It's crap to say that there's no tactics in gybing downwind; it's also wrong IMHO to say there's no tactics in boat that perform best DDW. Whether it's a board or cat in strong winds when you're gybing through 90, or a Laser running DDW in light, it's intensely tactical...maybe more in the latter case IMHO because the fleet tends to be more packed. In something like a Laser fleet you are going up and down to intercept each puff, rolling away or heating up or going BTL for best VMG, while working leverage and angles over your competitors, intensely trying to synchronise puffs and the angle and size of waves for surfing opportunities, and trying to anticipate the mark rounding. Since it's common to go around overlapped with several other competitors, even 5cm is vital.
Sure, some people go from DDW classes to faster boats and say there's more tactics - but isn't that because they already know the DDW tactics from years of experience and then find there's a whole new box of tricks to learn? But the new box of tricks is not any harder than the old box of tricks....as the last Olympics proved (ex laser sailors 1st and 3rd) you can go from a DDW class to a tacking-downwind class, but skiff champs do poorly in Lasers, indicating that it's not dead easy to go the other way.
Some of the stuff I sail goes from DDW in the light to gybing through about 70 to 80 in the breeze. IMHo there's no difference in the importance of tactics.
"Are any windsurfers truly tactical other than slalom racing? (I don't know the answer, and hope someone can answer)."
It seems to me that non-pumping longboards can be truly tactical, in the style of Etchells or Lasers, but in the boats most of the fleet is pretty much competitive in speed and handling whereas in the boards only a minority are as competitive in speed and handling. Therefore in boards there are therefore fewer competitors who you have a real tactical battle with IMHO; most of them you can just speed away from. So it's less tactical overall. God knows why that's a problem; the ability to get more straight-line speed (a skill fast gear tests more) is just as important IMHO (and I'm not much good at it).
In big winds or on faster boards, in my experience, the boards are distinctly less tactical. Others may disagree but how many of them have good records in slow gear? If they cannot win on slow gear, then how do they know the tactics needed in slow gear and therefore how can they compare the two?
Fran, in the normal variable conditions how would you choose where to put the fin? The rails are low aspect and therefore inherently not efficient in terms of preventing leeway, aren't they?
Cats can have very deep, narrow shapes and a cat without boards cannot compete with a cat with boards.
Modern sails with a wide wind range are twice as heavy as original sails. We happily accept doubling the weight for more adjustability in our sails, so accepting a 20% increase in weight for a 100% adjustability in CB size looks okay by comparison. The production costs are, of course, a problem, but then modern fast boards are hard to produce cheaply too.
About the Kona numbers - are people going on opinion or fact? If it's fact, care to share?