 seconds of it while I was having a great time.
I have nothing against high perf stuff and strong wind, I have an iSonic 76 for example, but really, I think we should rediscover calm, quiet, cool, simple, promenade windsurfing.
Concerning the possibility for windsurf companies to agree on a common design, well it simply exists in other areas of sailing and has been for a while. Many boats are "classes", i.e. a standard design built by several companies, which allows people to race simply together without having to buy 8 slalom sails, 4 wave sails and a ton of boards every year. I used to race a long time ago, I regret it has become a non sense for the common sailor now, among other non senses like boards 1 meter wide and 12 meters rigs.
Just try Bic Jungle with decent rig in light winds, you'll see. I may also have my old Lechner reshaped new by a shaper equiped with a scanner for the same purposes.
I actually agree with you more than it can be read from my post.
Standard class: I don't know what to think about it. Look how many windsurfing classes were Olympic from 1984. and there was always a cutthroat fight between companies who will get the next games. (mistral imco holding the throne the longest if I'm not wrong, and many think that the new rsx is worse performing than an imco) So that's why I say I can't see ws companies agreeing on standard.
On one hand you are right, the standard would simplify many things for amateur racers. Maybe it would also streamline/unify (in a lack of a better word) windsurfing as a sport in the eyes of general public and sports federations worldwide. I don't know.
But on the other hand, "chaotic" development and diversity of the sport brought immense advancements in many areas (user friendliness, but at the same time high performance "radical" gear, earlier planing, more control, etc etc) that would be maybe neglected if the sport took "standard class" direction. Do I enjoy these developments compared to say 15 years old gear? Yes I do, and I pay the price of rd.
Of course, the biggest question is can these two aspects of the sport coexist together? (I'm not familiar with dingies, but I suppose there are significant developments there, where I live I only see lasers and fins)
C249 where are you, join the discussion ;-)))))
Btw, I've never tried that Bic Jungle, but I know perfectly well that feeling from your island trip. Last time I've done that in about 1996. If (when) I go back to lightwind sailing, I'm pretty sure it won't be a Formula, rather something long with a daggerboard.
"I may also have my old Lechner reshaped new by a shaper equiped with a scanner for the same purposes."
Now you're talking! (that's div2 Lechner not the longboard right?) I planned to take a div2 Lechner on my next trip to a very beautiful mountain lake (where the average wind is 3-4 knots).
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