OK, you've asked a whole lot of questions..... will try to answer them all!
Have pasted your original post in here to make it easier to get all your questions in their
I'm a beginner. I had a course on a holiday trip and sailed a few hours only. I did not learn waterstart and used a board with a dagger fin. It felt easy but the wind was light and I thought it was not going fast enough for me. I'm not sure if the sail was big enough. My weight is about 160 pounds. I have been doing other sports for a few years like wakeboarding, wakesurfing and snowboarding so I feel relatively comfortable on a board.
OK, what conditions did you have while on your vacation?
What boards did your use to learn on (wide board or long board is the most important critieria here)?
What sail sizes did the school give you to use?
Wind conditions here are pretty light and gusty. Let's say about 70% of the time, the wind is below 10 knots. 20% of the time the wind is ranging from 6 knots to 14 knots. And 10% of the time, from 12 knots to 22 knots.
OK, very light winds will require a more longboard oriented board and probably some larger rigs, but not right at first.
I can't try or rent any gear around here. I could not find any certified instructor around here either. So I guess I will have to teach myself until I go for another holiday trip where I can windsurf. I will also have to buy online so I need to make sure I get the right gear for me.
OK, are you sailing on fresh or salt water?
From what I have read here, I need a dagger fin to help me stay upwind so I guess my options are the following boards:
Rio S...... Good!
Rio M..... Better for your wind conditions!
Phantom Race 320..... Could be the best for your conditions, but maybe more difficult to learn on, and
won't have the shortboard like planing performance you can get from the Rio's with the centerboard
retracted up into the board.
Phantom Race 380...... Could be good, but for later. A bit more fragile and more difficult for a beginner to sail.
Go 151 with a dagger fin..... Could be very good, but will not give you optimum performance in your suggested wind range.
Go 171 with a dagger fin...... Too big... the extra volume is not needed for a sailor your size.
From what I read, the Rio S would be a good size for me and easier to learn on. But can I ride this board in very light wind with a big sail? Is it possible to plane on any of these boards in light wind? What would be the best board for learning and having fun in light and gusty wind? How much volume does my board has to have if I want to perform a standing start? Is it possible to perform a standing start without a dagger fin? And how much wind do you need to perform a water start?
The Rio M would seem better, but the Rio S could work for you.
Best for light and gusty winds at your skill level would be the Rio M.
With beginner/advanced beginner size rigs, you will not plane in < 12 knots of wind.
=> 12 knots, with a 7.5 m2 rig, you may be able to plane, at your weight.
In order to uphaul any of the boards you've selected will have more than adequate volume for uphauling (standing start?) Yes, sailors uphaul quite small low volume short boards all the time. It's a more delicate "feat of balance" but once you figure out where you need to stand (fore and aft here) and how to stay over the centerline volume in the board it's fairly easy.
Water starts for a 160 lb. sailor normally require around 14 knots of wind and about a 6.5 m2 or larger rig.
This is a very advanced technique that you probably need to save for alot further on in your learning curve.
Another point to take into consideration is that I live in a condo, so it would probably be easier for me to store a Go 151 or Rio S since they are smaller and lighter.
Yes, understood, but if the smaller board extends your learning curve, or causes you to give up.... the slightly smaller size/weight may not be advantageous.
What sails should I buy to cover the wind we have here? What is the difference between a cam and no cam sail? And what should a beginner use? I read that sails with cams are more stable, is that true?
Initially I would suggest a 6.5 m2 rig on the lightest 460 IMCS 25 carbon mast you can afford.
Later, you can purchase sails up to 8.5 m2 (maybe larger, but they get heavy as the size increases and this can actually reduce your time on the water.
Cams are totally unneccesary for your skill level!
Cambered sails are more stable, but NoCam sails are lighter in weight and often have better light wind
power. The stability is not needed in the wind speeds you have described.
Also, the design intent of the sail has alot to do with it's light wind performance.
Free race sails tend to have better light wind power and less weight than cambered full race sails.
Should I buy a 100% carbon mast? What kind of boom should I buy? Since the wind is very light, do I need to go for the lightest mast and boom possible?
For beginners (and advancing beginners) a lightweight rig translates to alot more time on the water, and
alot fewer sore muscles.
So..... yes, get the lightest highest carbon content mast you can afford that suits the bend characteristics of the sails you buy. If you take good care of a 100% carbon mast, it can last almost forever. Keep it in a reflective mast bag (out of the sun) when storing it.... get some sort of rig cover that keeps the damaging UV off your sail and the intense sunlight (heat) off your high carbon mast and they will last a very long time. Avoid bumping or striking your mast on anything when rigging and de rigging.
Use some sort of rigging carpet (if you cannot rig on a nice grassy surface).
I'm willing to pay for a really good gear that will allow me to have fun in light wind and that will also last for a long time.
Excellent..... take good care of your board and rigs (as suggested above) and they will last significantly longer. But be aware that as your skills improve, you will want more advanced gear to plane earlier and more often. Rig components (mast/mast bases/boom (s)) can be used with your more advanced/larger
rigs but be sure when you buy a new sail that it's compatible (length and IMCS/bend characteristics
here) with your existing mast.
Hope this helps,